"Big Daddy is about a single guy who all of a sudden has a kid in his life, completely and unexpectedly," says producer Sid Ganis
"Big Daddy is about a single guy
who all of a sudden has a kid in his life, completely and unexpectedly,"
says producer Sid Ganis. "He has to deal with what it means
to have a child as an absolute part of his existence. He experiences
the fun, the confusion, the fear and ultimately the joy of having
a father-son relationship."
It was Ganis who initially came across the original screenplay
for Big Daddy, which was penned by young Los Angeles writer
Steve Franks. Ganis, himself a father of four, thought that the
premise of the parent-child relationship was universal. It was
also one of the many reasons why he liked the project and wanted
it to be the debut film for his newly established production company.
Who better than Adam Sandler to expand on this idea of what happens
when a disciple of the single-guy lifestyle comes face-to-face
with the challenges of parenthood. With longtime writing partner
Tim Herlihy, who co-wrote The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer,
Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison with him, Sandler fleshed
out the story, adding layers, subplots and an array of colorful
yet down-to-earth characters to the original concept of a single
guy who suddenly has a kid in his life. The team's unique brand
of humor was ever-present as the dynamics of the relationship
between Sonny and Julian played out.
When approaching the writing process, Herlihy and Sandler both
drew from what was familiar to them. "A lot of the stuff
comes from our families," says Sandler. "A lot of what
Sonny Koufax does with his kid is what my dad used to do with
me." For example, Julian's Scuba Steve toy is based on the
Diver Dan doll Sandler cherished as a child. "I lost my Diver
Dan doll," says Sandler. "So my dad dressed up as Diver
Dan's father and came to the front door. He said the doll was
with him now, but 'thanks for watching him while he grew up.'
My dad would do anything to make his kid feel better, so we put
a similar situation in the movie."
At the heart of Sonny's seemingly unconventional lifestyle and
unique child-rearing philosophy is the relationship with his own
father, a no-nonsense attorney who set high standards for his
son. Producer Jack Giarraputo, who served as producer on such
widely popular Sandler films as The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer
and Happy Gilmore, felt that the script offered a great
opportunity to explore these facets of parenthood,
particularly since Sonny compares his father's parenting skills
against his own skewed approach with Julian. "Basically,
Sonny thinks about what his parents did wrong and tries to do
the opposite," says Giarraputo.
Sandler agrees. "In the movie, Sonny feels like he's had
a strained relationship with his daddy. And so he feels like,
'I'll take the opposite approach with my kid and the kid will
turn out wonderful.'"
Unlike the eternal adolescents that he portrayed in films like
Billy Madison and The Waterboy, Sandler takes on
a character in Big Daddy who, while more grown-up, still
retains hints of the underdog the actor has perfected in previous
outings. But Sandler rejects the notion that the movie reflects
a 'matured' Adam Sandler. "I guess it's more grown-up because
I'm 32 now. But it's just our next movie. I'm an actor, so I'm
doing a different role."
Giarraputo is quick to point out that Sonny is not an aimless
loser but an intelligent guy who,
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