Hollywood Remake Machine™ turns and spews forth a loose remake of Frank Capra’s excellent Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936) in which Gary Cooper was up for an Oscar for the title character. In the end it was just also nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and won Best Director. So the remake has its work cut out, which unfortunately it doesn’t quite reach the same heights – with the exception of one person who should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but more of that later.
Adam Sandler is Longfellow Deeds, a pizza parlour owner and aspiring greeting card author, living in a small, sleepy New Hampshire town. Deeds happy little life is interrupted with the arrival of smarmy corporate executive Cedar (Peter Gallagner) and his right hand man Cecil (Erick Avari) who break the news that Deeds uncle (Harve Presnell) has died.
This bit of news is startling to Deeds who didn’t know that he even had an Uncle and that he is now the sole heir to the Deeds fortune - $40 Billion. So Deeds is asked to come to New York to complete some paperwork by Cedar, just for legal reasons.
So with Deeds lounging in his uncle’s Manhattan penthouse, surrounded by servants, namely head butler Emilio (a fantastic performance by John Turturro), Cedar plots to takeover the company.
With Deeds oblivious to Cedars plans, his life takes a turn for the better when he meets Pam Dawson (Winona Ryder) a school teacher also from a sleepy town now living in New York.
What Deeds doesn’t know is that ‘Pam’ is actually Babe Bennett, a reporter for sleazy tabloids show Inside Access, and is only with Deeds to dish the dirt on him. Using a hidden camera she manages to film him getting into fights at exclusive restaurants and spending a drunken night with John McEnroe throwing eggs at cars and causing mischief.
As with all romantic comedies, the inevitable happens, the more time that Pam spends with Deeds the more she begins to fall for him. With Cedars plans coming into fruition, Deeds still believes that everything is well with the world, only to have everything fall apart on him when he learns the truth about Cedar and more importantly for him, Pam.
Mr Deeds isn’t a brilliant film by a long shot, but it has enough charm to carry it through. Surprisingly most of that charm isn’t really supplied by the whole cast just three key people, Adam Sandler, Erick Avari and John Turturro. Others such as Winona Ryder (who’s a little too annoying), Peter Gallagher, and Sandler regular Steve Buscemi (as a cross eyed weirdo) are okay but they seem to coast along a little too much. Sandler is good and he plays Longfellow Deeds with the same sort of charm that he displayed in Happy Gilmore. Indian actor Erick Avari, who is one of those actors who has done a lot of big films (Independence Day, Planet Of The Apes, Stargate, The Mummy and the upcoming Dare Devil movie), but hardly any one knows his name, is good in his brief role complete with Abraham Lincoln style beard.
John Turturro is excellent – why though? It just doesn’t make sense as his role is also very brief and limited, but he’s just brilliant and adds another notch to his already impressive bedpost of scene stealing characters. He is worth the admission price alone. Give him a damn Oscar just for the hell of it! Who else in a limited, swift and very very sneaky role as a butler, who hails from Spain, whose loyalties to his boss are almost as strong as his fetish for feet, can steal the lions share of the laughs?
Over all Mr Deeds is an okay enough movie that, although light-weight and not comparable to the original, is still entertaining enough to keep interest. Hopefully the bizarre talents of Adam Sandler are extended more in the upcoming Punch Drunk Love but for now this is should keep his fans happy.
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