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This 1999 box-office smash starred Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart, and twin child actors Cole and Dylan Sprouse. It tells the story of thirtysomething Manhattan resident Sonny Koufax (Sandler), a Syracuse law graduate who has no plan whatsoever of taking his bar exam. Instead, he lives off a fat settlement from getting his foot run over years ago and works as a toll-booth collector one day per week, spending the rest of his days sleeping and watching cartoons at the apartment he rents with fellow Syracuse alum Kevin Gerrity (Stewart).
His life changes forever one day when a young orphan named Julian (Cole and Dylan Sprouse) is literally left at his door. Sonny at first wants nothing to do with the kid, but then realizes that he just might be able to use him to impress his cantankerous father, Lenny - not to mention win back the affection of his disillusioned girlfriend, Vanessa.
As time goes on, Sonny and Julian strike up a friendship that eventually becomes so strong that Sonny decides to adopt the boy permanently. Problem is, social services representative Arthur Brooks suspects that Sonny may have resorted to chicanery in order to gain custody of Julian, and decides to investigate....
This movie also features Joey Lauren Adams as Layla, a lawyer who helps Sonny; Leslie Mann as Corinne, Layla's sardonic sister; and Rob Schneider as Nazo, a delivery boy who often brings Sonny food. Steve Buscemi turns up in a cameo as a homeless person.
- Ambiguously Jewish: The Koufaxes' ethnicity is never revealed, but in one scene Sonny puts on a subtle Yiddish accent while impersonating his grandmother. (And of course, Sandy Koufax is the greatest Jewish baseball player ever which places him high in the running for greatest Jewish athlete, period.)
- Author Appeal: Sandler, who co-wrote and co-produced this film in addition to starring in it, includes references to some of his favorite things (such as Pro Wrestling, fast food, and the rock band Styx).
- Babies Ever After: Sonny and Layla have an infant child of their own by the end of the movie.
- Becoming the Mask: A very well-plotted example for Sonny.
- Bedmate Reveal: A slight subversion: Sonny knew that Vanessa was beside him, but we didn't.
- Big Eater: An enormously fat (and suspiciously Mob-looking) man is a regular patron of Sonny's favorite Italian restaurant, and he is always seen with a different girlfriend. (Sonny's theory is that he keeps eating his love interests.)
- Brick Joke: Upon investigating Vanessa's sudden rejection of him, Sonny discovers that she has dumped him in favor of a senior citizen (and grandfather) whom she defends as obviously preferable as a love interest because "he has a five-year plan." About a year and a half later, it is revealed that Vanessa is now working at Hooters with the older man, whose "five year plan" apparently included being the restaurant chef.
- Brooklyn Rage: Both generations of Koufax men have this down to an art.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Sonny still thinks that hawking loogies and throwing sticks in front of skaters so they'll trip are funny things to do, but he still boasts an impressive knowledge of Congressional legislation from his days at law school.
- Burger Fool: Vanessa and Sid.
- Butt Monkey: Nazo.
- Canada, Eh?: Kevin sings the praises of Canadian beer at the trial.
- Chekhov's Gag: Hooters.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The crazed homeless man also shows flashes of this behavior: within seconds, he goes from taunting Nazo to giggling stupidly to screaming "STOP YELLING AT ME!" and bursting into tears.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Among other escapades, Sonny takes Julian to the park and teaches him to throw sticks in front of in-line skaters to make them trip - all for his own sick amusement.
- The Comically Serious: Kevin, Vanessa, the kindergarten teacher, and Sonny's dad (to an extent).
- Cool Old Guy: Lenny Koufax. ("SHUT UP, TOMMY!")
- Deadpan Snarker: Many characters qualify, but Corinne is the most obvious.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Corinne, at least as far as Sonny is concerned. Vanessa also looks like she might become this at one point, but it doesn't happen.
Tommy: In your experience, was Sonny a good father to Julian?
