Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:33 - Released 6/25/99

From the desk of Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy comes another gem of infantile comedy, lacking any basis in reality, but full of bathroom humor and the occasional, undeniable chuckle. Actually, the story was penned by Steve Franks (his debut work), but Sandler and Herlihy chipped in on the screenplay, assuring the same mindless style as seen in Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy. Why Sandler, now in his 30's, would choose to remain in the junior high school mentality is beyond comprehension, unless it is simply a clever ruse to sell movie tickets. If the success of The Waterboy is any gauge, the trick works.

In this undistinguished romp, Sandler plays Sonny Koufax, a promising law student who gave up his career after he was injured in an accident with a taxicab and awarded $200,000, which he invested in the stock market. With his money increasing exponentially, he has no desire to finish his studies, preferring to hold down a one-day-a-week job as a tollbooth operator, sleep until noon on every other day of the week, and order all his meals from a cheesy diner whose delivery man (Rob Schneider) is a friend of his. The trouble is, his girlfriend Vanessa (Kristy Swanson) doesn't agree with his choice, and decides to put their relationship on hold until he becomes a more productive member of society.

Just after Sonny's roommate and college buddy Kevin (Jon Stewart) leaves for a business trip to China, a child and a note gets delivered to the apartment, saying the boy, Julian (played by Cole and Dylan Sprouse), belongs to Kevin. Sonny decides the real way to show Vanessa he's serious about the future is to adopt the boy. As their relationship grows, he teaches Julian all the finer points of living like a pig, peeing on the sides of buildings, eating and dressing however and whenever he wants, and seldom, if ever, bathing. Vanessa doesn't go for the ploy, but Sonny does manage to snag the affections of another beautiful young lawyer named Layla (Joey Lauren Adams, Chasing Amy).

Though there are several truly funny moments in Big Daddy, they're all included in the trailer, so if you've seen it, that's all you need. In fact, they're not even as funny in context. But where this film really falls flat is the romance department, pairing a wholly unlikely affair (between a wealthy pig and a professional woman) with a tear-jerking story of a child's uncertain future. Both elements culminate in an idiotic court scene that would make any legal professional throw up. Despite the preposterous nature of the Franks/Sandler/Herlihy script, Adams does do some nice work as Layla, especially considering the fact that she had to make it look convincing that she was falling for this slob. And the Sprouse twins adequately do their job of being cute, though their part is as full of melodramatic foolishness as everyone else's. Sandler is, of course, Sandler; his easy charm and unpretentious delivery win him many points, but one continues to wonder when he's going to mature into comedy that doesn't involve toilets and profanity. ***

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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