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MR. DEEDS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, Jared Harris, Allen Covert, Erick Avari, John Turturro
Director: Steven Brill
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: October 22, 2002

“You just inherited 40 billion dollars from your great-Uncle.”

“Oh, I have an Uncle? That’s so cool.”

Film **

I found quite a few laughs in the latest Adam Sandler outing, Mr. Deeds, but I also encountered a sense of overblown sentimentality. Since this is loosely a rework of Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, you would think to expect something of that sort, but when you have an acquired taste like Sandler at helm, it’s better to stay with the outrageousness and not go down the feel-good route. By the end of this movie, we’re just about expected to shed a tear or two, a la Big Daddy, a feeling which didn’t sit right with me at all.

Mr. Deeds reunites Sandler with director Steven Brill and writer Tim Herlihy, the same team that made Sandler’s previous entry, Little Nicky. That movie remains Sandler’s least successful movie, and it also remains my favorite Sandler movie because for once, the actor/comedian was given a different character to play, which was one that a hundred percent idiotic, something Sandler can play marvelously. I stand by my original review and will go as far to say that it’s a lot better than this one.

The movie opens with the sudden death of wealthy media mogul Preston Blake (Harve Presnell), who is frozen to death while attempting to climb a treacherous icy mountain. The aftermath of his passing creates hysteria for the media empire he left behind, and who the heir of the 40 billion dollar worthy enterprise is. Enter Longfellow Deeds (Sandler), a happy going pizza delivery/greeting card reader who resides in the quiet New Hampshire town of Mandrake Falls. Deeds discovers through a visit from company representative Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher) that he has indeed earned an astonishing 40 billion dollars from his late great uncle. Soon, the innocent Deeds is off to the Big Apple to oversee his new inheritance.

With Deeds being the new talk of the town, many news programs will be wanting a big cover story on him. The host of a sleazy tabloid news show (Jared Harris) assigns his producer, Babe (Winona Ryder), to go undercover and get the inside scoop on Deeds by, of course, winning his heart. After several dates, where which Babe, under the name of Pam Dawson—Virgin School Nurse, videotapes with a secret hidden video camera, the aspiring journalist discovers that she truly is falling in love with him. And you can pretty much predict the rest of where the story will go from there.

I sound like I’m panning this film a great deal, but I did laugh occasionally, especially in the scenes of the tabloid show exposing Deeds from the outings with Babe/Pam, which includes a funny scene with pro tennis bad boy John McEnroe. The big scene stealer of the movie is John Turturro, who camps it up as Emilio, the super sneaky butler who happens to have a thing for feet.

All in all, Mr. Deeds is an at times fun movie, with some good laughs as in mostly all of  Adam Sandler’s films, but the all too sweet and sentimental third act of the movie wears the movie down. A mixed review.

Video ***1/2

This is a most pleasant anamorphic offering from the pros at Columbia Tri Star. The picture quality is at times mostly stunning, with clarity and sharpness at a high level. Colors appear extraordinarily natural, amounting to one of the best color displays I’ve seen recently. The end result is a most terrific video job from one of the top studios around. A full-frame version of the movie is available separately.

Audio ***

A more than good enough audio mix for a comedy movie that is mostly comprised of dialogue and several moments of physical comedy. The 5.1 track provides a suitable sound effect for a comedy of this caliber, whose high points mostly come in scenes that offer music score and outrageous sound effects to some of the comedy.

Features ****

Definitely the high point of the disc! Included are three featurettes; “Clothes Make the Man”, “From Mandrake Falls to Manhattan”, and “Spare No Expense”. Also featured is a running commentary by director Steven Brill and writer Tim Herlihy, some deleted scenes, an outtakes reel, some samples of Deeds’ Greeting Cards, a music video for the Dave Matthews Band song “Where Are You Going?”, and trailers.

Summary:

Mr. Deeds has its moments, but it simply doesn’t rank as one of Sandler’s best. If you want his best, settle with Little Nicky, Happy Gilmore, or The Wedding Singer instead.

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