- Door Step Baby: Although Julian isn't literally a baby anymore by the time he shows up.
- Fan Service: Vanessa is shown in her bra (over which she puts a gray suit jacket and nothing else) for no damn good reason. And then we see her in the standard-issue "Hooters" tank top and orange shorts. But it's Kristy Swanson, so we're not complaining.
- Kevin Gerrity, to Sonny Koufax. The two men look remarkably alike (except for Kevin having a more professional-looking haircut), but Kevin is there mainly to show the kind of man that Sonny could become (financially successful and happily married) if he just acted a little more responsibly. This doppelganger theme is even played up by the movie's main plot, which sees Sonny actually pretending to be Kevin (though, ironically, in doing this he is being irresponsible and not at all Kevin-like).
- Kevin's fiancee (and later wife) Corinne also has a foil - Vanessa, Sonny's would-be wife. Corinne eventually quits her job as a Hooter's waitress and becomes a doctor, while Vanessa goes almost exactly in reverse. Corinne also has a loving personality beneath her mean exterior, while Vanessa tries to hide her icy heart beneath a (somewhat) pleasant exterior.
- Food End: Buffalo wings! Yum!
- Foreshadowing: You could say that Sid was the "rat in the putting hole."
- From the Mouths of Babes: According to Julian (okay, Sonny), music critics are "cynical a**holes." (Also see the Brick Joke and Cloudcuckoolander entries on this page for more of Julian's, uh, "witticisms.")
- Fruit of the Loon: The homeless guy somehow sneaks a cantaloupe into the courtroom during the trial.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Actually, it's so blatant in this "family" picture that it's more like the jokes pointed and shouted "Hey, look over there!" and then ran by while the radar's head was turned.
- Gilligan Fade: Sonny's father makes him promise not to spend the money from his court settlement on "worthless crap." Sonny agrees - and then, the camera briefly fades out and then fades back in to show Sonny buying a surfboard.
- Hypocritical Humor: Plenty.
- Particularly shameless is when the homeless guy (who, being played by Steve Buscemi, is presumably Italian-American) thinks that the national dish of Nazo's homeland is not truly American - but that spaghetti and meatballs are perfectly American!
- There's also this exchange:
Ted Castellucci (the prosecuting attorney): Objection, Your Honor! The court is interested in the truth, not the opinion of the defendant's father.
- Irishman and a Jew: Kevin Gerrity and Sonny Koufax. The stereotypes are actually inverted in that Kevin is the serious one and Sonny is the more outgoing and rambunctious. (And ironically, the actor who plays Kevin is himself Jewish.)
- Ironic Echo: "Did you waste the good surprise on me again?"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: So many...
- Sonny's dad
- Also Mr. Herlihy, the drunken old man down at the sports bar (although there's significantly more "jerk" than "gold" with him)
- Kids Prefer Boxes: In the Cracked parody Big Duddy, "Sony" finds the kid left in a cardboard box at his back door. He promptly dumps the kid out and takes the now-empty box inside to "spend some quality time" with it.
- Malaproper: Nazo believes that George Washington's teeth were made of "wool."
- Non-Specifically Foreign: Just where is Nazo from, anyway?
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Sonny missed the old days when he and his friends had lots of fun, but they're too busy with their own lives and careers. Sonny's life has changed as well since meeting Julian.
Sonny: A kid walked into my life. You think I had that planned? But I fell in love with that kid. So my plans have changed.
- Noodle Incident:
- Kevin's time in Toronto. He got wasted and slept with a girl named Jane who gave birth to Julian. Of course, he's forgotten all about it, but Jane didn't.
- Not to mention: "Is there really a kid, or is this like the time you told me my parents were dead?"
- Oh Crap:
- Sonny, after realizing that Arthur Brooks has just called him by his real name instead of the false name he had been using.
- Kevin, after he realizes that he's just confessed in front of the entire courtroom (including Corinne) that he is Julian's biological father (and Corinne is not the mother). But Corinne forgives Kevin, because he confessed to save Sonny from jail.
