Providence's Alternative Source!


It's no surprise to find Adam Sandler remaking Frank Capra's film about a small-town New Englander who reluctantly inherits a fortune in New York City and goes on to challenge the Big Apple's values. Along with his puerile humor, Sandler has always displayed a Capra-corny side, not to mention a penchant for turning his characters into noble heroes in 90 minutes flat.

But whereas Sandler pulled on your heartstrings and pissed on walls in Big Daddy, the combination doesn't work in Mr. Deeds. In Big Daddy, he had a kid to play off; here he has to operate in the grown-up world. In the original, Gary Cooper wants to impress his date with a dinner at his mansion; Sandler transfers the date to an empty Madison Square Garden, a boy's fantasy if there ever was one. What made Cooper's Deeds more than a seeming simpleton was his anger and unpredictability; Sandler's character isn't completely naive, but there's no weight or mystery to him. At the same time, the burden of remaking Capra forces Sandler and director Steven Brill (Little Nicky) to hold back on the naughtiness. Co-star Winona Ryder is unimpressive (but then, women aren't asked to be funny in these movies). John Turturro, however, stands out as a "very sneaky" butler. At the Apple Valley, Entertainment, Flagship, Holiday, Hoyts, Showcase, and Tri-Boro cinemas.

By Mark Bazer

Issue Date: June 27 - July 4, 2002