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Mr. Deeds

Starring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder
Screenplay by Tim Herlihy
Adapted from Frank Capra's Mr Deeds Goes to Town, original screenplay by Robert Riskin and based on a story by Clarence Budkington Kelland
Directed by Steven Brill

IN SHORT: Absolutely not for kids. [Rated PG-13 for language including sexual references, and some rear nudity. 91 minutes]

Once upon a time the Ratings Board had a rule whereby only a certain, limited number of four letter words were allowed in a film before a [PG-13] rating automatically became an [R]. The net result were a lot of [R] rated movies which was thought to be a good thing because what self-respecting 15 year old wouldn't want to sneak into an [R] rated movie. Somewhere along the line, someone started cracking down and PG-13 became the preferred rating and most [PG-13] movies are tame enough that you could take your nine year old in and not have to worry too much.

Once upon a time we thought Adam Sandler was actually beginning to mellow. Perhaps outgrow the vicious stupidity which, at least to us, marked his movies as anything but funny. But then we have the baggage of two years with a halo brace screwed into our face so just about anything involving smashing the body for a cheap laff isn't funny to us anymore -- once upon a time we loved the Three Stooges, too, so it isn't as if we never had the ability to laugh at someone else getting beat to a pulp.

Once upon a time -- last time we'll milk that line, promise -- we knew Frank Capra, director of the original Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, too. This site does not compare to Source Material, referenced above. If you keep an altar to Mr. C in the living room, well, you won't be going to an Adam Sandler movie. Then again, we had a pair of sixty-ish ladies sitting next to us at our screening and damned if they didn't actually cover their eyes every time some poor sap got his lights punched out again and again and again and again (and again and again and again), cackling all the while. Word.

All that is left of the original is a name and a concept that has been successfully milked by other hit movies throughout the years. What is present on the screen this time out is a standard Adam Sandler type movie, with a torrent of variations on the word "poop" that defeat its publicized nature as a simple slapstick romantic comedy. The kidlets in our crew are 9 and 12 and both were eager to see the film. No bloody way.

Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) is the successful owner of the only pizzeria in sedate Mandrake Falls, New Hampshire. He's a happy man who aspires to writing Hallmark Greeting Cards. Reads his submissions to his customers once a week. Has never uttered a four letter word. He takes it in stride when fancy suit wearing out of towners Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher) and his lackey Cecil Anderson (Erick Avari) who have come up from the big city to inform Mr. Deeds that a long lost relative (Harve Presnell) has crossed the Great Divide, leaving him heir to an estate worth $40 Billion. Deeds also gets as well as a chain of radio and television stations, a Park Avenue mansion in the big city of New York and ownership of a football team that sucks.

Kind of like a country cousin in the big city, Deeds likes to hug everyone he meets and is thrilled that his new mansion has rooms so large they echo. Kind of like a five year old mind set in a thirty year old body; very sweet and polite with a mean right hook. He's looked after by a quirky manservant -- outside of New York he'd be called "pervert" -- Emilio Lopez (John Turturro), who prides himself on being "sneaky sneaky" and provides enough non-sadistic humor that there's something for everyone in this movie. The love interest is provided by one "Pam Dawson" (Winona Ryder) of Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa a "virginal schoolteacher" who is, in reality, a reporter named Babe Bennet in the employ of a sleazy tabloid teevee show. Of course, every one thinks that Deeds is a country bumpkin and tries to get their piece. Every one is proved to be even dumber than (their perception of) Deeds.

Love. Betrayal. Redemption. Surprise ending. Lots of exaggerated slapstick and physical abuse. Same old same old. Only the character performance of John Turturro made Mr. Deeds palatable to us, and his great work made all the other abusive gags that normally would have had us rolling the eyeballs tolerable.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mr. Deeds, he would have paid . . .


dateflick level for those of you who know who you are and what you're getting into. A Sandler movie is a Sandler movie is a Sandler movie. We don't mind a little abuse. Everything in moderation.

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