Mr. Deeds (2002) Columbia Pictures
1 hr. 32 mins.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
Directed by: Steven Brill

Mr. Deeds



Photo: Columbia Pictures

The biggest flaw with Adam Sandler’s latest film ‘Mr. Deeds’ is the romance factor. That being said, the film is a romantic comedy in its’ purest form and that really does not leave much to the forethought of the rest of this critique. Sandler might leave the directing duties to his colleagues, but this film has all the imprints of a Sandler flick. Director Steven Brill (Little Nicky, Heavyweights) might have his name attached as Director, but Sandler’s musical touches, the gross out gags and the toilet humor are pervasive in this film that rots as it progresses even more so than Sandler’s ‘Little Nicky’ debacle.

Based on the Frank Capra film ‘Mr. Deeds Goes to Town’, this film taints that classic by mere association due to its’ horrendous direction, lackluster script and pathetic clichéd values. Sandler assembles the whole gang and fans will be able to spot the regulars he assembles for his films, yet the laughs elicited are due in part to the stupidity and ludicrousness this film emits. From Sandler’s first foray into cinema, Sandler could have always made you walk out of the theatre with a laugh. Even with the deplorable ‘Little Nicky’ you still respected him for making you laugh, even if it was in the most ridiculous context ever. Yet, with this film, Sandler seems to have driven a terrible nail in his coffin as studios will balk at his weak product.

The script is based upon Robert Riskin’s script for Capra’s film, but the differences are rampant. Set in present day, our Mr. Deeds (Sandler) inherits his Great Uncle’s 40$ Billion Multimedia Empire. Forced into a brief stay in New York City to sign the legal papers, he becomes enchanted by a Reporter (Winona Ryder) who is posing as a school nurse to obtain the inside scoop for her tabloid television show. I do not know what is more embarrassing for Winona Ryder, getting caught shoplifting or having this film as the pedestal for her comeback. Her weakly detailed character has no background and is at the center of a thinly layered script in which the dialogue is even worse than that of George Lucas’ last picture.

As for Sandler, empathy is shared with him for he seems sorry for himself starring in this weak, recursive and studio driven film that seems to want to insult us and destroy Sandler’s career with this miserable piece.

The zest and the charisma Sandler displayed in ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Happy Gilmore’ seems to be lost. In this film, Sandler portrays a well-grounded and down to earth small town man who does not care for money. Hollywood Insiders have said the same for Sandler, yet after screening this film, I wonder what makes him select his pieces. Is it his heart, or his wallet?

This film does not contain one frame of worthiness, which is a shame considering Sandler has actors like John Turturro and Steve Buscemi in the film. The only thing I kept thinking to myself were these actors’ respective portrayals in the Coen Brothers’ classic ‘The Big Lebowski’. I also thought to myself, how can they go from there to here?

While this critique is jagged and does not shy away from criticizing the film, it must be noted that expectations were low before entering the film. Sandler is in a downward spiral and we all know it. Yet, even while ‘Little Nicky’ was horrible, it still made you smile. This film tears away at the seams for how poorly assembled it is made. Even Sandler’s choice of music is weak as compared to his other films. The majority of romantic comedies are bad films, even ‘Big Daddy’ had a romantic undertone but that film handled it well. In this film, we are propelled into an unrealistic and morbid love affair between two characters we could not care less about.

When screening a film and the feeling of pleasure suddenly turns into a chore, something is wrong. That can be applied to Sandler’s career right now. He has lost a loyal fan with this terrible display of cinema and has tainted a Hollywood classic. What is next for Sandler? Honestly, who cares!

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi


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