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Sandler Taps the Bottom of the Idiot Keg
Review by Andrew Manning (6/99)

Release: 1999, Sony
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kristy Swanson, Joey Lauren Adams, Leslie Mann, Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse
Director: Dennis Dugan
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language
Genre: Comedy

Nature called. Look who answered...


Sonny Koufax (Sandler) is a clueless slacker. When his girlfriend leaves him because of his lack of focus and purpose in life, he adopts a kid to prove he can be just as responsible as the next guy. But what starts off as a cheap ploy to lure his girlfriend back becomes more complicated when he actually grows attached to his new son.


Spurts of crude humor will appease fans of Adam Sandler, but the serious, sentimental moments are excruciatingly sappy and lame!


If you've seen Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and The Waterboy, you know the drill: Adam Sandler plays an idiot. And as that new dude on Saturday Night Live who plays the guitar says, Sandler basically has four stages of voices: mumbling, whining, anger, and screaming. The accuracy of that statement basically supports the fact that Sandler is a one trick pony. Still, that trick is sometimes hilarious...

The funniest moments of Big Daddy come with its physical comedy: when Sandler beams the kid with the baseball, when the kid trips rollerbladers by tossing a stick in their path, etc. The jokes are crude and virtually non-stop, and the movie makes for a good time at the movies if you're simply looking for dumb comedy.


Unfortunately, I have a lot more negative things to say than positive ones on this flick. I consider myself a fan of Sandler's movies. I liked Bulletproof, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Billy Madison, and The Waterboy. But I would easily say, without a doubt, that Big Daddy was the weakest of them all. No doubt I am currently in an Austin Powers funk: after seeing how funny and talented Sandler's fellow SNL alum Mike Myers is, Sandler's one note shtick seems pretty lame. I suppose it would be grossly unfair to compare the two movies, but comedy is comedy. And when you've already had a dose of Dr. Evil going med-fricken-ieval on Jerry Springer and Fat Bastard trying to eat Mini-Me, it's hard to find much hilarity in Sandler's tired old screaming idiot routine.

Sandler's rehashed act of screaming in a McDonald's because he's a few minutes too late for breakfast seemed funnier in Falling Down. And don't even get me started on Rob Schneider making yet another appearance in a Sandler flick. It's just a matter of a B-list SNL ex getting some charity work from an A-minus-list SNL ex, and it's really sort of sad.

But the worst parts of Big Daddy are the insipid moments of seriousness, when the movie turns from dumb comedy to touching heartfelt drama. And sadly, you know it's coming from the moment he adopts the kid. Of course he grows attached to the boy, we saw it coming from a mile away! By the end, he comes to learn the true meaning of responsibility, and finds that he just can't part with the little nipper! Boo-hoo-hoo-friggen-hoo! Somebody get me a handkerchief and a bucket! These utterly cloying moments of sappy timeouts are painful to behold. Sandler's brand of humor does best when it takes nothing seriously, and this melodramatic crap simply didn't fit in with an otherwise funny movie. Hell, you have to go back to Cop and a Half before you find a comedy treatment this mechanically formulaic and scheming!

I suggest you all do yourselves a favor and see The Spy Who Shagged Me or one of the other aforementioned Sandler movies instead. Because at best, Big Daddy is merely a rental.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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