Longfellow Longshot for Sandler
It seems so wrong to say that Adam Sandler's "Mr. Deeds" is a remake of "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" because they are very different movies despite using the same basic storyline and both being comedies. Frank Capra's "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" has old fashioned wit and charm whilst Sandler's "Mr. Deeds", well it has typical Sandler comedy with set piece gags just slightly toned down from his usual obnoxious sort of humour. And whilst this is by no means Adam Sandler at his best there is something quite charming about him toning down the loudness and playing basically a nice guy.
When Billionaire Preston Blake (Harve Presnell) dies the search for an heir to his fortune and company Blake Media starts and it leads to Mandrake Falls where they discover all round nice guy Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler - Big Daddy), Blake's closest relative. Taken to New York to sign a few papers everyone wants a bit of him especially the media with TV journalist Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder - Autumn in New York) duping Deeds and getting all the dirt on him. Except Deeds falls for Babe and she for him which makes things sticky. But also causing problems is Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher) the CEO of Blake Media who plans to cheat Deeds out of his shares in the company.
So at it's heart "Mr. Deeds" uses the same story as "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" so we have the naive Longfellow Deeds from Mandrake falls learning that he has inherited a fortune and heading to the big city where he becomes a target for unscrupulous journalists. It has of course been changed a bit with the likes of the unscrupulous journalist working for a trashy TV programme rather than a paper but the heart of the story remains the same. And to be honest the basic story does work in a modern setting, Tim Herlihy has done a nice job in updating Robert Riskin's original story.
But the big change, and to be honest it is not a surprise, is in the comedy styling and right from the opening where we witness Preston Blake frozen to the peak of Mount Everest you know this movie is going to be full of daft visual gags. You also know that with "Mr. Deeds" being an Adam Sandler movie there will be plenty of his buddies such as Allen Covert, Rob Schneider and Steve Buscemi in supporting roles, roles which see them playing the daftest of characters. But it is what you expect and so when we witness Sandler's Longfellow Deeds punch out a snob who mocks him it is exactly what you know is coming.
Yet whilst we do have plenty of typical Sandler style comedy it does feel toned down and that springs from Sandler playing a nice guy. Now some won't like this because many prefer Sandler when he is loud and obnoxious but the toned down Adam Sandler is quite enjoyable and it almost feels like with "Mr. Deeds" he was allowing others to have the majority share of the comedy whilst he just kept it simple. It is why when ever John Turturro shows up as man servant Emilio Lopez he steals ever scene with his sneaky sneaky humour. Even Allen Covert has a larger share of the laughs than normal and it does make "Mr. Deeds" more than just a vehicle for Adam Sandler.
The rest of the cast do just as good a job with Peter Gallagher and Erick Avari working well together as Chuck Cedar and Cecil Anderson. And then there is Winona Ryder as Babe Bennett and whilst Ryder is good as the deceptive Babe who actually falls for Longfellow I do wonder whether the part was intended for Drew Barrymore. Ryder's look to the cutesy romantic bits feels more in tune with what we saw Barrymore do with Sandler in "The Wedding Singer" and I just have this feeling that maybe Barrymore would have made "Mr. Deeds" that little bit sharper.
What this all boils down to is that "Mr. Deeds" is a fun movie and whilst technically a remake of "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" is a very different beast. It is also different to many Adam Sandler comedies because not only is the humour toned down but with Sandler playing a nice guy many of the big loud, laughs fall to the supporting cast especially John Turturro who steals every scene he is in.