Adam Sandler isnít exactly the person one would expect to find in a Frank Capra movie, but then again this MR. DEEDS ($28) isnít exactly a Capra-esque comedy. This modern take of Capraís MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN has been fine-tuned for Sandlerís type of comedy, but retains some of the heart contained in the Capra original. MR. DEEDS is best described as another one of those Adam Sandler crossover movies that is striving for a more mainstream audience. However, unlike Sandlerís previous attempt, BIG DADDY, I found that MR. DEEDS proves to be far more successful in making that leap, without alienating audiences of his earlier films.
In MR. DEEDS Sandler portrays Longfellow Deeds, a pizza parlor owner from a small New Hampshire town who aspires to write greeting cards for Hallmark. Deeds small town existence is radically changed when he learns that he is the sole heir to a distant uncleís forty billion dollar media empire. After being whisked off to New York City, Deeds is manipulated into selling his shares in the media conglomerate to Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher), who needs Deeds controlling interest to sell off the corporation's assets for even more money. Added to the mix is beautiful tabloid TV show producer Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder), who lulls Deeds into a romantic entanglement, just so her boss can make him look like an unsophisticated rube on TV. The cast of MR. DEEDS also includes the wonderful John Turturro, as well as Steve Buscemi, Jared Harris, Allen Covert, Conchata Ferrell, Roark Critchlow, Peter Dante, J.B. Smoove, Erick Avari and Harve Presnell.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made MR. DEEDS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a really great looking transfer, which comes as no surprise since MR. DEEDS is a brand new studio "A" production just coming off of theatrical release. The image on the DVD is bright, sharp, well defined and very attractive. Colors are quite vibrant, while flesh tones maintain a natural and very appealing appearance. Neither chroma noise nor smearing is present to mar the fine color reproduction of this presentation. Blacks are suitably inky, whites are clean and contrast is very smooth. Additionally, the picture produces a very nice level of shadow detail. Clean dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts very well concealed.
MR. DEEDS features a very nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. This is a better than average comedy mix, nothing flashy, but cleanly implemented with a nice sonic presence. The forward soundstage carries most of the sound effects, with the rears seeing a bit of action, but mostly providing ambience and musical fill. Dialogue is very cleanly render and is always completely understandable. Music is rendered with excellent fidelity and always sounds very pleasing. The bass channel doesnít have too much to do, other than reinforce a few sound effects and pump up the music just a bit. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's amusing interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD supplements. Director Steven Brill and screenwriter Tim Herlihy are on hand for a running audio commentary that should amuse fans. Six deleted scenes are included on the DVD, and all but the one involving a pizza delivery to Steve Buscemiís character belonged on the cutting room floor. Heck, it was the only one of the bunch that made me laugh.
Also included on the DVD are three featurettes. From Mandrake Falls To Manhattan runs eighteen minutes and proves to be a better than average making of featurette, which includes a look at Frank Capraís MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN and how this version of the story differs. Spare No Expense clocks in at a little over six minutes and provides a glimpse at the filmís production design and how the filmmakers conveyed the wealth of the title character. Clothes Make The Man runs another six minutes and looks at the filmís costume design. A music video for the song Where are you Going by the Dave Matthews Band is also included, as are animated versions of Deeds' Greeting Cards. Closing out the supplements is an Outtakes Reel and theatrical trailers for MR. DEEDS, 8 CRAZY NIGHTS, MASTER OF DISGUISE, MEN IN BLACK II and I SPY.
MR. DEEDS is a very amusing Adam Sandler outing with a bit more charm and more restraint than was displayed in her earlier films. Columbia TriStarís wide screen DVD edition looks and sound great, which combined with the nice supplemental section, makes this a disc that both his old and new fans will want to check out.
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