Adam Sandler is a very funny man, but he’s often funnier in cameo roles than in his own $20 million-a-picture star vehicles. In small doses, his antics are hilarious. Unfortunately, it seems most directors have let the inmate run the asylum, never reigning Sandler in and saving his manic energy for the best, funniest and most appropriate moments. Not so with Big Daddy and director Dennis Dugan. Sandler -- the Big Daddy -- launches into his patented tirades and silly voices, to be sure, but always at just the right time and to perfect comic effect.
Although Steve Franks script is nothing new, the movie is packed with enough jokes, and funny ones at that, that you don’t really seem to notice or care just how many incarnations of the same idea you’ve seen. Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler) is an irresponsible thirty-year-old loser whose girlfriend Vanessa (Kristy Swanson) dumps him because of his slackerdom. When orphaned five-year-old Julian shows up at his doorstep, Sonny seizes the opportunity to be responsible and win his girl back. It doesn’t work, but along the way he falls for the kid, meets and falls in love with the cutest Sierra Club lawyer, Layla (Joey Lauren Adams) and learns how to put aside his childish ways.
Trite? Sure, but the running gags and jokes pay off time and again and in completely unexpected ways.
Big Daddy just might be the movie that moves Adam Sandler in the direction of being respected by critics for his comic gifts. (The general public, which always knows better anyway, already gets him.) Big Daddy is buoyed by a terrific supporting cast that includes Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, Allen Covert and Leslie Mann.