Big Daddy (1999)
Main Cast: Adam Sandler (Sonny Koufax), Joey Lauren Adams (Layla), Cole and Dylan Sprouse (Julian).
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, BD falls flat on its face.

Make no mistake, I'm an Adam Sandler fan and proud of it. I actually had a wonderful time watching him as a foul-mouthed golfer in Happy Gilmore. Billy Madison was goofy, and I am probably the only person in Singapore/Malaysia to think Bulletproof a superb movie. Then there's that wonderfully romantic movie The Wedding Singer - my, it turned Adam into an acceptable romantic hero. He was likeable 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 (her scene in her wedding dress, crying happily into the mirror as she imagined herself Robbie's wife... that's simply beautifully done). In BD it is obvious Adam is trying to branch out into a more romantic, dramatic figure. But he's no Drew Barrymore. His emotional expression, already limited, isn't even stretched in BD. After thirty minutes I could see the movie wasn't sure it wanted to be The Wedding Singer 2 or Happier Gilmore. It ended up uneasily in-between.

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 was 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 spent his days lazing around and working in a toll-booth whenever he felt 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 found himself caring for Julian, his house-mate's illegitimate child. Here was where BD tried to milk the laughs. Sonny taught Julian that if they didn't let you use the bathroom, you should pee-pee on their door instead. Watching old folks stumbling and hurting themselves was funny. Scary! Most of the time my blood ran too cold for me to laugh. As a mother, I could not accept these anti-social behavior. Pity Julian, I thought, he'd end up an anti-social druggie school drop-out.

Then Layla came into the picture and things livened up a bit. Sonny thawed a little, courting Layla in a manner I found irresistable and rather shameless (exploiting a kid's charm, for shame!). Sonny became more human, even sweet. Until I realized Joey Lauren Adams wouldn't stop smiling. She smiled when she met Adam, she smiled at the date, she smiled when they say goodbye, she just wouldn't stop smiling! It became very eerie to see her perpetual smileyness and those white perfect teeth. Layla became scarier than Morticia Addams. What was wrong with her? And a naughty part of my mind wondered if she would keep smiling if I walked up to her and squirt water from a water-pistol into her face. She was that annoying. She ruined whatever tender scenes she and Adam had in BD.

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'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 Adam should stick to playing the underappreciated, oppressed talented man who eventually triumphed over the masses. He's funnier and way better in those movies. If he wants to do a romantic/family drama, have him put Drew Barrymore's agent on the top of the priority contact list.

Rating: 68

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