Adam Sandler still shows up for a movie like Mr. Deeds looking as if he just rolled out of his trailer, wearing the T-shirt he happened to grab, barely even bothering to shave or go to makeup. Let other actors fuss over their wardrobes or worry about whether they’ve gained a few pounds: Sandler is Sandler, the people’s noble-slob comedian! ”Mr. Deeds” is one of those Sandler opuses, like ”The Wedding Singer” or ”Big Daddy,” in which he plays a bighearted, happily dysfunctional ”normal” guy – as opposed to, say, ”Little Nicky,” in which he pushed the comedy of quavery-voiced cretinism to its gimpy nadir and found, for the first time, that his fans started to head for the exits.
I’m not sure that ”Mr. Deeds” is going to win them back. The movie, an idiot variation on Frank Capra’s ”Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” might have been thrown together in even less time than it takes Sandler to get dressed in the morning; it feels sort of like the dumbest corporate comedy of 1987. As Longfellow Deeds, a small-town New England pizza delivery boy who inherits $40 billion (Gary Cooper’s Deeds inherited just $20 million – talk about inflation leading to diminished returns), Sandler coasts through the movie giving new blandness to the term ”regular Joe.” Every so often, he lets out his id by punching someone into the ground, ”Happy Gilmore”-style. Deeds, whose only ambition is to write Hallmark greeting cards, arrives in New York City, where assorted boardroom swells try to take advantage of him. But he’s such a good guy that their schemes just roll right off him. The jokes roll off him too. This is Sandler running on empty, repeating what he’s already done way too often, gazing with shaggy indifference upon Winona Ryder, who plays a winsome tabloid TV reporter. It’s time for the noble slob to shape up.