, 20 Mar 2007
Longfellow Deeds (Sandler) is nice guy from a small town who suddenly inherits $40bn in shares in a media company. Arriving in New York he ha to deal with company executives (including Gallagher) trying to get his shares for themselves, a new girlfriend (Ryder) who is actually an undercover repoter and a strange Spanish butler (Turturro).
In 25 years I've done a lot of bad things, things I'm ashamed of, things I'd like to take back; but nothing that would merit a viewing of Mr Deeds as punishment. There aren't many people I'd wish to inflict this film on, I don't know anyone I dislike that much.
To my shame I've not yet seen the 1936 Gary Cooper / Jean Arthur starrer that Director Brill, writer Tim Herlihy and Sandler have here raped but I plan to rectify this as soon as possible, if only as pennance.
I suppose that, at some point, I'll have to actually address the excrement attempting to pass itself off as a film directly, but first let me tell you how i came to watch it. I'm a Winona Ryder fan, I have been for years (point of fact she was my first crush, when I was about 11) and her role in A Scanner Darkly recently reawakened my interest in her so when this seemingly innocuous dvd came into the charity shop I work in I borrowed it to view.
Mr Deeds takes the skeleton of the story of Frank Capra's Mr Deeds Goes To Town and decides that what Capra had been missing all those years was mind bogglingly unfunny jokes. One has to wonder who thought that a tune free singalong of David Bowie's Starman a: would be funny or b: belonged in this movie. That's not even the most egregious example; every single gag falls head-slappingy wide of the mark be it the running gag about echoy rooms (oh, stitch me up) or Deeds' unpleasent and unnessecary penchant for punching people.
The absence of quality does not extend merely to the screenplay. The parade of ineptitude continues with the acting. Sandler is heroically annoying as Deeds and can't even be bothered to give himself a consistent character; one minute he's the nicest guy in the world, the next he beats up a whole table full of people because they took the mickey out of him.
Winona Ryder, God love her, could be the greatest actress in the world and she'd still have fallen on her face with this character. She's instantly hateable as she's using our - cough - hero - for her own ends. Beyond that, though, the simpering character she's created as her cover is fingernails down the blackboard irritating. Of course she falls for Deeds and I challenge you to find a single FRAME where Ryder convincingly portrays even a mild interest in Sandler, let alone love.
This couple take up so much screentime that even if the rest of the cast weren't padded out with sub-standard scenery chewing from the likes of Jared Harris (staggeringly terrible as a sleazy journalist) and Allen Covert (in a one joke role that falls short by precisely one joke) Mr Deeds would be a putrid waste of celluloid.
Only John Turturro, as Deeds' eccentric butler, manages to emerge with a grain of credibility intact. He doesn't exactly get laughs, but I don't actually want him dead, which is definitely more than I can say for most of the cast and crew.
Steven Brill should already have been in movie jail for the earth shatteringly dismal Little Nicky but the fact that he has found work since this piece of filth makes me sad; another talent free hack with famous friends gets work while countless interesting directors can't get their films seen.
As if I hadn't made it abundantly clear; Mr Deeds is, even by the fantastically low standards I expected of it, quite monumentally awful. There should be action taken. Custodial sentences for all involved. Written apologies personally delivered to every viewer. The deepest pit in the world dug and all prints, tapes and dvds buried there.
Then, and only then, Frank Capra might just stop spinning.
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