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Little Nicky

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Little Nicky

Starring: Sdam Sandler, Patricia Arquette
Director: Steven Brill
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 84 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genre: Comedy


*Also starring: Rhys Ifans, Harvey Keitel, Tiny Lister, Jr., Dana Carvey, Rodney Dangerfield, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Robert Smigel, Quentin Tarantino



Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Steven Brill's LITTLE NICKY, starring box office champ Adam Sandler as Little Nicky, is a surprise in more ways than one. Starting off abysmally bad, it manages to atone for its early sins and turn into a very funny comedy. The credit for the success of its humor falls on a superlative supporting cast and a director who manages to coax the most out of each of them. The special effects and the humorous sets add immensely to the revelry. One wickedly funny scene features hundreds of charging spiders with Adam Sandler faces, la THE FLY.

The negative surprise is that, with raunchy humor like a cross between AUSTIN POWERS and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, LITTLE NICKY is a PG-13 comedy that would have been more appropriately rated R -- more on some of the reasons why later.

The story has Little Nicky's Dad (Harvey Keitel), a.k.a. the Devil, literally falling apart after his two other sons, Adrian (Rhys Ifans, NOTTING HILL) and CASSIUS (Tommy Lister) escape to Earth. Unless Nicky can bring them both back home to Hades, Dad will slowly disintegrate like the Cheshire cat, leaving only his frown behind. Rodney Dangerfield, in one of many hilarious cameos, plays Lucifer, Dad's dad. (Quentin Tarantino, in another of the film's wild and wacky cameos, plays a blind preacher.)

Sandler plays his usual stupid character, only stupider this time. A bulldog named Beefy serves as his guide in New York City where Nicky's brothers have gone to wreak chaos worthy of Batman's villains. With lovable crudeness, the spike-collared dog tells it like it is. Beefy's girlfriend is a sewer rat.

As Nicky's groupies, two stoner dudes and devil worshipers, Peter (Peter Dante) and John (Jonathan Loughran), follow him wherever he goes. Patricia Arquette, as Nicky's sweetness-and-light girlfriend, provides the perfect complement to a story brimming with wickedness.

Although a cogent case could be made for Beefy's being the best part of the movie, my vote would go to Reese Witherspoon (ELECTION and PLEASANTVILLE), who plays an angel named Holly. After setting most of the film in either hell or New York City -- yes, you can tell the difference -- the story switches briefly to visit a heaven that looks like a parody of the Robin Williams film, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. Holly is the reigning teen princess in the land of the eternally juvenile. Witherspoon, an extremely intelligent actress who usually plays control freaks, is a ditzy Valley girl type this time. She plays wonderfully against type, and her every word and gesture had me in stitches.

The level of sexual humor and language should have gotten the film an R rating. The movie opens with a peeping tom (Jon Lovitz) in a tree, spying on a woman getting undressed in her bedroom. This causes him to go straight to hell, literally. Other stronger bits of crude humor include a transvestite (Clint Howard) getting his kicks from hot wax on his nipples, Hitler (Christopher Carroll) in a frilly dress being tortured by having pineapples shoved up his rear and Hell's Gatekeeper (Kevin Nealon) being punished by having breasts grow out of his head.

From the angels we get the inside scoop on God's brain power. "God is so smart!" says one angel. "Like Jeopardy smart!" adds another. And LITTLE NICKY, for all of its coarseness, is a surprisingly smart comedy. It's the first Adam Sandler film that I've ever recommended. (I could almost recommend THE WEDDING SINGER.) But, as I said, it is the ensemble cast, not Sandler himself, that makes LITTLE NICKY sizzle.

LITTLE NICKY runs 1:28. It is officially rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, some drug content, language and thematic material, but, as I said, I think an R would have been more appropriate. Depending on the kid, the movie would be acceptable for kids around 12 or 13, and up but take in account my previously mentioned examples.

My son Jeffrey, age 11, thought the movie was pretty good and gave it ** 1/2. His favorite character was the bulldog. His friend John, age 12, thought the film was a really good comedy and gave it *** 1/2. His favorite character was Dad's dad. John's twin, Steven, thought it was really funny and gave it ***. His favorite characters were the stoner dudes. All of the boys commented that the film should have been rated R.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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