Big Daddy
**** BM
Starring: Adam Sandler, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Joey Lauren Adams, Kristy Swanson, Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Leslie Mann


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Adam Sandler is getting closer to making a movie that won't require taking into account the fact that it is an Adam Sandler movie. He's not quite there yet, but Big Daddy is another step in The Wedding Singer's direction, and it's a good step.

Sandler plays Sonny Koufax, a former law student (only slightly hard to buy into) who hit big in a personal injury case and decides it's time to slack off and take a job at a tollbooth one day a week, while slobbing around the rest of the time. He's dating Kristy Swanson, who suddenly decides he's a loser. His roommate Kevin (Jon Stewart) is getting married and moving out, but while he's overseas, a kid is dropped off at their door. It's a kid Kevin never knew he had, but Sonny takes care of him for a while, and predictably falls for the kid and fights to get custody.

However, as is well known, surprising plot twists and compelling stories aren't what people go to Adam Sandler movies to see. The Waterboy had none of these... and wasn't even up to Sandler standards in comedy, but it went through the roof. Big Daddy has a a lot of heart in it, though, and the kid (played by twins, Cole and Dylan Sprouse) is unbelievably adorable. Always helps to have a genuinely cute kid (not the precocious, annoying type) to tug at the heartstrings.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly, because I went to see an Adam Sandler movie, and there was enough ridiculous humor and insane stuff to appease my appetite, but it is still an Adam Sandler movie. To become a geuninely good movie, it would still need a believable love story between Sonny and Lela (Joey Lauren Adams) and a bit more difficulty in getting the kid to stay in line (Scuba Steve would wear off shortly... most kids don't have that long of an attention span), but it's a comedy. It's funny, and that's all the audience really wants at this point.

Plus it has Jon Stewart, always a welcome and lovable presence in any film, even if he was underused here.

The dialogue seemed more realistic at times, the characters seemed more fleshed out than usual, and it was still funny enough to please the hardcore Billy Madison fans. Perhaps someday soon, we'll be able to go see one of his movies without having to preface comments about it with "Well, it's an Adam Sandler movie, but..." Maybe we won't have to take into account that it's designed to be a straight-up silly comedy and not a masterpiece of any kind. I'm looking forward to it, because I like Sandler at his stupidest, and I like him smart... and I'd like to see just how smart he can get.

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