Mr. Deeds

What would you do with 40 billion dollars? Most of us would say that we would never work again, take care of our families, travel the world, and live the life of luxury complete with yachts, mansions, servants, fast cars and all the trappings of success.

In the film “Mr. Deeds” starring Adam Sandler, we get to meet a man with a different view of the world and wealth. The film is a remake of the classic “Mr. Deeds goes to town” and follows the originals premise of a simple man, made wealthy and forced to adapt amidst a world of false and shallow people who are motivated solely by money and status.

When media mogul dies leaving a fortune and no heir, a desperate search reveals Longfellow Deeds (Sandler), as the closest blood relative and inheritor of 40 billion dollars and controlling interest of the boardroom. This situation is unacceptable to the man running the show Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher), who wants to convince Deeds to sell his shares quickly leaving him in sole control of the company. With his trusty assistant Cecil in tow (Eric Avari), Cedar travels to New Hampshire to inform Deeds of the news and more importantly, get him back to New York to sell his shares quickly.

Deeds seems uninterested in the money, but boards the company helicopter for a trip to the big city to pay respects to his lost relative and to settle the legal matters. Deeds has a very easy going charm and practical manner that endear him to many very quickly and equally enrages Cedar in the process as he sees Deeds as a simple bumpkin who stands in the path of his desired goal of total control of the company. Deeds quickly befriends his valet Emilio (John Turturro) and gains the attention of an attractive school nurse Pam Dawson (Winona Ryder), who unbeknownst to Deeds is actually an tabloid journalist who is on assignment to get the story on this reluctant Billionaire. What follows is the natural fish out of water story as Deeds learns the stated goals of Cedar, the deception of Pam after he had fallen in love with her as well as the falseness of people in the big city who are polite only when it suits their interest. Deeds cares nothing for money as he is happy with his life of running the local pizza joint, and submitting his poems to greeting card companies in the hopes of one day having one published. He is not a person motivate by greed and corporate maneuvers, but is surprisingly astute and able to act with his heart as well as his head to resolve issues.

Sandler is charming in the role of the simple everyman, and his scenes with Turturro are funny, as the two seem to be having a blast working with one another. Gallagher is the stock villain and few should have little trouble figuring out where the film is going, as the conclusion is satisfying but predictable. I loved a scenes involving the echoes in the new home as it was a loving re-creation of the classic scene in the original, which was used in the Hayes Commission code days to imply the sexual preferences of certain staff members in an age when it was not allowed to do so. It not only shows a connection to the past but also helps to illustrate how society has changed regarding the display of content in films. This is not to say that this version will be the classic that the original was, rather it is to say that the filmmakers knew their source and paid the original film a respect that is often lacking in remakes. Ryder and Sandler Steel the scenes in which they are with one another as they have a very friendly and easy-going chemistry that shows the growing bond between Deeds and Dawson and provides the impetus for her eventual betrayal.

Sandler returns to the winning form he showed in “The Wedding Singer” and creates a film character that is loving and fun, and a film that is a great light summer distraction.

3.5 stars out of 5