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Moriarty Reviews Herlihy/Brill Script for Adam Sandler's DEEDS!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

100 to 86? Hahahahahaha... pardon me. I really shouldn't.... HAHAHAHAHAHA... okay. I'm better. Really. It's not even funny. I don't know why I'm laughing. I mean, the Lakers reamed them but... HAHAHAHAHA...

Okay, seriously. I'm better. No fooling. I'm just feeling like a bit of a thug right now after having spent the afternoon watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals and reading the script for Adam Sandler's new film DEEDS. This isn't the Paul Thomas Anderson film, keep in mind. That one's still successfully under wraps. No, this is the movie he's actually shooting at the moment, his next real "Adam Sandler" movie.

He's got a franchise going right now that's as particular as the James Bond films or the HALLOWEEN movies. In order for it to be a "real" Adam Sandler film, Tim Herlihy has to write it. Fans of these films expect Sandler to play Sandler, and there's a couple of different incarnations of that. I'd say the most successful version of Sandler so far, and the funniest, were in THE WEDDING SINGER and HAPPY GILMORE. If you agree with that assessment, get ready to rejoice, because DEEDS reads like a successful merging of those two films, and it's actually very funny on the page.

The January 23, 2001 revision of DEEDS by Tim Herlihy & Steven Brill is a nice change of pace following LITTLE NICKY, also co-written by these two. FOr one thing, it's pretty hard to screw up the basic story of MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, the 1936 comedy gem written by the great Robert Riskin and directed by Frank Capra. It's an optimistic, big-hearted movie with a great performance by Gary Cooper opposite the equally great Jean Arthur. Have I mentioned it's great? It's been remade once officially as a Monte Markham TV series in the late '60s, and once unofficially as the Coens candy-coated Frank Lloyd Wright love letter THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, and Sandler's version is playing down its identity as a "remake," even though the fact that it's hung on a classic structure is one of its strengths.

Basically, every version of DEEDS is the story of a naive innocent who comes to the big city and, though circumstance, is put in a position of great authority, only to be betrayed by the media which paints his decency as a deficiency, making him out to be a jackass. In the end, the woman who set him up for the ridicule falls in love with him and they save his name and the business and fall in love. Simple stuff, and it's in the variations that the different versions distinguish themselves. Capra's film is vintage Capra fare, with a sweet surface hiding a knowing dissection of the cynicism of the media. HUDSUCKER is silly, but knowingly silly, and its leaps of logic into fairy tale territory are the closest the Coens come to lowbrow.

In Sandler's new take, he plays Longfellow Deeds, a small town pizza parlor owner who also writes and sells greeting card poetry on the side. He's ridiculously well-adjusted, a normal guy who should provide a nice role for Sandler away from the feeble-minded moron comedy of THE WATERBOY and LITTLE NICKY. I never like him in those roles. It's too annoying for the full length of a film. This is Sandler the way he really seems to be. He's a key member of the community of Mandrake Falls, and he's perfectly happy with his life.

In fact, when Peter Blake dies, Deeds doesn't have any reason to even care. He doesn't know Blake is his long lost great uncle. In fact, no one knows at first. Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher) is Blake's second in command at the giant media conglomerate that Blake built, and he is the bad guy of the film. He's the one who goes and finds Deeds, the only living heir to the Blake fortune, and brings him to New York in an effort to quickly gain control of the $40 billion estate Deeds inherits. Cobb and Anderson are Cedar's lackeys, and I think these are the roles being played by Peter Dante and Allen Covert, Sandler's longtime friends and costars. I know Steve Buscemi and Jared Harris are also both in the film, and there are a number of supporting roles they'd be right for. When they all converge on Mandrake Falls to introduce themselves to Deeds, he is totally unimpressed by them or their money. He only agrees to go because he learns that Blake was family, and he considers it the right thing to do. At no point does the $40 billion even interest him.

