J.D. Lafrance
Adam Sandler Collection DVD Review

Adam Sandler Collection

June 20, 2006

Director: Dennis Dugan, Steven Brill, Peter Segal,
Starring: Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, Jared Harris, John Turturro, Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin, Dan Aykroyd, Lusia Strus,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

When Adam Sandler started making movies where he was the star they were a mix of childish frat boy humour and romance with more of an emphasis on what Kevin Smith would classify as “dick and fart jokes.” The best example of this early period would be Happy Gilmore (1996). With The Wedding Singer (1998) the emphasis shifted to romance with the best example to date being Big Daddy (1999).

Sonny Koufax (Sandler) is a lazy slacker, a law school dropout who now works a New York City tollbooth but his life changes when a five-year-old boy named Julian (Cole and Dylan Sprouse) shows up on his doorstep. It turns out that he’s the illegitimate son of his best friend (Stewart) who’s away on a business trip so Sonny decides to pose as the kid’s father in an attempt to impress his ex-girlfriend (Kirsty Swanson) and win her back. Along the way, he meets a cute, female lawyer (Adams) and learns an important lesson about responsibility.

Most of the film’s humour comes from Sonny teaching Julian all of his bad habits and his unorthodox parenting skills, like when the kid pees the bed and Sonny covers the stain with newspaper (this also applies to milk stains and vomit). Highlights include a cameo by Steve Buscemi as a homeless bum and Rob Schneider as a food delivery guy from another country (easily his best role to date).

The kids who play Julian are cute and not in an annoying way. They have good chemistry with Sandler as does Joey Lauren Adams who makes a nice couple with the comedian. Big Daddy is Sandler’s most successful blend of the smartass humour from his early films and the sweet romance from The Wedding Singer. Although, his love of the music of Styx is baffling.

Mr. Deeds (2002) is a remake of the classic Frank Capra classic, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) Sandler-style with the funnyman playing Longfellow Deeds, a small-town pizzeria owner who dreams of writing greeting cards for Hallmark. One day, he is informed by some big city snobs that a distant (and recently deceased) relative has left him $40 billion!

So, Deeds moves into his dead uncle’s ultra-posh mansion with his own personal butler (Turturro) who has an unusual foot fetish. He naively trusts Chuck Cedar (Gallagher), the head of his uncle’s estate who plans to cheat Deeds out of his money. To make his life even more difficult, the editor (Harris) of a tabloid television show has his star reporter Babe Bennett (Ryder) pose as a small-town school nurse in order to get close to Deeds and get the inside the scoop on his unusual public behaviour.

Mr. Deeds sets up a pretty obvious confrontation between the basic decency of Deeds and the evil duplicity of Chuck with the requisite love interest provided by the always fetching Winona Ryder (is it some kind of perverse initiation rite of passage for young actresses that they must do at least one Sandler film in their career?). Some highlights include Jared Harris’ sleazy tabloid T.V. editor complete with cheesy moustache. He is clearly having fun with the role as he gleefully chews up the scenery. You’ve also got John Turturro as the scene stealing butler who seems to shadow Deeds’ every move with lightning speed when he’s in the mansion.

Sandler’s films have never been known for their subtleties but Mr. Deeds is particularly obvious in its cliched plot devices. It really isn’t as funny as previous efforts with many gags falling flat or just feeling tired. It doesn’t help that Mr. Deeds is a film that didn’t really need to be remade in the first place.

Sandler fares a little better with 50 First Dates (2004) as he tries to recapture the success of The Wedding Singer by re-teaming with Drew Barrymore as his love interest yet again. He plays Henry Roth, a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy who works as a veterinarian at an aquarium in Hawaii and romances beautiful tourists that he has no chance of ever seeing again. He clearly has a fear of commitment but this all changes when he meets Lucy (Barrymore), a beautiful local girl, at a diner. He’s so smitten that he’s willing to break his own code and go out with her. They hit it off and the next day he meets her for breakfast but she doesn’t remember him at all. It turns out that she was in a terrible car accident that left her with no short term memory so that she does the same thing every day. Her father doesn’t have the heart to tell her and maintains the charade that it is in fact the day before her accident. Lucy is quite a tragic character and Barrymore makes her very sympathetic due in large part to infectious charm and personal charisma. Naturally, most of the film’s humour comes from Henry’s futile attempts to get Lucy to remember and fall in love with him day after day in a kind of riff on Groundhog Day (1993). Sandler and Barrymore still have chemistry together and the story is more ambitious than his usual fare.

Special Features:

This box set basically collects existing DVDs of these movies with nothing new added.

On the Big Daddy DVD is an “HBO First Look: The Making of ‘Big Daddy’” featurette hosted by Sandler, Schneider and the Sprouse kids at a Hooters. They talk about the film and show plenty of clips from it. It is pretty funny watching Sandler and Schneider try and ask the kids questions in this amusing extra.

Also included are music videos for Sheryl Crow’s cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “When I Grow Up” by Garbage. Both are pretty standard fare that mixes clips of the musicians performing and clips from the movie.

The Mr. Deeds DVD features an audio commentary by the film’s director Steven Brill and its screenwriter Tim Herlihy. Brill had been friends with Gallagher for many years (they were in Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies & videotape together) and had always wanted to do another movie together. The two men touch upon the original film and how they updated it. Herlihy speaks about the origins of certain gags and the genesis of certain characters. This is a surprisingly informative and engaging track as these guys keep each other talking and actually have something interesting to say making this almost a better experience than watching the movie with its original audio!

There are six deleted scenes with some pretty funny bits, including an amusing story that Deeds tells on the helicopter ride to New York City.

“From Mandrake Falls to Manhattan” features cast and crew interviews with clips from the movie. The filmmakers talk about the original Deeds movie and how it was adapted for contemporary times. Sandler wanted Ryder as his love interest and she loved the film’s sense of humour. A nice if slight extra.

“Clothes Make the Man” takes a look at the costume design. Sandler was very conscious of wanting to look like a very approachable guy and so his wardrobe reflected that. Babe’s transformation was reflected in her clothes.

Also included is a music video for “Where Are You Going” by the Dave Matthews Band that is a clunky, CGI-heavy video that seems jarring in contrast to the song.

There is an “Outtakes Reel” that features a funny collection of blown lines by the cast.

Finally, there is a collection of “Deeds Greeting Cards” read by Sandler with pretty basic animation accompanying his voice.

50 First Dates features an audio commentary by actress Drew Barrymore and the film’s director Peter Segal. The two of them deliver a pleasantly engaging track as they recall numerous filming anecdotes. They touch upon the original screenplay which was much more dramatic but Sandler and his writers lightened it up considerably.

“The Dating Scene” is a pretty standard featurette with interview soundbites and clips from the film. Barrymore discovered the script and then Sandler came on board as they were interested in working together again.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 79%



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