Triple review: ‘Bedtime Stories,’ ‘Mr. Deeds’ and ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan’

These are a few Sandler movies that are being reviewed from memory…

Bedtime StoriesReleased: December 25, 2008. Director: Adam Shankman. Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce. Runtime: 99 min.

“Bedtime Stories” is imaginative and it’s one of Sandler’s more family-friendly efforts, but it’s lame, boring and forgettable.

Score38/100

 

Mr. Deeds

 

Released: June 28, 2002. Director: Steven Brill. Stars: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turturro. Runtime: 96 min.

“Mr. Deeds” is a watchable Adam Sandler movie. You root for Longfellow Deeds because he’s a small-town guy trying to adapt to the big city life, and he’s likeable enough to wish for his happiness. Ryder’s character at first is extremely unlikeable. Like most comedies (with hints of romance), it’s predictable – and you’ll see Ryder’s change of heart from 96 minutes away. There’s a few laugh-out-loud moments (“I think I just shat myself!”) and a lot of chuckles, so it’s an entertaining comedy that I find myself always watching when it’s on TV. John Turturro is amusing in his supporting role. But I assume it’s inferior to the original, but I can’t comment on that because I haven’t seen it.

Score70/100

You Don't Mess with the ZohanReleased: June 6, 2008. Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui. Runtime: 113 min.

I watched this on TV the other week. I was half-paying attention and half on the computer, but even as part-background noise, it was still as awful as I remember it being at the theatre. The plot isn’t entirely stupid (An Israeli Special Forces Soldier fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist), at least compared to some of Sandler’s other works, but the humour is stupid. I like politically incorrect humour – but all I ask is that it’s funny, like some of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work (mostly just “Borat”). Sacha Baron Cohen, Sandler is not. This is a middling effort, but at least there’s an effort to make his character memorable, since he isn’t distinctive in all of his average guy roles. It’s really too bad that it’s also one of his worst characters. John Turturro tries his best, but even he can’t make this enjoyable.

Score38/100

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A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to RememberA Walk to Remember

Release Date: January 25, 2002

Director: Adam Shankman

Stars: Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote

Runtime: 101 min

Tagline: Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

In 1965, a romance novelist was born who would be known for his schmaltzy, predictable and usually mindless love stories that can sometimes express a certain charm and always make girls expect so much more from men. That man is Nicholas Sparks. In 1994, he wrote his debut novel, ‘The Notebook.’ Since then, he has became a household name. Especially in homes with teenage girls. Eight (including the upcoming 2013 film, Safe Haven) of his novels have been adapted into films, some of the best include The Notebook, Dear John and The Last Song. While most of the movies adapted from his works are incredibly lame, two stand out: The Notebook, and A Walk to Remember.

This film follows Landon Carter (Shane West), a high school senior who gets sentenced to do community service after he and a few buddies play a cruel initiation prank on a poor old sap who wants to be a part of their group. Landon soon lands his eyes on the beautiful daughter of the Reverend, Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore). While they soon fall in love, Landon must deal with his sudden plummet of popularity, and Jamie must deal with her over-bearing father and a secret she keeps from everyone.

No folks, she isn’t a man. That isn’t her secret. Her secret is fairly predictable, but it admittedly adds a surprising flair of emotion when it comes around the bend.

Like all other Sparks adaptations, this is still predictable and melodramatic, but it is one of the most bearable of his features. The two leads create a charming chemistry, and they make it bearable – and Moore is the pretty face that adds to its attraction. They are the best part of the feature, but the story is nothing new or anything you haven’t really seen before.

Landon must make a hard self-sacrifice of giving up his friends for the one he loves, and sacrifice his mega-popularity at the top of the high school food chain. And then, as expected, Jamie starts to change his heart for the better. Though, her secret makes her a little more reserved. These concepts are made new though, by the unexpected amount of heart and tenderness the film possesses.

