Big Daddy (1999)
Who’s the Daddy
Don't worry about me making money. I'm in love with a woman who makes plenty of it. She'll be my sugar mamma - Sonny
Once upon a time I found Adam Sandler incredibly funny, but quite quickly I became incredibly bored of the same routine he used in every single one of his comedies, from "The Wedding Singer" through to "50 First Dates" nothing really changed. But whilst the majority of his movies deliver like for like stuff, there is something about "Big Daddy" which manages to charm me despite relying heavily on his same petulant, shouting routine. The something in question is the pairing up of Sandler with a young child, which manages to calm him down a notch or two as well as providing the typical cutesy effect of using an innocent child in a movie.
With all his friends pursuing grown up life and his girlfriend wanting more, slacker, Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler - Happy Gilmore) decides that maybe he needs to start showing that he can act responsibility and stop shunning grown up life. When a young boy, Julian (Cole and Dylan Spouse), is abandoned on his doorstep he grasps the opportunity and whilst social services search out a permanent home for the young child he decides to look after him. But as they spend more and more time together Sonny realises that being a father to Julian is exactly what he wants, the only trouble is that social services thinks otherwise.
The story to "Big Daddy" is nothing new and the adult looking after an abandoned child storyline has been done many times before ever since the early days of cinema, most commonly in the comedy genre. In fact looking at the basis of "Big Daddy" it is really quite disappointing as they have not attempted to do anything new with this concept at all. But it is not so much this base storyline which makes the movie stand out above Adam Sandler's other comedies, but the brilliant interaction between himself and the young boy, Julian. These interactions are really the driving force of the story as they provide brilliant moments of humour through to touching moments when the realisation finally hits Sonny that he is ready to take on adult responsibilities.
It is no surprise that being an Adam Sandler movie that a vast amount of the comedy could only be termed as juvenile with cheap laughs being gained at every opportunity, whether it is watching a skater fall over a purposely placed stick or Sandler's trademark screaming fit. But at the same time there are some very well crafted moments of humour which will make you laugh but also hit you with a real sense of meaning. One such scene is when Sonny is carrying Julian and you see that whilst he has been carrying him, the young boy has wet himself and inadvertently soaked Sonny's t-shirt. For me my first instinct was to laugh but then you also get hit by a sense of real caring from Sonny, that despite this mishap he still carries on carrying him. In some ways these moments are so unusual for a Sandler comedy that they can easily be missed and in doing so "Big Daddy" just plays like any other one of his comedies.
Whilst the main thrux of "Big Daddy" revolves around the relationship between Sonny and Julian, there are numerous smaller storylines which add some much needed depth to the movie. Such as Sonny's flatmate who maybe Julian's real father but who is also trying to make something of his life and career. Then there is the relationship between Sonny and his ex girlfriend as well as one with his new girlfriend, Layla, who also seems to have a positive effect on his life. All of these are welcome additions to the movie and whilst none of them really take centre stage they are all worked brilliantly into the main storyline providing depth and slight variation to the main theme.
One of my main issues with "Big Daddy" falls on the character of Sonny Koufax and equally on Adam Sandler who plays him. Whilst Sandler has undoubtedly toned down some of his more outrageous comedy moments, you still get the feeling that you have seen this character before, in some ways this could have been a sequel to one of his earlier movies "Billy Madison" as the character of Sonny is near on identical to the one in that movie. But I suppose if people are willing to pay to see Sandler repeat the same shtick over and again he will keep on providing it.
On the other hand compared to the usual characters which appear in Sandler's comedies, the introduction of a young child is like a breath of fresh air and in the case of Julian is brilliantly played by twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse who also appeared in the American sitcom Friends. Whilst the character of Julian is basically nothing more than the cute kid who goes from being very unsure of Sonny to loving him like a real parent, the interactions between them is absolutely brilliant. Of course "Big Daddy" also sees roles for all Sandler's mates such as Alan Covert and Rob Schneider in there typical comedy cameos but also sees good performances from Joey Lauren Adams and Steve Buscemi.
One thing which seems to have been missing from many of Sandler's comedies has been a really decent soundtrack, thankfully this is remedied in "Big Daddy" With songs from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Guns n Roses and Neil Young it really does play and important role in the film and really helps to drive the film on.
What this all boils down to is that whilst a lot of Sandler's movies fail to be nothing more than just another juvenile outing for the seemingly petulant star, "Big Daddy" shows a slightly calmer Sandler which when teamed up with a young child is actually a delight to watch. Yes the storyline is pretty predictable and the character of Sonny is pretty much standard Sandler fare, but the interactions between the characters is absolutely first rate and it is solely this element which stops this from being just another Sandler movie.
Tags: Instant Families
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