4 August 2006 | bob the moo
An insincere, cloying, basic and pointless remake
When 82 year old business magnate Preston Blake dies while attempting to scale Everest, he leaves behind billions of dollars in shares, ownership of his media empire but no family and no will. Investigations reveal he has a nephew (Longfellow Deeds) who, by default, will inherit the lot. Chuck Cedar and Cecil Anderson set out to be the first to bring Deeds back to New York to get him to sign the company over to them and the board. Deeds is perhaps a bit out of his depth but determined to keep his small town roots and morals even as company execs and media vultures try to take advantage of him.
If you are making a feel good film and have a script that relies on you feeling for the little guy then it is probably a bit of a risk to cast Adam Sadler in the lead role considering how he tends to, well, polarise opinion in his audience. Not to put too fine a point on it but I'm not a massive Sadler fan and for me the establishing scenes where he is laid out as a regular nice guy fell flat because he comes over like an annoying and unconvincing person. The point is he has a heart of gold and doesn't go for all that big city business, insincerity and intelligence stuff. As he sees New York his adventure is a collection of scenes with him dispensing small town wisdom, slapping people who step out of line, getting drunk and so on. It is very basic stuff and sadly it says a lot about the audience that the makers were aiming for, or rather what the makers thing of us they think that we think that "good" people are just working Joe's who get drunk, smoke, egging cars and so on and look down on society types. As a result of aiming for this low level, the film is as basic as you like and although it is occasionally amusing it is terribly insincere from start to finish. Those who cannot see the narrative arch from about the first two minutes well, I suppose you are the people that the film is aimed at (no offence).
I didn't really expect any better from this but I was still quite bothered by how simplistic, insincere and inane the whole thing is. Sadler matches the film by producing all the same characteristics in his performance. The people who love his dumb "man-child" stuff will love him here but understandably the majority of viewers will find him annoying and grating. He is well supported by all sorts of people who are served by the material in a variety of ways. Turturro is excellent and sneaks his way into stealing every scene he is in. Ryder is basic but appealing. Covert, Gallagher, Harris and Avari all draw the odd laugh but generally are just mugging their way through.
Overall this is a very basic comedy that drew maybe two laughs from me and constantly aims for the lowest common denominator in terms of comedy and settles for cloying insincerity in place of a plot. It is dumb stuff that assumes that you and I (the viewers) are dumb too. If you can get past that offence then there sadly isn't a lot of fun or laughter to be had anyway. A pointless remake of a much better film.