All these redeeming qualities do not stop it from being predictable and melodramatic, however. These just merely make the experience bearable for anyone outside of its target audience. It’s fairly entertaining, and it’s a nice little mindless break from the real world. It also gives girls a fantasy world to live in for 101 minutes, and for that, it should be cherished by them. News flash: we men don’t have scripts written for us, not all of us know how to woo you with a fine ease. We’re not the figure you write about in all your diaries.

In a nutshell: A Walk to Remember is a fine feature for its target audience: teenage girls who want to believe most men are something they really aren’t; and for others, it’s only a little entertaining. It is made mostly bearable by Mandy Moore, but the story leaves something to be desired.

63/100

The Hot Chick (2002)

Released: December 13, 2002Director: Tom BradyStars: Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams, Anna FarrisRuntime: 104 min.

The Hot Chick is the Freaky Friday of Happy Madison Productions.

Jessica (Rachel McAdams for the first bit of the film, and Schneider for the later part) is a self-absorbed high school prissy female who thinks she’s top dog because she has a jock boyfriend and a great group of friends, but the truth is that she really isn’t overly liked by her general high school. On a regular trip to the mall, she’s attracted to an antique shop by a distant music (probably Adam Sandler’s character playing his drums). There, she finds these ancient earrings that come with a mythic story: A young female princess switched bodies with a peasant by these magical earrings, so she can escape an awful marriage; but what she did not know was that she had to switch them before sunset. Henceforth, she was stuck as a peasant for her life. So that’s the whole myth behind those earrings, and you’re probably thinking – where the heck does Schneider come in? Schneider’s original character is a 30-something career criminal lowlife called Clive. Jess and Clive cross paths when he’s robbing a gas station, and doesn’t make a too-slick getaway. Jessica drops one of her earrings, and at night – ba da bing, ba da boom – they both happen to be wearing the earrings, and they both switch bodies.

Schneider brings his usual antics to the feature. The story and conclusion are mighty predictable and have been done before, but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining in most areas and endurable in the weaker spots of the flick.

Rachel McAdams was underused in this movie, because in reality she probably got a little bit less than twenty minutes of screen time. There are several memorable scenes offered, and also weak scenes. That’s usually the case with Happy Madison comedies though, because they’re often just comedians doing their antics – and – who needs a plot anyway, right?

An endurable screenplay is offered for us lovers of Sandler’s brand of humour. Granted, there are a lot of weak jokes and just some boring “please make it end” moments, but it makes up for that in scenes of pure comedy, and those are probably followed by a few scenes of mediocrity.

The relationships struck up between some characters are quite predictable. A lot of the characters are one–dimensional, and unlikable. Jessica is a prime example of a one-dimensional character, but she changes with this apparent life-shaping experience of switching bodies with a criminal. A little character development is attempted, it isn’t great, but it’s just okay.

The Hot Chick offers silly characters, and an overly tired premise. Though, it also offers hilarious scenes and entertainment that can be enjoyed over and over, well, until it’s fully worn out. It isn’t my favourite Happy Madison production, but is a great one – and definitely Schneider’s best headlining flick (in relations with Sandler).

Score60/100

Spider-Man – A (short) film review by Daniel Prinn – A great start to a solid trilogy

Spider-Man

Release Date: May 3, 2002

Director: Sam Raimi

Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe

Release Date: 121 min

Tagline: Does whatever a spider can.

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is an average everyday science wiz, until he goes on a field trip and gets bitten by a spider that gives him superhuman abilities. After tragedy befalls his family, Peter must use his abilities to become New York’s masked saviour.

Along the way, he deals with a number of things: coping with his newfound abilities, fight for the love of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), and fight the evil Green Goblin.

It’s quite the action film; and it is one of my favourite super-hero films. The storyline is  well-structured, the characters are likeable, the acting is good, and the direction is great. I liked the villain in this one; but the action sequences aren’t very memorable.

The film also stars James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris and J.K. Simmons.

It’s a good movie, and a great first film for a great movie trilogy.

 

75/100