[Screen It]


(1999) (Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams) (PG-13)

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Comedy: Hoping to impress his girlfriend and show that can be responsible, a carefree man abruptly adopts a five-year-old boy and must suddenly face the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
Sonny Koufax (ADAM SANDLER) is a 32-year-old law school graduate who doesn't practice law. Instead, he works one day a week as a tollbooth operator and lives a carefree life from a $200,000 wrongful injury settlement. His reluctance and/or inability to "grow up" not only infuriates his successful lawyer father (JOE BOLOGNA), but has also caused his girlfriend, Vanessa (KRISTY SWANSON), to break off their relationship.

Things go from bad to worse when five-year-old Julian (COLE & DYLAN SPROUSE) is deposited on his doorstep. The boy's father is apparently Sonny's roommate, Kevin (JON STEWART), but he's on a business trip to China after having just proposed to his girlfriend, Corinne (LESLIE MANN), a former Hooter's girl-turned doctor.

With the social services department closed for a holiday, Sonny figures he can watch the kid for a day. After they have such a good time together, however, and figuring that posing as a father will make Vanessa rethink her opinion of him, Sonny decides to lie to social worker Arthur Brooks (JOSH MOSTEL) and pose as the boy's father.

Not happy about the way his father raised him by trying to control every aspect of his life, Sonny decides he'll let Julian act and dress however he wants, with the two of them hanging out with Sonny's friend (ROB SCHNEIDER), an immigrant delivery man.

Although things don't work out with Vanessa, and learning that the boy will be sent to the equivalent of an orphanage, Sonny decides to continue caring for him. While doing so, he meets and falls for Layla Maloney (JOEY LAUREN ADAMS), another lawyer who just so happens to be Corinne's sister. As the two flirt with one another, Mr. Brooks discovers that Sonny isn't the boy's father. From that point on, Sonny does everything in his power to make sure Julian isn't taken from him.

If they're fans of Adam Sandler ("The Waterboy") it's a good bet (and the likely audience is male teens).
For language and some crude humor.
  • ADAM SANDLER plays a law school graduate who most would call a slacker. Working just one day at a week as tollbooth operator, he lives off money from an injury settlement and refuses or is incapable of growing up. When faced with the task of suddenly raising a child, he initially acts unconventionally (cursing in front of him, teaching him how to urinate in public, etc...), but eventually comes around and becomes a decent and caring father figure.
  • JOEY LAUREN ADAMS plays a busy lawyer who becomes attracted to Sonny.
  • COLE & DYLAN SPROUSE play the cute five-year-old boy whose shyness is eventually replaced by actions taught to him by Sonny such as cursing, urinating in public, causing in-line skaters to trip and fall, etc...
  • JON STEWART plays Sonny's roommate, a lawyer who unknowingly fathered Julian while drunk one night. Absent through most of the picture, he eventually returns and accepts responsibility.
  • LESLIE MANN plays Kevin's fiancÚ, a former Hooter's girl-turned doctor who's never liked Sonny.
  • ROB SCHNEIDER plays Sonny's best friend, an immigrant delivery man who's still learning English.


    OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
    When audiences first viewed Steve Martin as a wild and crazy guy, cavorting like King Tut or playing a banjo with a fake arrow through his head, did they think he'd ever go on to appear in critically acclaimed films such as "The Spanish Prisoner" or "Roxanne?"

    Or how about Robin Williams and his first role as Mork from Ork? He's since won an Oscar out of four nominations. Then there's Tom Hanks -- would anyone have imagined upon first seeing him dressed in drag so many years ago that the former star of "Bosom Buddies" would ultimately receive four Oscar nominations, let alone two victories for his subsequent work?

    Yes, most comedians who started with goofy shenanigans as their hook or act have come to the realization that they must eventually "grow up" if they wish to survive in Hollywood and continue acting. Those who don't are often soon abandoned by their audience who then begin looking for someone more age appropriate to fulfill their goofy behavior quotient.

    Comedian Adam Sandler appears to be at that transitional point in his career. While it's too early to tell whether he'll follow his predecessors and ever achieve Oscar greatness (before you scoff, don't forget Williams and Hanks' early material), this former "Saturday Night Live" regular, who turns thirty-three this year, has begun the change.

