Mr. Deeds

Mr. Deeds
Starring Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder. Directed by Steven Brill. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0 No one seems particularly surprised that the new Adam Sandler vehicle is hardly worthy of comparison with the Frank Capra classic on which it is nominally based. After all, Sandler’s track record is such that there was never any reason to suspect he might be a valid choice to play the Gary Cooper role in a contemporary version of Capra’s 1937 film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

But the mere fact that this new Deeds has been bankrolled and released is a rather grotesque comment on the American movie industry. While Capra’s original has undergone some re-tailoring here to make accommodations for the Sandler brand of humor, the results fail on all counts—Mr. Deeds is not only unworthy of Capra (whose film it both cheapens and disfigures), but it is also a nearly complete waste of whatever talents Adam Sandler might have shown to this point.

Even in its Sandlerized form, Mr. Deeds requires its lead actor to endorse sentiments of the sort that Adam Sandler normally specializes in mocking. So much the worse that this willfully commercial enterprise completely botches the still-urgent themes of Capra’s original: philanthropy and corporate greed.

John Turturro, who plays Deeds’ butler, is the only comic success in this weirdly unfunny film. Winona Ryder, who plays Deeds’ love interest here, looks good but musters no more conviction than her co-star.