Big Daddy

This comedy is two Hooters jokes away from being a complete waste. And that isn’t saying much.

Picture Adam Sandler as Sonny Koufax, a 30-something law school casualty who pays for his Sharper Image slum apartment with money he won in a lawsuit after a taxi ran over his foot. His only friend is the illegal alien carryout guy who can’t read or figure out his own ethnicity, played by SNL cohort Rob Schneider. While Sonny’s lawyer-roommate (Jon Stewart), who is engaged to an ex-Hooters girl, is on a business trip to China, his adorable five-year-old son, Julian, shows up at the door looking for his real daddy.

Since Sonny obviously has nothing better to do, he takes the kid for a few days, then decides to keep him in order to prove to his girlfriend that he has a sense of responsibility. With a laissez-faire parenting technique, Sonny encourages Julian to pee on walls, trip in-line skaters in Central Park and eat plates of ketchup for dinner. The entire movie is one bid for a chuckle after another, and neither the cookie-cutter edges of Sandler’s weak one-liners nor the cute kid factor can save it.

In a frustrating exercise in predictability, Sonny gets rid of the bad girlfriend and wins the heart of the ex-Hooters girl’s sister, Layla, a woman baited by the adorable Julian in the park. It’s a weird set-up, but the ex-Hooters girl happens to be the only character Sonny has any chemistry with.

Their rivalry makes way for two of the only funny lines in the movie. When he runs into her at a grocery store, he warns her not to go into the frozen foods lest her breast implants get hard. Later on the street, he asks her if she’s carrying tassels and chicken wings in her shopping bag. Unfortunately, these moments are all-too-brief diversions from a poor realization of a bland script, co-written by Sandler himself.

Eventually, Sonny puts on a suit, settles issues with his dad and even makes friends with a homeless man (played by Steve Buscemi) who spends all his time making stupid comments about doing too many drugs in the ’70s and that his father was a shell-shocked war veteran who made him crazy. But each personal triumph is more nauseating than the previous one, and none of the novice parent antics are funny.

Sandler was a hilarious guy till Waterboy, which just goes to show that a bad movie can hide a world of talent, even with a big budget and catchy buzz words like "Hooterrific" just waiting to invade our culture.

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