Mr. Deeds Review

“It's Wicked Awful! An Abomination!”

June 26th, 2002

Code Orange Alert #38098: Mr. Deeds

(My friend, whom I don't even think likes me anymore, says I have a lot of HATRED buried deep inside my lungs. I think she might be right)

F*ck you, I liked Little Nicky.

And what's with this guy from Time Magazine telling me Minority Report is "Spielberg's brawniest, most bustling entertainment since Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Sure, it makes for a nice sound byte, but it isn't true. Both Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan were more enthralling than what we have here. That's not to say Minority Report is a bad film, it has a lot going for it. Yet, like with A.I., Spielberg has totally blown apart his house of cards with a faulty ending. In both projects, there comes a time when they should just end. But they don't. For all intents and purposes, Minority Report should be over when Tom Cruise learns the awful truth about his future. But no; for whatever selfish reason, the damn thing just plods along in postmortem. This totally ruins the flavor and punch provided from the get-go. Steven used to know how to cap his films like a genius; now his craft is doped up on cinematic Viagra. After ejaculating in orgasmic release, his movies remain hard. He doesn't know what to do with them, and it's embarrassing. Trust me, I know all about embarrassing...

Approximately twenty-four minutes after seeing Scooby-Doo I fell into a very deep cement ditch, bruising both my palms and tearing such a large chunk of skin out of my knee that it could only be seen as perfection. This was the last link in a chain of events that preceeded the downing of half a bottle of Cantaloupe-flavored Stoli; an immediate reaction to the length of film Raja Gosnell so lovingly slapped me in the teeth with. And they called it an adaptation? For the first time this summer, I'm in absolute agreement with Roger Ebert; Scooby-Doo is totally, apprehensibly unreviewable. I didn't hate it; the thing gave me little reason too. It was that lazy. Ebert asked you, dear reader, to look outside his little bubble for advice on this transparent excuse for entertainment. He claims he's never once seen the cartoon, and that it is not for him to critique. He feels he has missed the point.

Well, I grew up watching that shameful dog mystery. I've always had a soft spot in my head, and in my heart, for Shag and Scoob. They were always there, burning ghostly images into my television screen whether it be on Saturday morning or at three o'clock in the afternoon after school. None of that matters; this beast of a thing that played out in front of me was effectless. Scooby-Doo is an empty shell. There's nothing inside its culpable walls: No jokes, no story line, nothing. It's just a longer-than-average episode lost amongst the hundreds already made. In one word: Pointless. And they didn't even kill Scrappy-Doo. Those feckless bastards. I'm ashamed of James Gunn, and I'm one of his biggest fans.

The film did one thing: It made me realize how embedded Velma Dinkley's voice is in my soul. Not that it's sexually arousing, or even remotely attractive; it's like this jarring fishhook that used to rip me out of my sleeping bag when I was a kid. That Linda Cardellini perfectly nails this voice leads me to believe that the makers of Scooby-Doo were, at one point, on the right track. Both Linda and Mathew Lillard are exacting in their caricatures. Alas, their perfection does little to pull this crapshoot out of the dregs. There's just nothing for them to hinge their goofiness onto. And that seems to be a reoccurring theme this summer...

Mr. Deeds is an abomination; a hackneyed remake that only cops to its origins so that it doesn't look like the blatant rip-off that it is. This is Sandler's point-of-no-return. Where his once quirky humor used to resonate into the future with one foot forward, Mr. Deeds takes a giant leap in the opposite direction. What once might have been seen as bizarre and inventive is now just stupid and tired. Mr. Deeds crawled into my mouth and laid eggs on my tongue, which incubated in the warmth of my throat and hatched into something I couldn't kill with a large dose of amoxicillin. Several hours after leaving my seat, I'm still gagging to swallow. Sandler, that bitch. Is this some sort of horrible in-joke? Who the Hell keeps letting him make the same movie over and over again?

Sandler does here the exact same thing he's done with all of his movies. Little Nicky stuck to this same narrative, but crept off the path just enough to make it somewhat interesting. Those who loathed its unloving ways must have not been paying attention. Instead of continuing with Nicky's circus of change, Adam, along with long-time collaborators Steven Brill and Tim Herlihy, steps back into the past to revive the basic plot of every single Adam Sandler starring vehicle (Bullet Proof being the exception). That's what he does with Mr. Deeds. If you've ever seen just one of these human cartoons, you know exactly what you're going to get here.

It's always the same with these guys: Boy meets girl, boy beats the living sh*t out of a number of people for no real good reason with blaring, brutal sound effects attached, boy loses girl, boy goes to absurd lengths to win girl back. And this is always wrapped in a Dahli-esque pie of flippancy. Only here, the big difference is, the girl is the one who screws everything up and has to win Sandler back. Wow, talk about being irreverent. With the exception of this tiny change, Mr. Deeds consists of the same old basic three act script structure that is taught on the back of matchbook covers. It matches every bland beat tit-for-tat.

Mr. Deeds is not so much a remake of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town as it is a remake of Billy Madison. It's only interesting point of grace is that it doesn't go the way of Brewster's Millions by showing us all the funny ways Sandler and Company could spend 40 billion dollars. The large inheritance is almost an afterthought, but lets face it; the film is not built on that type of budget. And we already know how Adam would waist large sums of money; we can see it on the screen with every film he makes. Adam Sandler is the cinematic equivalent of Chubby Checkers. He had a hit with Madison, which was his 'Twist', and everything else has been "Let's Twist again like we did last summer."

This bastard child of Frank Capra is The Wedding Singer without an ounce of that film's charm, and to call the Wedding Singer charming is like calling Osama bin Laden America's favorite teddy bear. What's so funny about Sandler beating people up? He's a bi-polar sh*t-f*ck and a not very likable presence. I haven't seen the man flail this bad since his grating turn in Steve Martin's Mixed Nuts. There are nauseous lulls of silence every time he reads one of his Greeting Card poems, a running joke in the film. Whoa-ho, this is so not funny. There's not one laugh in Deeds' whole 92 minute running time.

Though, John Turturro did bring a smile to my face a time or two. He appears here as a 'sneaky' butler, creeping up on the screen almost as unexplainably as he did in that Arnold Schwarzenegger sh*t bomb from a couple months ago called Collateral Damage. Every time he steps into another pedestrian camera angle, he elevates the project past territory that is almost untouchable. Why is this talented young man hacking his way through such a mind-numbing exercise? To give us a little nibble upon which too cling too, I guess. I don't fault his presence; I applaud it and appreciate his participation. For without him, this project would be a complete failure.

I've got nothing against Adam Sandler and his sturdy camp. I just don't buy into his redundancy. I want him to quit being lazy. I want him to reinvent himself, just a tad. Don't listen to the detractors. Just because the critics didn't like Little Nicky doesn't mean you have to jump back to making films as crass and ugly as Big Daddy. Come on, you're supposed to be one of the top comedians of our day. If you've said all you have to say, then shut the f*ck up and sit down. Don't keep yabbering on with the same two lame jokes falling from your lips in a constant stream. When Carlton Sheets is more entertaining than your movie, you've got a big problem and a lot of time to make up for.

Here's to hoping Sandler's collaboration with PT Anderson is worth our time. And gee, I can't wait to see that Adam Sandler cartoon being released at Thanksgiving time. What, is he banking to be Rover Dangerfield Part 2? I might as well break down and let Dr. Nazo feel my nuts up for testicular cancer.

It could only be the better experience...

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