Big Daddy” has all the unavoidable elements of an Adam Sandler film: slapstick humor, gross jokes, bodily functions galore, spectacular pratfalls and more than a sprinkling of sexual innuendo. Yet, the movie is not without its funny moments, it is a welcome return to the sweetness and heart of “The Wedding Singer” after the numbing dopiness of “The Waterboy,” and the tasteless portions (about 90%) are played in such a broad and obvious way that there is little risk that teens will mistake this for acceptable behavior.
It is the story of Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler), shiftless young man who is wasting his life, much to the chagrin of his parents, friends, and girlfriend. One day, a 5 year old boy (played by twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse) is abandoned on his doorstep through a mixup. Rather than place the boy in an orphanage, Koufax agrees to take care of him for a few days, thinking it will help him win back his ex-girlfriend. At first the two have fun behaving irresponsibly together, but gradually Koufax comes to love the boy and realizes that he wants to keep him. He also recognizes that someone needs to be the grown-up, and it is going to have to be him. If he wants to keep the boy, he will have to begin to accept some responsiblity. He sees the consequences of his slacker lifestyle in the influence he has on the child, and in the risk he runs of losing him. Koufax fights the Department of Social services in court when they come to take the boy back.
This is not a profound movie, but adolescents (and those with adolescent humor) will enjoy it. There are a number of sexual references — some quite vivid — and a range of the usual PG-13 naughty words and potty humor. But this movie is so open, it has no chance to become smarmy (like the new Austin Powers movie). Sandler has a light enough touch that the movie does not become sentimental or lose its sense of humor by adding some heart to the characters. Like the character he plays, Sandler is beginning to learn that you can be responsible and funny at the same time.
For a more sophisticated but also very funny movie on this theme, see “A Thousand Clowns”.