A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Daddy is a 1999 Adam Sandler film in which Sandler plays an irresponsible man-child who "adopts" a young boy under false pretenses. There is frequent profanity; humor is mined from a 5-year-old saying things like, "Is that the guy with the old balls?" and "But I wipe my own ass." Adults use variations on "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "a--hole," and "damn." While the humor is on the whole typical goofy and obnoxious Sandler fare, jokes are made at the expense of overweight people, and the very idea of two men falling in love and showing their affection by flirting and kissing is seen as something awkward. There is an incredible amount of product placement, and characters repeatedly mentioning McDonald's, Hooters, Pepperidge Farm, Pepsi, and assorted Frito-Lay products. For comedic effect, a homeless man makes reference to taking too many mushrooms in the 1970s. Expect beer and alcohol drinking. A father reminds his son of the time he found a bag of marijuana in his desk. Overall, for those who enjoy Adam Sandler movies, this is typical of the formula he used to great success in the 1990s, and by this point, you either like it or you don't.
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What's the story?
BIG DADDY centers on Sonny Koufax (Adam Sandler), a shiftless young man who is wasting his life, much to the chagrin of his parents, friends, and girlfriend. One day, 5-year-old Julian (played by twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse) is abandoned on his doorstep through a mix-up. Rather than place the boy in an orphanage, Koufax agrees to take care of him for a few days, thinking it will help him win back his ex-girlfriend. At first the two have fun behaving irresponsibly together, but gradually Koufax comes to love the boy and realizes that he wants to keep him. He also realizes that if he wants to keep Julian, he will have to begin to accept some responsibility. He sees the consequences of his slacker lifestyle in the influence he has on the child -- and in the risk he runs of losing him. Koufax fights the Department of Social Services in court when they come to take the boy back.
Is it any good?
Big Daddy has all the unavoidable elements of an Adam Sandler film: slapstick humor, gross jokes, bodily functions galore, spectacular pratfalls, and more than a sprinkling of sexual innuendo. Yet it's a welcome return to the sweetness and heart of The Wedding Singer after the numbing dopiness of The Waterboy, and the tasteless portions (about 90 percent of the film) are played in such a broad and obvious way that there's little risk teens will mistake this for acceptable behavior.
This is not a profound movie, but adolescents (and those who like adolescent humor) will enjoy it. Sandler has a light-enough touch that the movie doesn't become sentimental or lose its sense of humor by adding some heart to the characters. Like the character he plays, Sandler is beginning to learn that you can be responsible and funny at the same time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of silly comedies such as this one. Where is the line between funny and offensive?
How is product placement used in this movie? Why do some movies have what amounts to commercials shoehorned into the story? Do you think this is a problem? Why, or why not?
Adam Sandler has a distinct style and personality that often defines his movies. Who are some other actors with their own distinct styles and personalities, in both comedy and drama?
- In theaters: June 25, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 1999
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse
- Director: Dennis Dugan
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual references, and potty humor
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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