Viewers will know exactly what they’re in for when the opening credits reveal the production company: Happy Madison. Anyone who recognizes that name as a tribute to two Adam Sandler movies will enjoy this genial but raunchy story of a hapless fish-tank cleaner who becomes an even more hapless “man-whore.” If that term makes you laugh, even after you’ve already heard it many times, this is your kind of movie.
The plot is “American Gigolo” crossed with “Risky Business” — a suave gigolo (Oded Fahr of “The Mummy”) has to go out of town, and lets Deuce stay in his glamorous apartment so he can care for his fish. When Deuce accidentally trashes the place, he must find a way to raise $6000 to get it back to normal before the owner returns. With the help of a friendly procurer, he gets set up on dates for pay with a succession of unhappy, self-conscious women (including Marlo Thomas, and what is that girl doing in this movie?). Meanwhile, a detective is pursuing him and Deuce begins to fall in love with a client who does not know that his date with her was paid for by her friends.
My biggest complaint about Adam Sandler has always been that he is lazy. His movies read like they were ad-libbed during an all-night beer bash. This time, he has managed to make an Adam Sandler movie without actually having to appear in it — that position is occupied by his fellow Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider, who co-wrote the script. The best that can be said is that it is in Sandler’s “Wedding Singer” tradition, with many references that will hit home for those who grew up in the 80’s and a sweet romance to lend an innocent quality to the potty humor and gimp jokes. The courtroom finale may be dumb and hackneyed, but audiences may find their “ewwwwwws” turning to “awwwwws” as Deuce’s clients each testify that all he did was make them feel good about themselves. Deuce is even able to make the detective feel better.
Parents should know that the movie’s R rating is well-deserved, with strong language and much of the humor coming from sexual references and situations, including the accidental viewing of a porno movie by a little girl, the detective’s exposing himself and complaining about his ability to satisfy his wife, a used condom, a body cavity search, etc. The movie also makes a lot of jokes at the expense of people with disabilities, including narcolepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, and blindness.