Adam Sandler has made his film career playing likeable guys who have meandered
through life and suddenly receive a wake-up call. His newest DVD release, Mr.
Deeds, is no exception to that rule, but the formula is becoming tired and Sandler
is developing in an actor that obviously wants to try something new.
Longfellow Deeds—Deeds to everyone—is a man of his name. He's
a likeable guy from a small town that fills his day writing greeting cards,
delivering pizza and performing good deeds. He welcomes everyone with a hug
and right away you can't help but like the character, partly from the
plot and partly from Sandler's likeability. He soon finds he is the only
living heir to the Blake Media (a Turner like ominous media corporation) fortune
and that he stands to inherit $40 billion.
With a few goodbyes, he's off to New York to lay low while the inheritance
is finished. Unknowingly, he's become the news story of the month because
everyone wants to know who will inherit the Blake fortune. Winona Ryder infiltrates
Deeds' life as school-nurse Pam Dawson, but she's really Babe Bennett,
a reporter for the tabloid television show Inside Access. Fueled by her hidden
camera footage and a desire for ratings, Inside Access begins a smear campaign
Seeing an opportunity, Chuck Cedar, played by Peter Gallagher (who's
been planning to sell the company) decides to work with Inside Access. His plan
to get Deeds to renounce his fortune and return home works and he, and the rest
of the stockholders, stand to make a millions from the dissolution of the company
and the sale of the stock. Deeds continues to do the unexpected and gives his
money away and returns to his small town home. After returning home, Deeds learns
of the impending dissolution of the Blake Media and the 50,000 people that will
lose their jobs. With that said, it's up to the plucky news reporter girlfriend
to uncover a surprising plot twist that solves everything in the end.
Overall, Deeds doesn't work because it's trying to be two different
films. There are moments of surreal and childish comedy interjected into the
plot that just don't fit. This may be a staple of Sandler's films,
they were kept to a minimum in what I feel was his most successful film, Big
Daddy. I think Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were hilarious, but Big Daddy
gave Sandler more to do than act stupid and the humor fit perfectly into the
story. Here it's crammed in between the other elements and while funny
by itself, none of it works together.
Video: As is typical with most releases now, video quality
isn't really an issue. The transfer preserves the original 1.85:1 aspect
fro the theater and colors and sharpness are bright. I did notice a bit of grain
and noise in the gray areas from time to time, but there are no glaring or distracting
Audio: The English 5.1 soundtrack is full and bright. The
vocals are clear and fill the center channel for the most part. There are a
few times when the get lost in the mix, but overall sound is great. The rears
and surrounds are used frequently in the effects and it adds a nice bit of interest.
Extras: The now standard director and writer commentary are
included on the disc, though it's not an outstanding one. Steven Brill
and Tim Herlihy supply only a vaguely interesting commentary, one that supports
partially what was wrong with the film. Neither seem to have a full grasp on
the film they made, or the original it was based upon.
There are also three documentaries that cover the entire process of making
the film. From Mandrake Falls to Manhattan is the longest and most
informative. It offers the standard complementary comments from cast and crew
intercut with scenes from the original. Spare No Expense deals with
the extravagance the production went to making Blake's life look extraordinary.
Clothes Make the Man is another short with Ellen Lutter (costume designer)
explaining the differences in the costumes from the original and remake.
The deleted scenes section lives up to its name, as this type of feature often
does. There is nothing particularly funny in this or the outtakes section. The
music video for the Dave Matthews Band song "Where Are You Going"
is included and is a welcome extra. Also found on the disc are several cards
"written" by Deeds. Sandler recites them and on a PC they can be
emailed to anyone.
Overall: Sandler has grown as an actor, but can't escape
the childish humor that infects the acting that he can do. The film is a 50/50
mix of surreal humor (Crazy Eyes) and small town guy makes good plot. Unfortunately,
the two contrast each other so, that it's impossible to get interested
in the film without be pulled from it the next. The dinner scene in the restaurant
was a nice example of Sandler's humor blended with the plot. In the next,
where he teams with John McEnroe, it's unfunny and unrealistic.