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"Mr. Deeds"

Directed by Steven Brill.
Written by Tim Herlihy.  Based on the 1936 film "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." 
Starring Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  7/1/02 


You know, I still remember when I saw my first Adam Sandler film.  My roommate Rob told me that “Happy Gilmore” was on TV one night while we were at college, and I remember thinking, “Shit.  I’m sure that is going to be one of the worst films of all time.”  But, everyone else in my apartment was watching it, so I stuck around and watched the thing from beginning to end.

I think I laughed at almost every single scene.

Man, “Happy Gilmore” surprised the hell out of me.  Sure, it was dumb fun, but it was good dumb fun, aided immeasurably by cameos by just two people:  Bob Barker, in his hilarious fight scene with Sandler on the golf course (“The price is wrong, bitch!”)...and, one of the funniest cameos of all time, Ben Stiller as the violent male nurse (“Sure...I can get you a glass of Shut the Hell Up!!”).  Plus there are a half-dozen other fall-out-of-your-seat funny scenes and a good number of hearty-laughter scenes.

Why have none of Sandler’s other movies been able to capture this magic?  I went back and saw “Billy Madison”; average.  “The Wedding Singer” had some good laughs.  But, “The Waterboy”, “Big Daddy” and—ugh—“Little Nicky” have been nowhere near the talent level of “Happy Gilmore.”  Oh, and did I forget “Bulletproof”?  I’m sure that you did!

Sadly, “Mr. Deeds” follows the trend of his last three films, as Sandler plays another dimwit with middling success.  And, the quality of the jokes and talent around Sandler pales in comparison to his other films.  This time around, Sandler plays Deeds, a New Hampshire pizza shop owner that finds out his uncle left him a fortune of $40 billion in stock from the uncle’s vast media empire.  Upon traveling to New York City to claim his fortune, Deeds meets a beautiful nurse (Winona Ryder) that happens to really be a reporter for a tabloid TV show trying to expose what an idiot this Deeds guy really is.  Along the way, Deeds makes quite an impression on those stereotypically stuck-up Manhattanites by saving a woman from a burning building, giving money to the homeless and putting the star quarterback of the New York Jets in his place by chastising him for cursing with women in the room.

The plot is served warm at a buffet full of bullshit, as Sandler makes his way through dialogue that features ten words or less at almost every turn.  Ryder seems to be trying her hardest with material that is beneath her; when was the last time she was in a good film?  John Turturro (of all people!) co-stars as Deeds’ personal assistant, and he has just enough funny lines to save this film from Hard Vice-dom.  But, why is the gifted Turturro in this film?  You don’t expect a regular veteran of the Coen Brothers’ films and Spike Lee Joints to be in a sophomoric teen comedy...

...but then again, what the hell is Steve Buscemi doing in “Mr. Deeds”?  Baffling!!  Maybe these guys go way back with Sandler or something, because their presence here is shocking.  “Mr. Deeds” is made worse by a bad script and a soundtrack written by a middle-school student.  Luckily, there are a couple laughs thanks to Turturro, a cameo by John McEnroe, and a hilarious sequence featuring a dad, his son, and a leather belt.  None of this is worth the trip, though, so skip this one if you hadn’t already planned too!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09