$20 MILLION A FILM. THAT'S WHAT Saturday Night Live's former "Crazy Spoon Man," Adam Sandler, gets to do a film these days. It doesn't even have to be a good film, if last year's The Waterboy is an apt indication; it just has to make money. Now he's starring in Big Daddy, his first "grown-up" movie, and it isn't very good, either. Who cares? It'll make a boat load of money, and Sandler will no doubt get $25 million for his next picture. Why? Because just about everybody loves Adam Sandler. My best friend loves Adam Sandler. My mother loves Adam Sandler. My boyfriend loves Adam Sandler. I love Adam Sandler. I hated Bobby Boucher, his character in The Waterboy, but I still couldn't wait to see Sandler play a father in Big Daddy. Hell, even though he "doesn't do print interviews" (depriving me of my chance to meet him while I was on the press junket for the film), I still love Adam Sandler.

Sandler is Sonny Koufax, a smart guy with a dumb life who finds himself very attached to a five-year-old boy whom everyone thinks should be surrendered to a foster family. The kid is the son of his roommate Kevin (Jon Stewart), left on his doorstep the morning Kevin (an attorney -- he and Sonny went to law school together) leaves for an extended business trip to China. Kevin doesn't believe the kid is his, so Sonny agrees to watch over him until a foster family can be found.

Much "comedy" ensues from this point forward, including a lot of pee jokes (kids gotta go a lot, and New York restaurant owners would rather let them piss in their pants than use the establishment's bathrooms), puke gags, repetitive video watching (yes, there's something out there worse than Barney), and the ever-popular bachelor-using-the-kid ploy to get a woman. In this case, the woman is the squeaky-voiced Joey Lauren Adams, who plays an attorney who works so hard that she doesn't have time to let a guy like Sonny fuck up her master plan, despite the fact that they both love Styx. Of course, as with any Sandler movie, he's just playing himself. Consequently, though I didn't like the movie very much, I found Sonny completely and utterly irresistible.

Among the co-stars is Sandler's SNL brother, the repellent Rob Schneider, playing a loserly take-out food delivery guy who has become a third roommate, simply because he's always bringing food to the apartment. His character is just plain retarded. As I watched his scenes, I became so uncomfortable knowing that I would have to speak to the actor the following day, I contemplated feigning a family emergency and just going home. I didn't, and during the interview Schneider did a dead-on impersonation of Sandler, explaining, in Sandler's voice, why his character had graduated from a cameo to a full-on, constant presence (a lot of double speak that boils down to nothing more than that Sandler thinks he's funny). I still love Adam Sandler.

So what's really wrong with Big Daddy? While no one expects it to be anything remotely resembling Citizen Kane, the film feels like about two minutes of writing and preparation went into the process--just a big series of "Hey, what if we did this?!" and "You know what would be really funny?!" Sandler must have been on the phone every five minutes calling up one of his buddies to come down and make a sight gag. For example, there's Kevin's well-endowed fiancée, now a doctor, who paid her way through med school working at Hooter's, and is now the butt of numerous tit jokes made by Sonny and his law-school friends. The jokes are often funny, but become gratuitous pretty quickly. But you continue to laugh because it's actually the funniest gag in the film.

The kid, played by "identical" twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse, isn't cute or geeky enough to really be engaging. I didn't care whether Sonny kept him or not. And it was obvious every time one twin was switched for the other. Sonny's relationship with his fuckhead father is a pat one, so when Pop tries to screw up his son's chances of getting a son of his own, then gets the Grinchy Glow of Love, it's a glare any audience member could have seen shining all the way from China. You know from scene one that it's only a matter of time before Sonny becomes a contributing member of society--because it happens in all of Sandler's movies. It's just usually more fun watching his character get there.

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