ninth symphony films - movie reviews

MR. DEEDS (2002)

DIRECTOR  -  steven brill

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy?

LENGTH  -  91 minutes

RELEASED  -  27 december 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  sony pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  mr. deeds

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $50,000,000
mr. deeds - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from mr. deeds at

buy the dvd from mr. deeds at

a sweet-natured, small-town guy inherits a controlling stake in a media conglomerate and begins to do business his way.

adam sandler created a series of online greeting cards for to promote this movie. his character in the film is an aspiring greeting card designer.


picture from mr. deeds

picture from mr. deeds

picture from mr. deeds


ZERO out of four possible stars

See Adam Sandler play Adam Sandler in the latest Adam Sandler movie, Mr. Deeds. Although the slightly stupid yet always endearing character he has played in all his films was entertaining in Billy Madison and funny in Happy Gilmore, his persona on the screen is no longer sympathetic. And neither does he have the ability to entertain the audience by playing the same character in every film. While some actors have been able to get away with putting on the same face for every performance (Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman), Adam Sandler's routine is outdated and archaic.

Is it enough for Adam Sandler to perform his same old shtick in each movie he makes? On screen, it looks as if he isn't even trying to act. He just stands in front of the camera and expects people to be entertained and struck dumb by whatever he says. But Sandler's inability to delight the audience was readily apparent to this author when, during the screening of this film, laughs from fellow ticket buyers were nonexistent throughout the entire run. That Sandler has some talent for comedy should not be disputed; his Hanukkah song is funny every time he sings it. But in his films, it looks as though he's resisted trying anything new in his performances. And this problem is compounded by the fact that in this film, he has no chemistry with any of his co-stars.

And especially with his romantic interest, Winona Ryder, Sandler is particularly miss-matched. After viewing the scenes these two actors share on the screen, it makes one wonder who thought they would ever resemble a couple of devoted lovers. Perhaps it was that both Ryder and Sandler are so famous that the producers decided not to ruffle those actors' expensive feathers by suggesting the two actually perform a screen test. And Ryder is not exactly at her shining best in this film, chemistry issues aside. It may be that she has just perfected the dark and depressing look of depressing movie roles, but her talents just don't have a chance to shine in this film. That reason being because she doesn't have any great dialogue or scenes to work in.

Bad casting aside, this film doesn't boast the best-written script either. Although the film that it's based upon wasn't considered a genius film when it was released either, the Mr. Deeds of 2002 isn't even in the same league as Frank Capra's 1936 comedy. The many elements of this film: the writing, the acting, and even the soundtrack, don't come together very well. It's as if the whole package was thrown together quite haphazardly in the hopes that a few big names on the marquee would stand out to ticket buyers and garner a few million dollars. But judging from the finished product, there was a considered lack of success on the screen when all those elements came together.

It's too bad that the screenwriter here weren't able to create more originality with their dialogue or in the situations in which they placed their characters. But who knows if a more clever script could have saved this movie? Tim Herlihy, the screenwriter, has been behind the pen and ink of all Adam Sandler's movies, and though he's never been the author of any script that would be considered genius, and this attempt as screenwriting is definitely one of his lesser efforts. It's as if the scenes he's written were created simply as devices to let Adam Sandler show off. But Sandler's character is neither endearing nor is he in any way likeable. So, combining the lack of real humor in the film with the lame script, and the recipe for disaster is complete.

And add in the additional mistakes of bad casting across the board only complicate matters. It's almost painful to see John Turturro play the Spanish butler who literally sneaks up on an actor in every scene he's in. His dialogue is forgettable and the joke about his "sneakiness" gets old after the second time he does it. And considering he performs the gag at least seven times in the film, it is an indication of the lack of creativity present in this film. And the hand to hand combat scene between Winona Ryder and Conchata Ferrell just completes the bad ideas surrounding this movie. Did the producers really need to resort to a catfight to garner laughs form the audience?

It is clear that the theme of this film has got to be mediocrity. As is common with so many comedy films lately, especially Adam Sandler films, the screenwriting, the acting, the poor attention to the soundtrack, are disappointing. One has to wonder if director Steven Brill had any control over his own film. With Sandler producing and Sandler's best friend, Tim Hirlihy behind the script, it's doubtful that Brill had any influence at all on the outcome of this film. There's literally nothing to recommend about any of its 96 excruciating minutes. Hollywood doesn't put out many films without any redeeming features to speak of, but Adam Sandler has managed in spades to bring about a tired looking film where any talent he might have brought to the story was definitely left on the cutting room floor.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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