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"Big Daddy"

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Adam Sandler's new comedy is being touted as a step forward for him, which I find funnier than anything in the movie. A step forward from what? Big Daddy is more like a step backward -- into sappiness. This melange of The Kid and The Champ plus all the previous Sandler comedies continues the date-movie-friendly tone of The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy. Instead of appealing only to goony male adolescents, Sandler is broadening his base to include goony couples. He's playing Sonny, a law-school graduate living off the hefty damages he received when a car ran over his toe. (It's basically a sham disability.) Loafing in his New York loft when he isn't working part-time as a toll collector, Sonny ends up adopting a 5-year-old boy mistakenly sent to him for custody. Thinking the adoption will show off his sensitive-man side and reclaim his errant girlfriend, or attract a new one, he ends up as a funky single papa: The film's ubiquitous ads, which are representative of the entire movie, show him and the boy urinating against the side of a building. (I prefer the Dr. Evil-Mini-Me knockoff of this ad for The Spy Who Shagged Me.) In a way, Sandler is trying to do to the audience what Sonny is attempting with his girlfriend: He's pimping pathos to win our hearts. But Sandler being Chaplinesque isn't pretty; he's just doing his smart-aleck slacker shtick with a moister eye.


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