Billionaire Buffoon, Big-Headed Cartoon Join Box Office Fray

'Mr. Deeds,' 'Hey Arnold! The Movie' open friday.

A cartoonish, kidlike heir and a cartoon kid with weird hair are both
hitting theaters this weekend.

“Mr. Deeds,” the first of several new Adam Sandler comedies on the way, will
roll out on the same day that “Arnold” leaps from the small screen in “Hey
Arnold! The Movie.” (Click here for photos )

“Mr. Deeds” is the latest variation on the fish-out-of-water formula that
drove earlier Sandler flicks like “Happy Gilmore,” “Billy Madison” and “The
Waterboy.” The premise is familiar: Sandler as a simple, kindhearted
man-child with a violent (but funny) side who finds himself in unfamiliar
territory. This time it’s the jet-setting world of the corporate elite,
which Sandler’s character is ushered into after inheriting a media empire
worth upwards of $40 billion.

“We’re talking about a man who’s just a small-town fella, hanging out, doing
his thing,” Sandler told Snoop Dogg during a recent “Movie House” segment. “He owns a pizza place. He’s kinda
goofy, like me. And all of a sudden he has a relative who passes away who
didn’t make a will up. When the man — and the man’s very wealthy —
dies, legally the closest relative gets the money, and I just happen to be
this guy.”

“Mr. Deeds,” a remake of sorts of Frank Capra’s 1936 classic “Mr. Deeds Goes
to Town,” is Sandler’s first picture since 2000’s commercially disappointing
“Little Nicky” and the first of many upcoming projects. Sandler is currently
shooting next year’s “Anger Management” alongside Jack Nicholson and Marisa
Tomei.

This fall’s “Punch-Drunk Love” promises a different look at Sandler, who
will step away from his more traditional characters under the careful
direction of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia”).
Anderson spent some time writing for “Saturday Night Live” in order to bone
up on his comedic chops for “Punch-Drunk Love,” which co-stars Emily Watson
(“Gosford Park”) and Anderson-film regular Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The
Talented Mr. Ripley”).

“8 Crazy Nights” will take Sandler even further from his established style
by moving him into the realm of cartoons. The animated holiday flick is set
for release in November.

Speaking of cartoons, the inevitable big-screen version of Nickelodeon’s
“Hey Arnold,” less than imaginatively titled “Hey Arnold! The Movie,”
revolves around the big-headed teen toon’s efforts to stop a greedy
industrialist from bulldozing his neighborhood. (MTV’s parent company,
Viacom, also owns Nickelodeon Movies, which produced “Hey Arnold! The
Movie.”)

“Hey Arnold!” will have to contend with another animated kid flick, “Lilo &
Stitch,” which gave Tom Cruise’s “Minority Report” a considerable run for
its money last weekend (see “Tom Cruise
Threatened By Tubby Blue Alien”
).