Big Daddy
Rating -

Cast & Crew info:
Comedy (US); 1999; Rated PG-13; 95 Minutes

Cast
Adam Sandler: Sonny Koufax
Cole & Dylan Sprouse: Julian
Joey Lauren Adams: Layla
Jon Stewart: Kevin Gerrity
Steve Buscemi: Homeless Man

Produced by Sid Ganis and Jack Giarraputo; Directed by Dennis Dugan; Screenwritten by Steve Franks, Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler

Review Uploaded
7/09/99

Written by DAVID KEYES

Imagine sitting in a park, closely watching a boy and his son. You see no family resemblance, yet you find it hard to believe that they aren't father & son. Then the young boy throws a large stick into the path of a moving roller-blader. He and his father laugh. You suspect his father would be more serious when it comes to cruel practical jokes, then you realize that his father is actually Adam Sandler. Quick: who would you rather punish?

Why do I ask this question? Because Sandler is the kind of actor whose roles resemble one another: they are adolescent, childish creeps who remain detached from responsibility just as much as they do from normal brain function. Much like the people of "The Waterboy" and "Happy Gilmore," his character in "Big Daddy" is every parent's worst nightmare: the man that, if your kids were under his care, would probably teach them how to loot liquor stores, smoke dope, pee in back alleys and sneak into "R" rated movies. And those are only his lessons for kids under the age of 10.

The movie has a heart, yes, but not a very big one. Sandler plays Sonny Koufax, a selfish unethical loser who has just won $200,000 in a settlement involving his foot and the wheel of a Taxi cab. He lives in a large apartment with his roommate Kevin Gerrity (Jon Stewart), which is in turn often occupied by Kevin's nagging girlfriend Vanessa. It isn't until Kevin is out of town when we learn that he has a love child named Julian. One day, he winds up on his father's doorstep, only to fall into the hands of Sonny, who in turn takes him to the park so he can throw sticks in front of roller-bladers, and dangle spit from his mouth and suck it back in without it ever touching the ground.

So what happens when Sonny tries to turn Julian over to social services? Oh, they're on holiday leave, of course. This gives Mr. Koufax the opportunity to care for the little tike like a father, since, after all, his real daddy won't be back for months. Alas, if only the services knew that this lazy bum was taking care of such an innocent kid when they turned him away....

Then the script becomes all generic, giving us the obvious bonding situations between Sonny and Julian. We're supposed to believe that, even though Sonny is mean-spirited and filled with lunacy, he would make a good father to this little kid. At this point, we're asked the determining question: should Sandler pretend to be the child's dad when social services arrive up on his door, or should he do the right think and let the boy go free? Of course you know the answer.

The movie has many faults and miscalculations, but it is also not without high points. The filmmakers have assembled a nice ensemble cast consisting of Joey Lauren Adams, Leslie Mann and Steve Buscemi, whereas they play characters who are significantly opposite from the creepy Sonny. Sometimes all a bad movie need is characters to bring lucidity into the vile plot. Unlike Sandler's previous efforts, there's charm and wisdom found in much of the supporting cast. Even the two little twins who play Julian come off effective, even though they take after their surrogate guardian a little too often.

But Sandler has not yet proven he is worthy of screen time. If only he was offered a serious, more intellectual role, rather than all of these ludicrous dorks with the morals of fungus and the intelligence of vapor rub. He is at that part of his career when he has earned the appreciation of some audiences (although I'm not part of them), and must further his career by taking different approaches for his characters. Like Jim Carrey and Will Smith, his whole appeal is solely based on box office figures, rather than sophisticated roles that give him reason to be an actor. Will that change? I hope so. If Jim Carrey can do "The Truman Show," whose to say Adam Sandler cannot find something just as respectable?

When it comes to parenting, "Bid Daddy" is that example of what not to do when raising a kid. It would be good for parents to see, just so they know what could happen if they take the wrong steps. One request, though: leave the kids home, unless you want them to have those warped, disturbing qualities right from the beginning.


1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
 
 
           
     
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