    While he still does the goofy "clown" bit -- such as in last year's surprise hit, "The Waterboy" -- his appearance in "The Wedding Singer" and his latest release, "Bid Daddy," clearly show that he's starting to make that transition to less juvenile roles. Although this film won't garner him any rave critical reviews for his thespian efforts, it's clear that Sandler sees the writing on the walls.

    Of course he's not yet ready to jettison his core audience -- teen and twenty-something males -- and this film has plenty of sophomoric and/or crude humor to more than appease them. Nonetheless, for all the urination-related jokes, there's just as much charm and decent romantic comedy material to entertain those who won't bust a gut over pee and vomit gags or seeing people wipe out while in-line skating.

    Yes, Sandler's playing it safe by offering equal doses of stupid and silly stuff with a more subdued and -- dare we say it? -- mature material. The combined effect, while not exactly what one would call congruous, does keep the hearty laughs and more subdued grins coming, and that's not such a bad thing.

    It's unfortunate, however, that the screenplay -- penned by Sandler along with screenwriters Tim Herlihy ("The Waterboy," "The Wedding Singer") and Steve Franks (making his writing debut) -- isn't more substantial or simply better than it is.

    As such, it's often rather disjointed and uses several music montages to "connect the dots" or act as filler (more than one occurrence of that per film is usually a sign of trouble and/or floundering) Fortunately, it does offer some laughs, however, and a decent one involves a running gag about newspapers being Sonny's chosen solution for dealing with most problems -- but most of the bigger laughs come from the juvenile bits that have made Sandler so popular with his fans over the years.

    That said, the script lacks any true cleverness (like the "Austin Power" films from fellow "SNL" alum Mike Myers) or an aggressive comedic bite (like "There's Something About Mary") to really make it stand out.

    It simply moves from point a to b, although often in a haphazard fashion, particularly as the conclusion draws near. As such, it really offers little more than a simple, "what you see is what you get" approach to storytelling and doesn't seem particularly concerned that the scenes are often more episodic than congruous in nature.

    While the basic plot is rather predictable and just a variation on the material found in "Mr. Mom" -- a guy suddenly having to deal with kids with no knowledge of how to do that -- it's Sandler's performance that lifts the picture above mediocrity. Notwithstanding our earlier statements, Sandler's acting abilities do seem to be somewhat limited -- here he does his "serious" and ready to shout at any moment character -- but his goofy charm more than makes up for any thespian deficiencies.

    This is particularly evident when he's doing the romantic comedy bit, an effort that worked quite well in "The Wedding Singer" playing off Drew Barrymore. His leading lady here is the gorgeous and vivacious Joey Lauren Adams ("Dazed and Confused") who easily was the highlight of "Chasing Amy."

    While her part here is much smaller, she's got that killer, room brightening smile that lights up the screen whenever she flashes it. As such, the scenes between her and Sandler are charming and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. In particular, the moment where their improvised bedtime story for the young boy turns into a flirtatious "can I asked you out/I'll have to think about" scene is clearly the film's best moment.

    As that five-year-old, twins Cole & Dylan Sprouse (TV's "Grace Under Fire") are appropriately cute. While they've perfected that sad and lost little boy demeanor, it's fortunately not irritating, but will certainly break your heart.

    The rest of the film's performances, including those from Jon Stewart ("The Faculty") and Leslie Mann ("George of the Jungle") are decent, but not particularly memorable, although there is a fun bit by Rob Schneider (another "SNL" alum) as Sonny's immigrant friend.

    Lightweight and fluffy stuff, the film has some fun moments and a few big laughs, but is instantly forgettable after seeing it. While the sentimental material never quite works and Sandler's big, concluding dramatic moment feels a bit too forced, his core audience of fans will probably enjoy this film as much as his past offerings. Although I didn't find it as entertaining as "The Wedding Singer" the film succeeds at generating enough laughs to earn a moderately passing grade. As such, "Big Daddy" gets a 5.5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated comedy. Profanity is moderate due to more than 10 uses of the "s" word, along with other profanities and colorful phrases. The film uses some scatological material as a basis for its comedy, and includes public urination (and a bed wetting scene), a vomit scene and another where a long string of mucous- heavy spit falls from a child's mouth before being sucked back up again.

