Eye For Film >> Movies >> Big Daddy (1998) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
The Waterboy was bad. This is better. Awfulness has grades in Cringe City. A moron on a football field is worse than a slob in a New York loft. Add a five-year-old kid, whose first words are, "I wipe my own ass", and things get sticky.
Adam Sandler is fast overtaking Jim Carrey in the popularity stakes. His humour is completely different, closer to Jerry Lewis, if anyone, although some people might call it imaginary.
He plays Sonny, a 32-year-old drop-out law graduate, living off a personal liability check, after a truck ran over his toe, subsisting on take away meals - the delivery guy (Rob Schneider) is his best buddy - and holding down a job as a toll booth attendant.
One day, Social Services dumps Julian (identical twins, Cole and Dylan Sprouse) on his doorstep. Room-mate Kevin (Jon Stewart), soon to be married and now in China on business, apparently is the father. On a whim and because he's half asleep, Sonny says he's Kevin and accepts responsibility. He treats the boy as a pet. There is much urinating in public and playing tricks on people, such as tripping up rollerbladers in the park, which they find hilarious. As a dad, Sonny is the opposite of his own father, an authoritarian bully, and lets Julian do what he wants. Only when the teacher at school says his personal habits are a disgrace and he stinks does Sonny bother to bath him.
Sandler's five years on Saturday Night Live, as writer and performer, taught him the first lesson of sight bite comedy - keep it simple. The second lesson is, work with stereotypes. Big Daddy has the hallmarks of a TV sitcom. The living space is decorated with designer junk and the character parts are labelled - Gay Friends, Bitch Blonde, Lovable Drunk, Nice Girlfriend (Joey Lauren Adams), Idiot Immigrant, Harmless Tramp (Steve Buscemi, get outta there!), etc.
Rather than waste good money on a pre-cooked package of bad parenting gags, head for the video store and ask for Kolya, a movie of genuine quality that covers the same territory with feeling and intelligence. Also, it's funny.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001