Mr Deeds

"Zero"

Mr Deeds Review


As someone who watches upwards of 500 movies a year, I've seen more than my fair share of bad remakes. But I've never seen one do anything as stomach-turning as the way Adam Sandler's new movie rapes, pillages and incinerates Frank Capra's classic "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town."

Entitled just "Mr. Deeds" and punctuated with elementary dialogue and the worst kind of feel-good muzak score, it doesn't contain a single sincere moment, a single performance that would pass muster in an elementary school play or a single scene without glaring continuity problems. Different takes within the same conversations don't even sync up -- ever.

As in Capra's very funny and heartfelt hallmark, the story is about a modest, idealistic small-town schnook named Longfellow Deeds (Sandler) who inherits a fortune from a distant uncle and is swept away to New York City, where ruthless tabloid scrutiny turns him into an object of both scorn and laughter. Leading the smear campaign is an ambitious female reporter (Winona Ryder), who poses as a fellow wide-eyed out-of-towner. But while trying to railroad Deeds into splashy front-page behavior, she falls for the guy, has a change of heart and decides to help save him from the urban wolves.

Capra's 1936 flick starred Gary Cooper as the earnest Deeds, who eventually finds himself the subject of a sanity trial when he decides to do something startling: give his inheritance away to help those struggling through the Great Depression. Jean Arthur played the wicked-jawed newspaper reporter who discovered her soft side.

But Sandler's Deeds has no such noble intentions for his $40 billion (adjusted for inflation from the original's $20 million). He just wants to keep the greedy board of his uncle's media empire from holding a fire sale after they get him out of the way. The movie's climax is a shareholder's meeting -- yawn! -- in which Sandler gives one of the worst-written speeches in cinema history ("There's still hope for the kids inside all of us," he tells the crowd. "Please don't break up my uncle's company.")

Meanwhile, Ryder turns tough cookie Babe Bennett into a TV tabloid reporter who hates her job but is too timid to stand up for herself, strangling every bit of snap right out of the character until she's as lifeless as an rag doll.

Galloping off toward totally different moods (Ryder ends half her scenes in tears), the actors have clearly been left to their own devices by director Steven Brill, whose work is so haphazard and uniformly incompetent that after a while I was genuinely surprised that the actors even remained in the frame.

I find Adam Sandler to be a hilarious stand-up comic, but the only passable movie I've seen him in was "The Wedding Singer" -- the one that didn't have any of his cronies on the payroll, kissing up to him. I thought his film career couldn't sink any lower than 2000's "Little Nicky" (also directed by Brill, Sandler's buddy) in which the comedian played the retarded son of Satan. But that movie had zero aspirations, and it did boast a hilarious cameo by Reese Witherspoon as a Valley girl angel.

This flick has nothing but its aspirations. Sandler is so flat and uninteresting he's virtually transparent. His idea of giving Deeds personality is to over-burden the character with quirks like hugging instead of shaking hands, using the word "wicked" so much you'd think he was from Boston instead of Mandrake Falls, N.H., and writing bad greeting card limericks as a hobby.

Ryder and John Turturro ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?") are both seat-squirmingly ham-fisted (the latter as Deed's eccentric butler with a foot fetish), and poor Peter Gallagher ("American Beauty") is force-fed scenery to chew in a cartoonish role full of first-draft dialogue as the money-grubbing chairman of the board at the uncle's company.

Say what you like about Frank Capra's Pollyannaish cinematic style, his iconic characters always tapped into something innately real and human, and at the end of his films you always feel something in your heart. When this movie was over, all I felt was sick to my stomach.



Mr Deeds

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th June 2002

Box Office USA: $126.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $171.3M

Budget: $50M

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Happy Madison, Out of the Blue... Entertainment

Reviews

Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 121

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Longfellow Deeds, as Babe Bennett, as Emilio Lopez, as Marty, as Chuck Cedar, as Cecil Anderson, as Mac McGrath, as Crazy Eyes, as Jan, as Murph, as Preston Blake

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.