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With: (voices) Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Austin Stout, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider, Norm Crosby, Tyra Banks, Carl Weathers, Lainie Kazan
Written by: Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, Brad Isaacs, Adam Sandler
Directed by: Seth Kearsley
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references
Language:
Running Time: 76
Date: 26/11/2002
IMDB

Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

1 Star (out of 4)

Hanukah Turkey

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights on DVD

Even while the sweet, sublime Punch-Drunk Love lingers in our memories (and in theaters), Adam Sandler can't resist slapping us with a reminder of why we hated him in the first place. Sandler's new animated "holiday" film, Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, represents the worst kind of comic instincts, the most cynical view of humanity and the most disgusting plea for attention, ever. The film begins with a drunken Davey Stone (voiced by Sandler) slurping down dragon bowls at the local Chinese restaurant. It's the first night of Hanukkah, and he's vainly trying to forget all about it. While trying to unlock his car, the cops stop him, thus beginning the opening chase scene -- accompanied by a musical number all about how horrid Davey is and how much he hates everyone. While Ebeneezer Scrooge felt authentically grumpy -- his wealth made him that way -- he never felt beyond the reaches of humanity, as Davey does.

On the verge of doing 10 years in jail, the local boys' club basketball coach, Whitey (also voiced by Sandler, in a highly annoying high-pitched whine), comes to his rescue. If Whitey can get Davey to behave like a human being, the looming sentence will be dropped. But that's a tall order. Davey begins by flipping Whitey the bird and ends by pushing him downhill in a Port-O-Let full of human waste. Davey then turns a hose on Whitey, transforming him, as the water freezes, into into a living dirt-colored snowman. Whitey is a 4-foot-tall hairy little dwarf who pays nothing but kindness to the townspeople and receives nothing but teasing and grief in return. He lives with his equally weird twin sister, Eleanore (also voiced by Sandler, in an even higher-pitched, more annoying whine), and enjoys his daily routines, like soaking his feet and reading Short and Goofy Quarterly. Sandler invites us to make fun of Whitey, and every other resident of this small snowy town. Each of them feels homegrown from Sandler's warped psyche. He invents a woman with three breasts as a "joke" for the lyrics of one song, then brings her back three or four times for more "jokes." But Sandler wants us to know that he has a heart, too. Davey's parents died on the first night of Hanukkah when he was a kid and he has never cried. His redemption comes when he goes to the mall and the advertising icons leap down off their perches, coaxing him to open his heart. (The Foot Locker guy seems to be the ringleader.) Not even Steven Spielberg has dreamed up such blatant and sickening product placement in a movie.

Of course, we have a girl, voiced by Jackie Titone, who falls in love with the newly reformed Davey, but she's barely even a character. She's a single mother who comes complete with a son, Benjamin (Austin Stout). Davey wins Benjamin over easily with his skills on the basketball court -- another disgustingly vain attempt on Sandler's part to show us how unbearably cool he is. As an animated character, he's literally good enough to take on Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, and maybe even the Harlem Globetrotters, combined. Sandler's tragic neuroses are typical of generations of comics with low self-esteem who want to show that they can change the world -- the "weeping clown" syndrome. Nearly every great comic has succumbed to it, from Charlie Chaplin to Jerry Lewis to Steve Martin to Robin Williams to Roberto Benigni with his Life Is Beautiful. But Sandler mixes this feel-good goop with the most vomit-inducing humor he can dream up, from Davey making love to the back end of a car to reindeer dropping feces everywhere. We know that Sandler possesses good comic instincts, as he has proved in Punch-Drunk Love and in his brilliantly funny "The Hanukah Song," on which this movie is supposedly based.

Perhaps the animation -- the only really smooth part about Eight Crazy Nights -- threw off his timing. He doesn't even get anywhere close to what made "The Hanukah Song" funny, and the film barely even mentions anything to do with the holiday. Even the version of the song that plays during the closing credits was recorded live and is barely audible. The main problem is that the snide, egomaniacal Sandler cannot for the life of him pull off the earnest stuff at the end of this movie. We hate him before he changes and we don't believe him after he changes. Sandler co-wrote this screenplay and all of its dubious musical numbers. Perhaps this is a comic who needs to be tautly leashed by a talented writer-director like Paul Thomas Anderson. On his own, he runs right over a cliff.

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