    Those scenes and several others may prove to be imitative to some kids, particularly since they're played for -- and receive -- hearty laughs from the audience. Similarly, some viewers may not appreciate the protagonist cursing in front of a young boy and that boy then repeating some of those words, and some other behavior may rub certain viewers the wrong way.

    A few sexually related comments occur and several buxom women show cleavage and/or wear tightfitting clothes. Some drinking also occurs, and some references are made to being drunk as well as drug use, although none of the latter is seen.

    Beyond that, however, the remaining categories are relatively void of any major objectionable content. Since many kids will probably want to see this film -- especially if they're fans of Sandler who's now suddenly a big draw -- you may want to take a closer look at the listed content should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness.

  • People, including Sonny, have wine, beer and other drinks at a surprise party.
  • Kevin drinks a beer.
  • People have drinks in a bar and an old man appears to be a bit intoxicated.
  • A homeless man (played by Steve Buscemi) talks about "doing mushrooms."
  • After Layla jokingly says that Julian could be hanging out with the wrong kids who could be doing drugs, we then see Sonny at the playground with Julian and his friends. He then tries to bait them to admitting to doing drugs or using alcohol (played for laughs since they're also only five or six) by saying "smoking dope" is good and saying that the chocolate drink Yoo-hoo is good with "a little rum." Of course, the kids have no idea what he's talking about and satisfied that they're clean, Sonny then leaves.
  • People in a restaurant drink wine, and we then see that Sonny and Layla have a bottle on their table.
  • Sonny asks an old man on the witness stand in court if he's drunk and the man replies that he had a couple of chardonnays.
  • Sonny's father comments on the time he found a bag of pot in his son's underwear drawer and that Sonny thought it was pencil shavings.
  • Comments are made about Sonny not visiting a sick aunt, but instead going off to a beach and getting drunk, and about Kevin getting a woman pregnant while also drunk.
  • People have drinks at a Hooter's restaurant.
  • While none of the following is of the traditional blood and gore variety, the sight of the bodily function related material warrants the rating.
  • When wondering whether the boy wears diapers, Sonny aks Julian "Do you wipe your own ass?" and the boy nods that he does. Later, the boy repeats this line several times.
  • Julian reports that he wet the bed and we then see a huge urine stain on the sheets.
  • We see urine running down a wall on the street when Sonny and Julian urinate against it (after the boy has to go and they can't find a restroom). Later, as Sonny carries Julian, we see a wet urine stain on Sonny's sweatshirt. Even later, we see the boy's urine stream as he urinates on a tree outdoors and a plant in his classroom.
  • Julian suddenly vomits and we see it hit the floor.
  • Julian twice clears his throat and then lets a long string of thick spit/mucous fall from his mouth and then sucks it back in again before it hits the ground.
  • Some will probably see the way Sonny acts in front of Julian (cursing, etc...) and what he purposefully or indirectly teaches him to do (cursing, public urination, causing skaters to trip and fall, denting grocery cans to have them discounted, etc...) as having both. The same holds true for his refusal to grow up and be more responsible.
  • Sonny also lies to Mr. Brooks about being Julian's father so that he can continue to keep him.
  • Carinne doesn't like Sonny and isn't reluctant to show that in public.
  • We learn that Vanessa may have been having an affair behind Sonny's back.
  • After a man comments on Sonny cursing in front of Julian in McDonalds, Sonny grabs his fries and throws them to the floor.
  • Sonny enters a man's house to make him give Julian some Halloween "treats" (after the man refuses to answer the door).
  • Some may not like a joke where Sonny has Julian tell Layla that if she doesn't come over to their house there's a good chance he'll develop a stutter (and he then briefly begins stuttering).
  • The same holds true when Sonny comments on an overweight man, saying that he saw him in the same restaurant earlier with a different woman and then adds, "but I guess he ate her."
  • A man, commenting on how Sonny should be able to get custody of Julian if O.J. Simpson can get away with murder, then gestures to a black man in the audience and comments that the black man knows what he's talking about.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Banging" (sexual), "Holy sh*t," "Cool sh*t," "I'm in deep sh*t," "Kicking ass," "Kick ass," "Nuts" (crazy), "Sucker," "Hooterific," "Ass wiper," "Shut up," "Cut the crap," "Zip it, or I'll break your hip," "Balls" (testicles), "Jeez," "Idiot," "Loser," "Moron," "Screwed up," "Freaky ass" and "You suck."