- Vanessa does it twice in a row at the beginning of the movie (when she realizes she's late for an appointment, no thanks to Sonny):
Vanessa: [waking up] Shit! [looking at the clock] Shit!
- Periphery Hatedom: In-story example: Sonny absolutely loathes a giant singing kangaroo on a children's video watched by Julian ("I can't take this shit."). The kangaroo is obviously supposed to be a Captain Ersatz for Barney the Dinosaur, but oddly enough Barney, too, exists in the movie's universe.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Okay, so he's not exactly a villain. But the homeless guy does mention O. J. Simpson "getting away with murder" when he's called to the witness stand at Sonny's trial - and then looks over at a black juror with a condescending, You Know What They Say About X... attitude.
- Punch Clock Villain: Arthur Brooks, albeit in the context of Sonny's life. He does get some Pet the Dog moments along the way, as well as in the climactic courtroom scene.
- Reality Ensues: Subverted, double-subverted, then triple-subverted. Sonny calls himself to the witness stand at the trial and has his father cross-examine him in the hope that he can somehow win the court over with an emotional appeal. Miraculously, he does persuade Lenny that he has learned his lesson and is now prepared to be a responsible adult. Lenny vouches for his son and everyone in the courtroom applauds - but the judge will not let herself forget that Sonny broke the law and, no matter how contrite he may now be, still deserves to go to jail. But Kevin Gerrity, as Julian's biological father, refuses to press charges against his roommate, so Sonny walks out of court a free man. However, since he has proven himself to be erratic and untrustworthy, Sonny is refused custody of Julian, who is reunited with Kevin. But in the end Sonny does get a consolation prize in form of being appointed a mentor and uncle to Julian, and he and Layla have had a baby of their own by the time the epilogue rolls around.
- Reality Subtext: The cute waitress who serves Julian a root beer at the sports bar? It's Jackie Titone, who became Mrs. Adam Sandler just a few years later.
- Running Gag
- Screw The Rules, I'm Cute: Julian gets to win every card game he plays because he's a kid. His favorite "game," in fact, is called "I Win".
Nazo: [mad over "losing"] This is bullshit!
- Shoo Out the Clowns: When Sonny's lie is exposed by Arthur Brooks, the usually comical Nazo becomes a lot more serious, taking Sonny aside and telling them that he'd like to help, but "my status in this country is not exactly legal."
- Sink-or-Swim Fatherhood: Although Sonny has a bit more help than most thanks to Nazo (who, admittedly, is an even worse father figure), Phil and Tommy, and eventually Kevin when he returns from China.
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Jon Stewart. Even though he's the one who indirectly sets the entire plot in motion, as well as the one who resolves it in the end.
- Spiritual Successor: To Charlie Chaplin's 1921 silent classic The Kid, which is also about a derelict adopting a boy after his mother abandons him and then battling social services when they try to take the child from him.
- This Loser Is You: It's really the only way one can imagine the makers of this film thinking that audiences could accept Sonny as a genuine protagonist.
- Totally Radical: The judge (a visibly middle-aged woman) says "Awesome!" at the trial.
- Unintentional Period Piece:
- Sonny mentions to Julian that McDonald's did not have breakfast items when he was Julian's age, and that he remembers the day that Egg McMuffins were first introduced. (That was in 1973, when Sonny would have been about two years older than Julian.)
- In the penultimate scene, Nazo invites Sonny to his place, where "I've got Spice Channel." That adult pay-per-view network has now been renamed the "Fresh" Channel.
- Unlucky Busty Girl: Poor Vanessa. Then again, she did deserve her fate.
- Yeah! Shot: Well, it's more like a Yum Shot....
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Just after Sonny wins his father over to his side in the courtroom (, the judge bangs her gavel and it becomes clear that the trial will continue. Then it's time for Kevin to set the stage for the movie's actual climax by confessing that he is Julian's biological father.