One of the things that made me laugh hardest in HAPPY GILMORE was when Happy would just beat the shit out of someone. I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for thug comedy. SLAP SHOT hits me in the same happy place, and so does JACKASS on MTV. There's plenty of it in DEEDS, as he's really polite until someone crosses the line, at which point he's more than happy to hand them a beat down. Even on the page, it makes me laugh, so I imagine it'll work just fine in the theater. Sandler does this stuff well.

As in both MR. DEEDS and HUDSUCKER, it's a female reporter who brings the blessed idiot down. This time, it's Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder), a segment producer for INSIDE ACCESS, a sleazy tabloid show. Her producer Mac McGrath (John Turturro) is about to renegotiate Babe's contract, and she's been coasting on fumes for a while. She has no choice but to go for the jugular with Deeds, and he gives her plenty of ammo to use against him. There's a drunken night out with Keith Richards that will be hysterical if they actually get Richards to shoot his part. Deeds is so matter of fact about his decency that Babe is sure it's an act. She poses as "Pam Dawson," a school nurse from Winchesterfield, OH, a town name she makes up on the spur of the moment. The web of lies she spins about her childhood comes back to haunt her in a very funny scene when Deeds takes her home to Winchesterfield, OH, for a surprise on one of their dates. In spite of herself, Babe finds that she is drawn to Deeds, and that she believes him. It's a solid comic role for Ryder, who needs to reconnect with the audience right now. It's been too long since we were allowed to like her on film. LOST SOULS and GIRL INTERRUPTED are both so grim, so stolid, that it feels like it's been forever since Ryder smiled on film. One of the reasons for THE WEDDING SINGER's success was the enormous charm that Drew Barrymore projected, and Sandler needs Winona to deliver the same kind of appeal here for this film to work.

I am dying to know if they shot the sequences with the actor indicated in the script as Peter Blake, the great-uncle whose freezing death while climbing Mount Everest kicks everything into motion. If so, I hope they keep it and use it. It would be a really cool (pun intended) last appearance by the now-deceased legend, especially if they go through with the plan of using his son to play him in flashbacks as a younger man. If they didn't have a chance to shoot the scenes, good luck finding someone who will pay off with the same comic impact. Since I'm not going to name the actor indicated in the script, feel free to guess below. I want to keep it a secret for now, since they haven't announced anything in the press about his involvement, and they may be trying to preserve some element of surprise.

In the end, I'd have to say this is one I'm looking forward to now. It's not going to supplant the original, and I don't think they're trying to. Instead, it gives Adam Sandler something timeless to hang his very modern sensibilites on, and it should be a confident comic romp that allows him to further hone the formula that's been so successful in the past. And when something works as well as this formula has (for the most part), minor fine-tuning may be the most we can ask.

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 14, 2001, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Who's the old guy?

    by dp4m

    That's supposed to be playing Blake? He's a legend and he's not mentioned?

  • June 14, 2001, 4 a.m. CST

    Happy Gilmore

    by Imokliel

    Is the only Adam Sandler movie to stay consistently amusing throughout. Wedding Singer had its moments and the rest of his movies are godawful. Here's to hoping he gets his act together.

  • June 14, 2001, 4:34 a.m. CST


    by JChasse677

    Anthony Quinn?

  • June 14, 2001, 4:43 a.m. CST

    Adam Sandler uses scripts?

    by cds

    No way.

  • June 14, 2001, 4:52 a.m. CST

    The Coen take on Hudsucker vs. The Sandler take on Hudsucker...

    by Fitzy Funk

    If you have to seriously consider the above statement, you should no longer consider yourself a true film fan. Sandler bloowwwss.

  • June 14, 2001, 4:54 a.m. CST


    by AndyGinner

    Words of encouragement to Winona: Let us like you in this movie. You can do eeeeet!

  • June 14, 2001, 5:03 a.m. CST

    Funny how?...

    by vertigo93

    Can someone explain to me just what is funny abot Adam Sandler. Cos' I gotta be honest with you here, I've never even smirked at one thing he's done, and believe me, I've given it enough tries - The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, Little Nicky... All films I've watched after people told me how damn good they are, all films that have made me think Sandler doesn't ahve a comedy bone in his body. Still, hats off to him - he's convinced Hollywood he's worth a lot of $$$.