  • Sonny puts a stick out in the path of an in-line skater, causing them to trip and fall. Later, Julian, having learned this from Sonny, does the same thing.
  • When Julian says he has to go and they can't find a bathroom, Sonny has him urinate against a wall on the street (and has to do so himself to show the boy how). Later, we see Julian urinating on a wall again, on a tree outdoors and on a plant in his classroom.
  • To make Julian laugh by getting hurt, Sonny jumps out in front a moving vehicle and gets hit by it (but is okay).
  • Upset after talking to his father on a public phone, Sonny repeatedly bangs the receiver against the phone.
  • Sonny shows Julian how to do a wrestling "sleeper' hold around someone's neck, and does so on his delivery man friend, apparently causing him to pass out. Trying to rouse him, Sonny then taps the guy on his clothed crotch.
  • A man gives Sonny "the finger" as does Corinne later in the film.
  • Julian twice clears his throat and then lets a long string of thick spit/mucous fall from his mouth and then sucks it back in again before it hits the ground.
  • Sonny lets Julian dress however he likes (huge boots, a colander on his head, etc...).
  • Sonny and then Julian purposefully throw cans of food to the floor in a grocery store to dent them so that they're then marked down to half price.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Some of the following is said in front of a five-year-old, or by that boy himself.
  • 1 slang term for sex ("banging") and at least 12 "s" words, 4 slang terms for breasts ("boobs"), 18 asses (2 used with "hole"), 13 hells, 6 damns, 4 craps, and 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 uses each of "G-damn," "Good God," "Swear to God" and "Oh God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "God" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • We see Vanessa get out of Sonny's bed in the morning. As she then gets dressed, we see her in her bra that shows lots of cleavage.
  • Corinne shows cleavage in various outfits she wears (including one where she bends over and shows a lot).
  • Two of Sonny's lawyer friends are gay, and we see them kiss goodbye at a party and make some flirtatious remarks to each other in other scenes (such as comparing Brad Pitt's body with theirs).
  • When Julian asks for a nightlight, Sonny brings in an arrow-shaped neon sign that says "Live Nudes."
  • Vanessa shows cleavage, and when Sonny finds an older man at her place (after thinking he was a younger guy), he's relieved and casually tells him, "I thought you were sleeping with my girl." The man replies, "I am." As Sonny leaves, he tells Vanessa to think about the man's old and wrinkled body "on top of you" and then comments on his "old balls." In a later scene, Sonny says that he had a good mother lined up for Julian, but "she's banging the Pepperidge Farms guy."
  • When Corinne tells Sonny that she heard he was "doing laundry" with her sister (they really were), he turns it into a sexual joke and says that "Where I come from, it's called doing the hippity dippity." With her having a large bosom and wearing a tightfitting, cutoff shirt, Sonny then comments on her and Julian wearing the same size shirt. As she then walks away in disgust, he tells her to avoid the frozen food section or else "your boobs will harden."
  • Kevin admits to having sex with a woman (Julian's mother) while drunk.
  • We see some buxom women in tightfitting shirts at a Hooter's restaurant.
  • None.
  • Sonny's father constantly badgers and/or belittles him.
  • Although we never see Julian's mother or his reaction to her situation, his mother has him deposited at Sonny and Kevin's place and we later learn that she's died from cancer.
  • While Sonny's not his real father, Julian doesn't like the thought of being taken from him forever, but that's what's seemingly happening when Mr. Brooks takes him away in one scene.
  • The behavior -- cursing, public urination, etc... that Sonny teaches Julian (and which elicits laughs from the audience).
  • Sonny's initial reluctance to grow up that changes when he learns he must be more responsible with Julian.
  • When carrying something past him, Corinne purposefully hits Sonny on the head with it.
  • Sonny puts a stick out in the path of an in-line skater, causing them to trip and fall. Later, Julian, having learned this from Sonny, does the same thing.
  • Upset after talking to his father on a public phone, Sonny repeatedly bangs the receiver against the phone booth.
  • Julian hits a man with a stick and later repeatedly whacks the delivery man on the head (all somewhat playfully).
  • Sonny and then Julian purposefully throw cans of food to the floor in a grocery store to dent them so that they're then marked down to half price.

  • Reviewed June 17, 1999 / Posted June 25, 1999

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