Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turturro, Peter Gallagher, Jared Harris
A sloppy comedy about a small-town rube who inherits $40 billion and moves to Manhattan, Mr. Deeds may please devoted fans of Sandler's slap-happy brand of comedy. But it won't win over any converts.
Sandler specializes in playing men who seem half-formed; one isn't sure if they're missing marbles or simply have a lot of growing up to do. Longfellow Deeds, his character in Mr. Deeds, is no exception. The owner of a pizzeria in a New Hampshire burg, he spends his off-hours writing greeting-card verse. (Sample: "I promise to love you 50 years more, even when your bosom drags down to the floor.") Upon inheriting control of a global corporation from a distant relative, Deeds heads to the Big Apple, where conniving corporate bigwigs try to fleece him, sophisticated swells patronize him, and a comely TV journalist (Ryder) cozies up to him only to ridicule him on the air.
A remake of 1936's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, a dandy screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper, this Deeds fails to improve upon the original. And what's with the newly added sadistic streak? Deeds now whups all comers to the accompaniment of bone-crushing sound effects. Sandler's appeal, such as it is, continues to be his slob-next-door ordinariness; if this guy can be a movie star, so can your neighbor Melvin. Ryder tries hard to get in the wacky swing of things but seems distinctly uncomfortable, drawing back as if from a bad smell. Deeds marks the second effort by Sandler and director Steven Brill, who last teamed on the woeful Little Nicky (2000). Between Nicky and Deeds, it's clear that pairing two decidedly minor talents does not add up to a greater whole. (PG-13)