  • June 14, 2001, 5:10 a.m. CST

    I have to agree with Mori on this...

    by Imokliel

    I love watching him snap and beat people down. Thats's what made Happy Gilmore what it was. Other than that Sandler doesn't really do it for me. Hopefully this movie will actually be funny, but after his last 3 or 4 movies I'm kind of skeptical.

  • June 14, 2001, 5:24 a.m. CST


    by dexter cornell

    Bulletproof, I love that movie. Welcome back Adam! He needs something big to get over that damn Little Nicky bullshit, GOOOOOOOOO ADAM

  • June 14, 2001, 5:51 a.m. CST

    You're gonna DIE, CLOWN!!

    by Acid_Rain327

    Man, some of the happies memories I have with childhood friends is sitting up late at night, watching Happy Gilmore. Sure, the film is a lot funnier when you're twelve, but still - anything that hints at being worth rounding up the same group of friends (albeit larger, and surprisingly less mature than before) and heading out to the local theater, has got my $7.50.

  • June 14, 2001, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Stop looking at me, swan.

    by scudd

    I will appeal to both sides with this. I can definitely understand why many people dont find Adam Sandler funny. His humour can be adolescent and sophmoric more times than not. His movies only have a plot to move the jokes along, and he wont be appearing in the film adaption of Crime and Punishment anytime soon. But I think his movies are hilarious. In his films (except for Little Nicky...that just sucked), things happen for no apparent reason or rhyme. Random events occur that just make think "What the hell?" and then laugh your ass off. Remember the black maid from Billy Madison? The clown who got a hemmorage? The fist fight with Bob Barker? This stuff isnt going to change the world, but I think its great to just loosen up and enjoy it. But like I said, it isnt for everyone.

  • June 14, 2001, 8:21 a.m. CST

    Hudsucker Proxy and Deeds

    by TheDanShadow

    Hudsucker Proxy had intentional laspes of logic, as it was a parody of Capra films, and films of that time and style in general. Not simply a remake of Mr. Deeds. Would the Cohn bros. ever do anything as simple as that? I hope Deeds is good. Ryder needs a hit, and Sandler needs to get past stupid accents and retarded characters. I think Waterboy pretty much dried up that well. Big Daddy was a step in the right direction...sort of. Can't wait for the new PTA movie!

  • June 14, 2001, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Walter Mathau?

    by gamarra

    Is the only good guess I have. he was brilliantly funny, and certainly would be one of the few people that I can think of that would make freezing to death on a mountain funny.

  • June 14, 2001, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Adam Sandler can kick Kobe's ass!

    by Dingo

    Yes, I know. I used that subject line before (for Robin Williams), but it's just damn funny. And think of the possibilities...Buffy can kick Kobe's ass, Spiderman can kick Kobe's ass, Moriarty can kick...well, you get the point. I like Sandler, to a point...I thought Big Daddy was disappointing, but in a good way. This sounds good, especcially after the Little Nicky fiasco. I haven't even seen it, and damned if I'm going to pay the price for a rental, let alone $7.50, for a movie that looks terrible from the get-go (and it was such a good premise for Adam, too. Why, Adam?), and everyone says it sucks, too. The original Mr. Deeds (Deeds can kick Kobe's ass) is a classic, and I know Adam can pull this off. We're rooting for you.

  • June 14, 2001, 8:58 a.m. CST

    The though of Sandler remaking Deeds brings a tear to my eye

    by the_pissboy1

    It's too unsettling for words. Cooper as played by Sandler!!! Argh.

  • June 14, 2001, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Kobe can kick dingo!'s ass

    by Dingo

    HA! BEAT YOU TO IT! Seriously, though, he can. I'm a wimp.

  • June 14, 2001, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Guess The Secret Star?

    by One Punch Mickey

    ... and the set of stake knives goes to the person who guessed... ANTHONY QUINN!!! Congradulation and now a word from our sponsor.

