Courtesy Photo
** stars 95 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, June 25, 1999
Directed by Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart, Allen Covert, Rob Schneider, Leslie Mann, Kristy Swanson, Cole & Dylan Sprouse


As a rental, this movie is good for no one. Not a good beer and buddies movie - too sappy. Certainly not a good movie to watch with the kids. Nothing but step one in Sandler's attempt to pull off the Robin Williams/Jim Carrey cross-over, and not worth your time or trouble.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 11/2/99

Adam Sandler:
"The Waterboy" (1998)
"The Wedding Singer" (1998)

Joey Lauren Adams:
"Chasing Amy" (1997)

Jon Stewart:
"The Faculty" (1998)

Leslie Mann:
"George of the Jungle" (1997)

Rob Schneider:
"The Waterboy" (1998)
"Down Periscope" (1996)

Allen Covert:
"Never Been Kissed" (1999)
"The Waterboy" (1998)
"The Wedding Singer" (1998)

Formerly outrageous funnyman makes blatant play for respectability, chick flick demo

By Rob Blackwelder

Adam Sandler has gone soft and it just doesn't work. While he somehow managed to carry off his sweet, pathetic romantic lead character in "The Wedding Singer" last year, in "Big Daddy" he's taken it too far. The formerly outrageous Sandler has become the Sensitive Guy.

He's polite and politically correct toward two of his college buddies who turned gay and became a couple. He's accompanied everywhere he goes by a tender moments soundtrack copped from a General Foods International Coffees commercial. And get this -- he cries. Not for laughs, either. He cries and wants the audience to commiserate with his broken little heart. He wants us to like him.

Buddy, you're Adam Sandler, not Jimmy Stewart. Heck, you're not even Robin Williams, and he's no good at that sad clown crap, either.

In "Big Daddy," Sandler plays a law school dropout who adopts a kid left on his doorstep in order to win back his responsible, focused and future-minded girlfriend (Kristy Swanson) with a demonstration of his nesting instincts.

In the process he falls in love with the kid, a pug-nosed orphan with an adorable-by-design speech impediment, and uses him to meet a better babe (Joey Laruen Adams), a giggly, girly lawyer with a squeak-toy voice who in the end will accept him for the lazy, do-nothing, couch potato that he is -- which will, in turn, inspire him to take the bar and grow up.

Sure he's still mean to the girl's sister (Leslie Mann), teasing her about working her way through medical school as a Hooters waitress. Sure for amusement he teaches the kid to trip roller bladers in Central Park and how to hock and suck a killer lugie.

But "Big Daddy" is meticulously calculated to be Sandler's graduation vehicle. In it, he's the comically irresponsible father figure who keeps accidentally doing the right thing as the sappy incidental music swells. It's a blatant play for likability, respectable roles and the chick flick demographic. And what's worse, so much energy is spent getting the sensitivity balance just right that several gigantic plot holes get completely ignored.

Sandler is still playing the slovenly idiot savant. For the moment, that's his stock in trade. But he's lost his edge. The 1999 model Sandler is the kind of proud pig who learns the Sunday School lesson and turns his life around in the last act to win the girl. I'm sorry, but that's just not what I want from my Adam Sandler movie.


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