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Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
"Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights" takes almost as long to say its
protracted title as it does to watch the 71-minute feature. The film
is curious for a number of reasons, and unsuccessful because of them.
His very first animated vehicle (brightly and attractively animated,
at that), the picture has Adam Sandler's (2002's "Mr. Deeds") brand
of raunchy humor involving drugs, sex, flatulence, and fecal matter,
but the way its story is told is more targeted to children. Meanwhile,
the movie seems to be holding itself back at every turn, in order
to get a sacred PG-13 rating. The confusion over a target audience
leaves no target audience to be had, save for die-hard fans of the comedian.
Davey Stone (voiced by Adam Sandler) is a 33-year-old goofball who
gets into hot water after a drunken and disorderly charge. Set over
the eight days of Hanukkah, the Jewish Davey faces the prospect of
spending the holidays homeless (following an act of arson on his trailer
home), all the while attempting to finally come to terms with a childhood
tragedy that claimed the lives of his parents. The one townsperson
who does firmly believe in the goodness within Davey is kindly 70-year-old
basketball coach Whitey Duvall (Adam Sandler), who has several valuable
lessons to teach about the importance of the holiday season.
Notable for being the only movie in memory to revolve around Hanukkah
rather than Christmas, "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights," directed
by Seth Kearsley, is an occasional charmer, but more often too busy
in rehashing tired jokes to fully take off. The message it wishes
to send out to viewers, that the only way to move forward positively
in life is to recognize and learn from your mistakes, is naively innocent,
yet presumptuous. Heartfelt moments of truth do not fit, no matter
how masterfully they are orchestrated, when mixed with humor involving
three-breasted ladies and an unfortunate human encounter with a feces-infested
The screenplay, based on a story created by Adam Sandler and credited
to Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, and Brad Isaacs, wants to be both
outrageous and satirical, but it is not as subjectively sturdy or
as courageous as 1999's R-rated "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut."
The comedic bombardment of product placement (rare for an animated
film) and the wackily original musical numbers (all sung well by Sandler)
are its two major strong spots; without them, the picture would be
nearly laughless. Added fun comes in picking out the voices of the
assortment of involved actors (Sandler plays four roles, including
a female lead, while regulars Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz, and Kevin
Nealon show up in briefer parts).
The lead of Davey Stone, a typical Sandler character who even looks
like him, is too unpleasant to win our hearts, while the holiday in
question isn't as affectionately displayed as it could have been.
When all is said and done, "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights" could
have afforded another rewrite and a willingness to avoid pandering
to the MPAA ratings board. Ultimately, watching it is a divergent
experience that alienates adults for being so slight and immature,
and isn't suitable for children. There is some worthwhile material,
to be sure, but the film doesn't try hard enough in the long run to be satisfying.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman