Main cast: Adam Sandler (Sonny Koufax), Joey Lauren Adams (Layla), Cole and Dylan Sprouse (Julian), Jon Stewart (Kevin Gerrity), Leslie Mann (Corinne Maloney), and Rob Schneider (Nazo)
Director: Dennis Dugan
When the father figure in question is named Sonny, and the son is Julian, I should’ve taken that as a sign and run. No, I take that back. Big Daddy is mildly enjoyable, interspersed with a few laughs here and there. As a comedy, it’s adequate. As a romantic comedy, or even a father-son comedy, it falls flat on its face.
I really liked The Wedding Singer – it turned Adam Sandler into an acceptable romantic hero. He was likable in that movie as a carefree wedding singer who just wanted a nice woman to love. But that show had Drew Barrymore to carry most of the emotional weight. Alas, here, there is no Drew Barrymore.
The story isn’t important. Just mainly Sonny getting dumped, finding a boy, raising him to be a little Sonny Coulfax, and finding love with his house-mate’s sister. Sonny Coulfax as a father creeped me. This man is a perpetual child stuck in a man’s body. After winning $200,000 in an accident suit, Sonny quit his job as a lawyer (Was he ever a lawyer? There was a mention of not passing the Bar. I wasn’t so sure really). He now spends his days lazing around and working in a toll-booth whenever he feels like it (don’t ask). His girlfriend dumped him because he was a going-nowhere, directionless, ambitionless loser. Next thing you know, by some silly turn of events, Sonny finds himself caring for Julian, his house-mate’s illegitimate child. Here is where Big Daddy tries to milk the laughs. Sonny teaches Julian that if they didn’t let you use the bathroom, you should pee on their door instead. Watching old folks stumbling and hurting themselves is funny. Poor Julian, he’d end up an anti-social druggie school drop-out.
Then Layla comes into the picture and things liven up a bit. Sonny thaws a little, courting Layla in a manner I found irresistible and rather shameless (exploiting a kid’s charm, for shame!). Sonny becomes more human, even sweet. Until I realize that Joey Lauren Adams wouldn’t stop smiling. She smiles when she meets Adam, she smiles at the date, she smiles when they say goodbye, she just won’t stop smiling!
Even more creepy though are the movie people’s attempts to repeat the The Wedding Singer formula. Steve Buscemi, ever reliable, made another cameo in this one. An ending where everyone cheered Adam Sandler’s characters on (actually, that occurred in all his movies, come to think of it), this time a court case so ridiculous, so juvenile, so… yucks that my brain, left at the door far far away almost had a meltdown.
Oh well, maybe Mr Sandler should stick to playing the underappreciated, oppressed talented man who eventually triumphed over the masses. He’s funnier that way. If he wants to do a romantic comedy, have him put Drew Barrymore’s agent on the top of the priority contact list.