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Big Daddy
1999 - PG-13 - 98 Mins.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Producer: Sidney Ganis
Written By: Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Rob Schneider, Jon Stewart, Steve Buscemi
Review by: John Ulmer

I'm smiling because I'm gonna make more money off of this movie than you'll ever make in your life.
The more Adam Sandler movies I watch, the more I dislike the guy. Admittedly, he never bugged me up until projects such as "The Waterboy," which seem to have scarred his earlier vehicles -- including "Big Daddy," a movie about a slacker who adopts a kid in order to prove his responsibility to his girlfriend. Predictable mayhem ensues.

Sonny Koufax (Sandler) is a loser sharing an apartment in New York City with Kevin (Jon Stewart from Comedy Central's "The Today Show), who has to visit China and is leaving the place under the care of Sonny for the week. But the first day of his departure, a small five-year-old kid named Julian (Cole and Dylan Sprouse) arrives at the front door with a note, a la Paddington Bear. Kevin appears to be the boy's father, so Sonny hatches a great plan: He'll take care of the boy until Kevin returns, and prove to his girlfriend that he is responsible by passing the kid off as his son.

Sonny is a graduate from law school, which is extremely hard to believe, considering how dumb he is. When Julian wets the bed, Sonny grabs some newspaper and lays it down over the sheets. "There 'ya go, dry sheets," he says, before leaving the room and retreating to his bedroom.

The image of a caring father-figure that Chaplin invented in "The Tramp" is rather modernized here. I think Chaplin is probably rolling about in his grave.

I'm not going to bash "Big Daddy" for teaching bad morals. After all, there's a reason it's PG-13, and any parent who lets their kids see this are just about as responsible as Sonny. Too many critics criticize films for inappropriate subject matter, despite their adult ratings. Example? There's a scene where Sonny is trying to "weed out" the bad kids at school -- despite the fact that they're mere kindergarteners. Sonny sits on a playhouse, circled by little kids, and says, "You know what else is good? Smoking dope!" It's a very funny scene to watch in context with the movie, but it could come off different to younger childrne. Don't let your kids see this movie.

There is a repetitive cameo in "Big Daddy" by Steve Buscemi as a wandering homeless man. Buscemi often pops up in Sandler's films, which is surprising, since they're in a completely different range of acting. I did notice, however, that two films Buscemi has appeared in support McDonald's -- there's a long gag about the morning breakfast cut-off in this movie, and John Travolta subtly bashed Burger King in "Pulp Fiction," which also co-starred Buscemi. Personally, I think Burger King is much better. But let's not get sidetracked...

The movie relies on Adam Sandler for its hits and misses. The problem is that he's not as enthusastic here as he was in "Happy Gilmore." It's one of Sandler's best comedies, which is sort of sad. I wish he'd make more films like "Punch-Drunk Love." He does have a bit of potential, and he was OK on "Saturday Night Live," but he's wasting his career by making these repetitive films that recycle the same characters and situations, with little twists at all.

Does the movie have laughs? Sure. But they're strongly overpowered by the misfires. "Big Daddy" is a movie to approach with caution, even as light entertainment.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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