  • June 14, 2001, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Sandler, Sandler, Sandler

    by Max Fisher Playr

    I don't know about this one. Seeing Sandler do something that the Coens already did can't be a good sign. On the other hand, I think that Sandler actually could act if he wanted to, and has had small moments in his other films where he actually does, but they are so few and far between we don't really notice them. I'm more interested in the film he made with Paul Thomas Anderson than this one. Anybody got any information on that one? It is still The Denise Show right?

  • June 14, 2001, 10:37 a.m. CST


    by Mr. Biege

    Face It. Sandler sucks. He's on par with Martin Lawrence when it comes to performing. It's the saddest kind of comedy to watch, where in your mind you can see what they thought was supposed to be funny, but it just falls so flat it's sad and pathetic. And you'd feel bad for them, if it wasn't for all that money they were making off this horseshit... Sandler's entire career peaked when he played Theo's white friend on The Cosby Show. It's all been down hill from there.

  • June 14, 2001, 10:53 a.m. CST

    What have you ever done.

    by nickygoose

    While it was nice to see Moriarty actually write something good about Adam Sandler, he missed the mark on a few things. The script he read was obviously a very early draft. The character of Cobb is not in the version that was filmed. John Turturro plays the part of Emilio and Jared Harris plays the part of Mac.Besides that the comments that are made by the people on this board are a source of great amusement to me.The person who said that Sandler has somehow convinced the movie industry that he is worth big bucks is a moron. Maybe it"s the 3/4 of a billion dollars in revenue that his movies have made that convinced them. And the idiot who said Little Nicky was a peice of crap then admitted he hadn"t seen it is a great example of being one of those hipper than thou a**holes whose movie making experience probably involves video taping himself masturbating. Quit talking about everyone elses work, log offline and go make a comedy if you"re so good at it.

  • June 14, 2001, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Gawd....I hate the Lakers....

    by Ashtray

    With a buring passion do I loathe the Lakers and their uninspired, Johnny Come Lately fans. Everything about that town when it's "Showtime" makes me want to vomit. I even loathe to hear film news because I can expect some mention of the most contrived, league aided, poorly officiated, ego driven franchise in the history of the game. I realize this has no place on an Adam Sandler talkback, but some of us film fans do play the sport and follow it rigorously...and Moriarty just wouldn't let it die, would he? Just had to pimp his favorite heartless, corporate product...the Lakers are the NBA's answer to every Bay/Bruckheimer or Demmrich success. Hollow, tons of money thrown into marketing hype and payoffs, style over substance, and a television market and owner who can satisfy the amazing forethought of a great GM. Someone else had an idea and there was enough money around to buy it up and make it the biggest kid on the block. Yes, I am bitter.

  • June 14, 2001, 1:28 p.m. CST

    To Dingo and Ashtray, from The Big Genie and the World's finest

    by Fredo'sbrainfood

    All of your championships are belong to us.

  • June 14, 2001, 1:43 p.m. CST

    I don't have a problem with the Lakers...

    by Dingo

    ...It's just the parts of the sum I have problems with.

  • June 14, 2001, 6:21 p.m. CST

    What kind of cast is this?

    by Kagero

    Peter Gallagher, Winona Ryder, John Turturro (a Coen staple, btw), and ... Adam Sandler. OK I'm missing something. But whatever it is, I'm curious about it.

  • June 14, 2001, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Ahh... Sports, the only thing as fun to argue about as film.

