Small-town pizza parlour person Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) becomes an overnight millionaire when he gets news from corporate wheeler dealer Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher) that his media mogul uncle Preston Blake has left him a $40 billion inheritance of media chains, sports teams and a private helicopter. The latter whisks him to New York where the evening tabloid tv shows are salivating over the hicksville heir and TV reporter Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder), at the prompting of her boss Mac McGrath (Jared Harris), goes under cover to dig for dirt on Deeds. Neither Deeds nor Babe expect the consequences. Nor does Chuck.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The small-town decency of middle America amidst the corporate greed of big city USA; that’s the message. And we get it several times. There’s not much else to the film, and even that is an idea borrowed from a Frank Capra classic. But where Capra’s simplicity is elegant and his characters are genuine, this film’s simplicity is really just a case of going through the motions. Perfunctory is the word. As for character… well, Adam Sandler is so even tempered he doesn’t even get mad when he beats people to a pulp. His homegrown wisdom and decency [which sit oddly with his violence] are like a cloak he wears, while Winona Ryder does the best she can with a sloppy role. Actually, sloppy is a word that comes to mind a lot. The John McEnroe cameo is not much more than bravado, and Steve Buscemi is a just a running gag. But there are amiable elements, too, notably John Turturro’s wonderfully fey Spanish butler (with a secret even he doesn’t know) and some amusing moments and clever lines. It’s not much, but Adam Sandler fans may well think the film is a treasure chest.
Review by Louise Keller:
It’s corny, crazy, but kinda cute. And while Mr Deeds may not bear much more than a passing whiff of resemblance to Frank Capra’s Mr Deeds Goes to Town, this Adam Sandler vehicle has enough chuckles to make you smile and enough heart to at least take the chill of a wintry night. Mr Deeds is a bubble of Hollywood nonsense that mostly succeeds, not for its brilliant script or dazzling innovation, but for the casting of the brilliant John Turturro and the quiet, dumb humour that Sandler seems to do well. But you need to be in tune with it. It’s not outrageously funny, but you have to geddit. It gently creeps up on you. Remember, this is a film where Deeds hugs everyone (‘Shakes are for strangers – we hug around here’), and you need to cope with Sandler singing with a banana as a microphone, and spouting banal verse that Hallmark rejects. As for the nonsense, I love the notion of Deeds shimmying up a drainpipe and tossing seven cats out of a multi-storey building on fire, before rescuing and flying through the air with a fat Afro American woman. But Turturro’s delicious Spanish manservant Emilio – he with the foot fetish and the mannerisms that rival those of Hank Azaria’s in The Bird Cage – is the crème de la crème. Then there’s Steve Buscemi’s deranged weirdo ‘Crazy Eyes’ and an interesting turn by former tennis super-brat John McEnroe when he and Sandler bond and subsequently have a night on the town, which involves throwing eggs at passing cars. Winona Ryder does a fair job as the fair damsel who starts off by taking Deeds for a ride, but ends up capturing his heart. It’s harmless fun if you’re not too demanding and underneath it all, there’s a moral about dreams, the individual versus corporate greed and never changing who you are. Mr Deeds may not be the film The Wedding Singer was, but it’s all good fun escapism, and certainly leaves you feeling as though you’ve had welcome relief from the real world.
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MR DEEDS (M)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turtorro, Steve Buscemi, Jared Harris, Peter Gallagher
PRODUCER: Sidney Ganis, Jack Giarraputo
DIRECTOR: Steven Brill
SCRIPT: Tim Herlihy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Lyons Collister
EDITOR: Jeff Gourson
MUSIC: Teddy Castellucci
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Perry Andelin Blake
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 22, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: March 12, 2003