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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.