    by marvelousmark1

    Way to go out on a limb for the Lakers there Moriarity.... that really takes some balls. I mean they were only favored by like a billion to one, so it must be really fulfilling for you to see them win. As a Philadelphia 76ers fan (for my whole life mind you) and citizen of Philadelphia I can only equate the numerous amounts of said "jonny late comers" to the fact that Philly plays an exciting game of basketball and they play with their whole hearts. The Sixers are the Mighty Ducks, The Rocky's, The Hoosiers. The underdogs you cant help but route for. And although I never expected them to beat the Lakers, especially not as beat up as the Sixers have been lately (they've got enough crutches out there to build a second bench, not making excuses). Just like Rocky... the sixers didnt win, but they turned around what was meant to be a disaster year into an Eastern Conference championship, and they ended the Lakers playoff winning streak. They went the distance just like Rocky wanted to, and any Sixers fan should be proud to stick with them. As for Lakers fan's - what a bunch of heartless fans over there... those people dont get rowdy for games, they sip tea and come and go in their limos. I dont understand whats so wonderful about winning if its all but pre-determined. Fact is there arent any other real strong teams at the moment, and LA is gona win, Simple as that. I mean... you got Shaquille "My grandmother could score 30 points a game if she was 7'2" and 300+ something lbs" O'neal. Ohhh... big surprise, Shaq scored again, thats really tremendous. Yet, he's so good that he cant even shoot a free throw... fuckin ridicolous. To the idiot above, I would only like to discredit your ridicolous 'consperiecy theories'. Your already a Laker fan buddy... your team's gona win... Why you gota take something away from Philly?? Philly was hands down the best team in the East. They beat the Bucks in game 7... and yah... if that series was handed to them by the league, explain why we beat Milwaukee by thirty in the last game. And as for Philly's "fluke" game one performance. I sorta recall Kobe "wow - im really smart cuz i can speak Italian... not mentioning i was raised in Italy" Bryant fumbling with the ball with a few seconds left and the game on the line. The ball dribbled off of his foot and rolled outta bounds. The refs didnt give that game to Philly... the Lakers did. Philly missed clutch free throws at the end even... and LA just couldn't win it. SO get off my Sixers man... go ahead and route for the favorite... but dont discredit everything Philly has done all year long... You won your championship... dont be a poor winner like your big buddy "just call me big Aristotle" Shaq... what a tool. Long live the underdog.

  • June 14, 2001, 7:33 p.m. CST

    Who's the actor?

    by BatGuano

    A legendary actor with a actor son? hmmmmmmm.....I say it's either Lloyd Bridges son, with Beau or Jeff to play him in his youth, Or Kurt Douglas and Michael Douglas....but it seems like both of them died too long ago to have anything to do with this flick. And I don't know how much I would respect any legend for taking a role in a Sandler excretion....Carry on

  • June 14, 2001, 11:02 p.m. CST


    by MCVamp

    I think the real question is can Tim Herlihy write a good movie without Adam Sandler in a starring role? All of his protagonists, varying intelligence level aside, are pretty much the same: A well-meaning but misfiring goofball. Oh well, Jerry Lewis probably had the same writer on a bunch of his stuff too. BTW, Regarding the guy who said Shaq's only dominant because he's 7-2 and 300+ pounds? Hey, Arvidas Sabonis is about the same height and weight, and he's nothing compared to SuperShaq. The Sixers gave it a nice run, but give credit where credit is due... the Lakers are not a "one-hit wonder." And about Laker fans taking limos to games? Fuck you, I know six season ticket holders, and the nicest car any of them drives is a five-year-old SUV (license plate: "SHAQ 34." The only reason L.A. REALLY attracts so many celebrities is because of where it is. If Milwaukee was the movie capital of the world, I bet everyone would be wrongfully bitching about how Bucks fans were a bunch of bandwaggoners with no loyalty. (But I guess celebrities aren't allowed to like basketball anyway. They aren't really human, right?) There's the rest of the league, and then there's L.A. when it comes to fans. Ain't no hater like an L.A. hater, because an L.A. hater doesn't even need logic to bash So. Cal, they just do... because we're here, and we're a nice, easy target. Oh well... "WE LOVE IT, WE LOVE IT, WE LOVE IT!!! WE LOVE L.A.!!!"-- Randy Newman

  • June 14, 2001, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Moriarty missed the boat..

    by WolffmanJack

    I can't believe he thinks the wedding singer and Happy GIlmore are Sandler's best. Need I say more than Billy Madison. Yes it's lowbrow and I'm sure some people can't even admit they enjoyed it. I'm not one of them. Billy Madison is truly one of my favorite comedic movies of all time. I've watched it hundreds of times and it loses nothing through repeated watchings. "It's too hot for a penguin to just be walking around here." Just keep that in mind. Peace Out

  • June 14, 2001, 11:35 p.m. CST


    by BatGuano

    I fucked up. First, My Grey Goose vodka-induced state caused me to stupidly refer to Kirk Douglas as "Kurt"--whoa, so sorry. Second, and thanx to Max Fisher Plyr for pointing out this very relevant fact: Kirk is not dead yet. I am sorry for these faux pas. What can I say, I am not Spartacus.

