Mr. Deeds
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // $19.99 // October 22, 2002
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted October 21, 2002
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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 against Deeds.

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 problems.

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.

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