I may be too old for Adam Sandler movies, but it seems to me that he’s getting too old for them, too.
Sandler really brings out my “Mom” side – I want to tell him to stand up straight, stop dressing like a slob, and start living up to his potential. His movies are one-sentence concepts plus cheap shots and middle-school-style body part jokes to fill out the rest of the 90 minutes. This time, he didn’t even come up with his own one-sentence concept. Instead he lifted one from a genuine Depression era movie classic starring Gary Cooper, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” Then he took out all of the wit and warmth (and the point) and substituted jokes about getting hit on the head, getting hit in the genitals, snapping off the arm of a frozen dead body, getting stabbed in the foot, physical deformity, and getting hit in the throat.
Sandler can’t be bothered to move on from the 1980’s, which still serves as his touchstone for comic references (like John McEnroe). As with the courtroom scene of Big Daddy, Sandler could also not be bothered to spend five minutes asking a few questions about annual shareholder meetings actually work, thus making the situations more ludicrous than humorous.
As in the original, the main character is a small-town guy named Longfellow Deeds who writes poems for greeting cards and is kind to his neighbors. Deeds unexpectedly inherits a fortune. (It was $20 million in the original, now $40 billion in the remake.) So, he goes to the big city, where an unscrupulous reporter named Babe (Jean Arthur in the original, Winona Ryder in the remake) pretends to be a damsel in distress to get close enough to him so that she can write stories about what an idiot he is.
Sandler’s “I’m just a sweet guy who likes dumb jokes” routine is getting tired, and apparently so is he – he looks puffy and uninterested in many of the scenes and oddly uncomfortable when called upon to kiss his leading lady. Ryder is far classier than the material, as are supporting stalwarts John Turturro, Conchatta Farrell, and Steve Buscemi. The other supporting actors range from bland to incompetent, including the obviously uncomfortable John McEnroe.
Parents should know that the movie has extremely vulgar humor and strong language for a PG-13.
Families who see this movie should talk about what they would do if they inherited $40 billion, how childhood dreams turn into adult realities, and how the media covers celebrities.
Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Sandler’s best films, The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy. All families should see the classic original film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and talk about whether ideas about money were different during the Depression than they are now.