  • June 15, 2001, 10:47 a.m. CST


    by marvelousmark1

    For your information buddy... Shaq has 25 lbs on Arvadis... and about ten years of youth on the guy. (Sabonis is 37 or 38.) If your looking for a good comparison of sheer physical power in the NBA, lets look back to Wilt Chamberlain. Now there was an athlete. Not quite as big as Shaq, but he sure woulda lit the big guy up if they ever played. Probably the only guy at that size who was bigger and stronger than Shaq is. The guy held the Pennsylvania high school state 100 Meter dash record for years. My point being, there was a man who wasnt even as big as Shaq but made better use of his size, and actually had some talent. You cant even compare Shaq to an old chubby white guy like Sabonis... give me a break. Most NBA centers are dwarfed by Shaq. He's a great player he really is. But I find it a little more impressive when a 6'0' 160 lbs guard can drop in 30 points a game and lead a team to the NBA finals.... than when some luggish freak of nature (coached by Phil Jackson and playing along side of Kobe Bryant) does the same. ALso, if Shaq were really so talented he could have a higher free throw percentage than 50%. The only baskets the guy can score are when he drops it in the basket, or Dunks it, simple proof that he has little talent, and just an incredible physique. How many 6'0" tall, 160 lbs guys do you know? thats practically average size... and how many 7' 2" 320 lb guys do you know? yah... One. Shaq was born into his role as a great player... but guys like Iverson have fought their entire lives to be as talented as they are. If Shaq is really so great how come that cat didnt win MVP? who won the MVP again? I apologize for the sports talk. Thats pretty sweet that Adam Sandler is TRYING to redeem his film career. I was starting to notice how each of his films seems to get more and more mindless as of late, Little Nicky possibly being the worst movie I have ever had to endure. I hope he gets back to the days of Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, and i can't wait for the PTA film... I think Anderson can make Sandler look great.

  • June 15, 2001, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Goddamn that LA bashing pisses me off!

    by Fredo'sbrainfood

    Representing one of the SEVERAL MILLION middle class family born and raised in LA who aren't the stereotypical shallow fucks that pissants like you assume we are. Fact is, most of them moved here from other shitholes and give us a bad rap. As for the Laker love, how could anyone comment on the lack of hometown pride unless you've been here to see us follow the Lakers. Every single one of my friends and family have religiously watched them since I've remembered. The success of the new team has intensified that following, but the same could be said for the dormant 76ers until Larry Brown and Allen Iverson. And lay off Shaq, who has made more crunchtime free throws this series than the bricks AI threw up when they mattered. "Who's the MVP, who isn't?" That's just plain ignorance. Both are physical marvels and both should be given props. Shaq swept the player awards last year and this year he'll take the one that really matters in the end-the finals MVP to go along with the Larry O'Brien. And for all AI's skills--I've long respected the man--he's actually lost some of my respect by his constant complaining this series and HUGE chip on his shoulder. NOT ONE player on the Laker team said this was going to be a breeze series. That was the invention of the media and the ignorants. The Lakers came in and did what they had to do,the Sixers simply didn't. Didn't they lead the league almost all year with the best record? Didn't they sweep the individual awards? The Lakers are the ones who struggled as a team in the mad crazy West and rose above teams that could have all easily been in the finals. They've played their hearts out as much as the sixers, but just done it better. How about giving them some respect?

  • June 15, 2001, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Get back to work, Goosen!

    by brianfellow

    ...and memo to Monterey Jack. There has never been a fart joke in any of Sandler's movies. Not one.

  • June 18, 2001, 2:10 p.m. CST

    guess the star!

    by weezypotamkin

    My guess is Lloyd Bridges.