Big Daddy (***) – For someone who sees as many movies as I do, to review an Adam Sandler film is an exercise of defensive criticism. Critics love to slam Adam Sandler movies and even at a recent comedy writer’s festival, Albert Brooks took shots at the low-brow comedian in front of an audience and Sandler buddy Norm Macdonald.I can understand where Brooks is coming from. If I was as funny and as great a writer as he is, I’d be a little put back when a film like The Waterboy grosses more than all of Brooks’ efforts combined. But The Waterboy is at the low spectrum of Sandler star vehicles. It was a one-joke movie with a one-joke character that added up to repetitive scenes that got less and less funny. But his other films were better. I particularly enjoy both Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer and even Billy Madison has its moments. One of the trademark Sandler jokes is that he’ll say things to characters that audience members occasionally are thinking but would never say to another human being and that makes it funny. Some things can get old and Adam Sandler may never reach the wide appeal that Jim Carrey has. But he’s here to stay. Albert Brooks may ask why but audiences do not. It’s probably due to the sweet underdog factor that comes off in his pseudo-performances. There’s nothing really different from Sonny Koufax in this film and Happy Gilmore except perhaps the rage is a little toned down, but the sweetness factor is there. This factor, which came off best in The Wedding Singer, makes Sandler what he is – an overgrown child and that’s why the women root for him. Maybe us males like the rage factors in his characters. Or maybe, both male and females alike, just like to laugh at unbelievable and stupid behavior. Yeah – I think it’s funny when a rollerblader trips over sticks – sabotaged or whatever – even if Ebert does not. Isn’t that one of the reasons America’s Funniest Home Videos is still on the air? I laugh when Sandler takes on snotty elitists like the McDonalds customer who butts in to say “Nice parenting.” I laughed and laughed rather often during Big Daddy which ranks alongside Gilmore and Wedding Singer as pure fun. One may question Sandler’s influence on the child early in the film (Ebert wants him reported to Child Welfare), but part of the movie is Sandler learning to be a better parent, which he does. The courtroom scene at the end of the film gets a little ridiculous for its own good, but still contained one big laugh for me. I also wish the film had more Jon Stewart in it. He has an early scene in the film with a line so dryly delivered, it’s real and perfect. Unfortunately the script calls for him to be in China for the middle 70 minutes of the film and that’s a shame because him and Sandler play well together. Joey Lauren Adams is the token girlfriend. Kristy Swanson is the early girlfriend whose big scene is walking around in her red bra. The kid (played by twins) couldn’t evoke more “Awwwww’s” from the female demographic if Industrial Light and Magic was involved. Rob Schneider makes the most of his scenes and what would a Sandler film be without a cameo by Steve Buscemi?Critics should know this film isn’t Chaplin’s The Kid and the bottom line is I’m not going to be able to convince non-Sandler fans to like him or his movies. It’s impossible. What I can do is tell the Sandler fans whether or not they are going to laugh at Big Daddy. The answer is undeniably – Yes.