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Mr. Deeds
Mr. Deeds (Soundtrack)
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (The 1936 Classic)

Mr. Deeds goes to Washington (Double Sided)
Mr. Deeds goes to Washington (Double Sided)
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Mr. Deeds Review

Directed By: Steven Brill.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Steve Buscemi, Peter Gallagher, Jared Harris.

Synopsis: In this homage to the 1936 Frank Capra classic, Adam Sandler plays Mr. Deeds, a small-town man who inherits a fortune.

Is it just me or is remaking the original with Adam Sandler in Gary Cooper's role and Winona Ryder in Jean Arthur's just the biggest mistake since Heaven's Gate? As for those who will read this and scoff, then you obviously haven't seen the original.

Okay, so I wrote the above before having seen the movie. Having since seen the movie, my opinion doesn't quite change. I honestly believe a really good movie should never be remade (and yet I liked the re-make of Insomnia - I'm a creature of inconsistencies). Why not grab an old movie that didn't do so well, fix all the original problems it may have suffered from and remake that film? After all, someone must have thought the film was worth making at one point...maybe it just needs some re-tooling without a built in audience expectation. But Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, re-made with Adam Sandler as Gary Cooper?

Still, I gave it a chance. I am not an Adam Sandler fan but I do love The Wedding Singer and have been known to laugh at Happy Gilmore, and the first half hour of Mr. Deeds gave me hope that maybe I was seeing something that, while not art was mildly amusing. I was, despite my misgivings, enjoying the film, and then, somehow, it slowly became what I originally expected...a few funny moments but a vapid and empty ending.

The positive? John Turturro as his manservant Emilio who is a "sneaky, sneaky" man with a foot fetish. He had some great little moments that were not in the trailer.

A negative. Steve Buscemi. I am surprised to be writing this as he usually one of the highlights of a Adam Sandler film, this time again, not so much.

Hovering between positive and negative are the so-so performances by Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder. The film flips between sweet, good-natured goofy humour to just over the top violent little sequences (and yes I realize Cooper punched out a man or two in his version as well, but the difference was style and charm. Sandler comes off less likeable and more thug-like in these moments before reverting back to the guy we are supposed to be rooting for. One of Sandler's best moments is when he fires the quarterback from his football team for not trying and then following it up with some homespun (albeit violent as well) fence talk with his father. Meanwhile, Winona Ryder is simply being the female foil needed to give Mr. Deeds a little bit of sex appeal...she does that ably enough, but the unkindest comparison of all is placing her in a Jean Arthur role. Winona Ryder, loved you in Heathers, but you are no Jean Arthur.

Basically, Mr. Deeds is missing the charm and even drama of the original. The original was made by a craftsman (Frank Capra) who could mesh a perfectly dramatic scene followed by a truly comedic one without ever breaking the belief barrier. In his case though it also helps he had the phenomenal talent Robert Riskin writing the screenplays. In the re-make Steve Brills has done a by the numbers job, competent but little more.

While I never expected to love this movie, I was surprised I liked it at all and give the film 2.5 stars out of 5 just for being better than the cesspool of celluloid I was prepared for.

Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul

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