Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr., Reese Witherspoon, Rodney Dangerfield, Quentin Tarantino, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Carl Weathers, Michael McKean, Rob Schneider, Clint Howard, Laura Harring, Regis Philbin, Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Winkler
Written by: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler, Steve Brill
Directed by: Steven Brill
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual humor, some drug content, language and thematic material
Running Time: 84
Date: 11/02/2000

Little Nicky (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I have a feeling that no one really likes Adam Sandler. I think people consider him like a crazy person in the street that they walk by every day, and every day they're interested to see what he'll do next. How much more annoying can he be?

The answer is in his new film, Little Nicky; pretty darn annoying. Sandler plays Nicky, the son of the devil (Harvey Keitel) and the daughter of an angel (Reese Witherspoon). He has two brothers (Rhys Ifans and Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.), both of whom are looking to take over the throne of Hell. But the devil decides he wants to continue to rule, sending the two brothers up to Earth where they commence making it a Hell of their own. Nicky then has only a few days to stop them before his father deteriorates.

While on Earth, Nicky keeps getting hit by trucks and trains and going back to Hell. He also falls in love with an Earth girl (Patricia Arquette) and develops a following consisting of his pseudo-gay actor roommate, two metal-head Satan-worshippers, and a talking dog (voiced by Robert Smigel).

Most of this is funnier in concept than it is in execution. I don't know why, but I just wasn't laughing that much. Perhaps because the humor is so obviously aimed at 13 year-olds and every joke is told to us as well as shown, just in case we don't get it. (Even when I WAS 13 years old I wasn't into dumb movies like this.)

Still, Little Nicky is far from the worst movie I've seen this year (it doesn't even crack my "worst list" this year which currently contains 18 titles). It gets by on the cred it earns from its many cool cameos, including Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Winkler, and Regis Philbin as themselves; and Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, Michael McKean, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz, and the Harlem Globetrotters. Not to mention that Witherspoon (as usual) nails her role so hard that she manages to convert her five minutes of screen time into cinema Heaven (pardon). When she answers a little cell phone that barks, she happily squeals, "puppy phone! That's so cute!" and makes it work.

Which brings us back to my original assumption. Does anyone really like Adam Sandler, or were all these stars called in by the lure of easy box-office? After all, Sandler's last two movies The Waterboy and Big Daddy grossed huge money without even trying. And it's not like anyone works very hard on these movies (except maybe the set designers who built Hell). Maybe they thought it would be fun. Too bad they never stopped to consider whether we were having any fun. The sad thing is that so many people have set their standards so low that they actually are.

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