A Film Review By Michael Haley
|Rating:PG-13 for some language, sexual humor and naughtiness.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, Tyra Banks.
Directed By:Seth Kearsley
Not too long ago, Adam Sandler ventured out onto a new frontier with Punchdrunk Love (ignore my C+ grade I gave it at the time…I must have been drunk. B definitely), and only a month later, here comes the good old Sandler that some of us love, in animated form. He also has a side job of recording comedy c.d.’s, and in this movie, he gets to do both…he provides the voices and songs, and the overworked and underage animators in Asia get to take care of the rest. Now I love Adam Sandler and all, but after Mr. Deeds, it’s becoming apparent that his usual shtick is starting to wear a little thin. Does this film live up to his old charm? Not really, but it has fun trying.
Sandler stars as Davey, the town drunk, meanie, and all around asshole. Due to a court order, he is forced to serve as a youth basketball coach (something the movie forgets about one scene) under the watchful eye of Wighty, a four foot tall, eighty-something year old senile man. This goes down during the eight “crazy” nights of Hanukah, if that really matters (I’m told I would see more in this movie if I was Jewish, which is good for them because I don’t see much of anything as I am now).
Pardon me, I made the movie sound like Ballistic, and rest assured, it’s nowhere near that level. There are some hearty chuckles to be had here, and a few moments are truly hilarious and inspired, such as the scene where Whitey makes a long rhyme out every store that advertises itself in the mall (and movie). The reindeer may be cute but not at all cuddly, and Whitey, although obnoxious quite often, has his moments in the sun (or shall we say ice, poopsicle?)
If nothing else, the one reason to see this movie if for its soundtrack (or better yet, go see Solaris and buy the soundtrack for this one). The songs, sung by Sandler as well, rock. I can’t remember the title at the moment (but it goes bum diddy bum bum) is worthy as a stand alone regardless of the specific humor of the song, and gives the movie more weight dramatically and theatrically, than it deserves. The third installment of the Hanukah song is a treat as well, especially the bit about Brando, and the song “That’s a Technical Foul” is downright ludicrous, but I have to admit, inventive.
Still, I have my reservations about the film…for every one joke that made me laugh uncontrollably there was five more that didn’t do anything for me at all. One can only hear so many dick and fart jokes before one gets bored, and as far as dick and fart jokes go, this film has many. The persona that Adam Sandler has played for eight or so movies now (and deconstructed well in Punchdrunk Love) is back once again, and doesn’t do much to surprise us. His next, entitled Anger Management looks to be a more comedic, Sandlerized version of Barry Egan, his Punchdrunk Love character, so there is hope he extends his range (just so that his roles from here on out aren’t all Barry Egans). At this point, Sandler’s old-made-new again material is simply getting tiresome, and he needs something new, and fast.
Also, the movie is way too mean-spirited to be nice, and too nice to be mean-spirited. I mean was it really necessary to shove Whitey down a hill while he’s in an outhouse and than freeze him? If this wasn’t a cartoon, Whitey would’ve been dead…that’s not funny, that’s downright macabre (I love macabre humor and all, but it doesn’t work for this film). It’s other equally tasteless jokes as this that cements Davey as an asshole, and when he does turn himself around, it seems artificial (although not as artificial as the world of The Emperor’s Club). It’s like they tacked on a happy ending to have one, when the material is much darker and meaner spirited in nature. The film would have been a lot more effective, not to mention funnier, had they stuck with one vein and ran with it, instead of trying to straddle both.
Overall, Eight Crazy Nights isn’t really horrible, but average. I don’t reward mediocrity like The Mike and the other guy who thinks he’s a critic, but you could still do a lot worse. For an Adam Sandler movie, you pretty much get what you come for. If you previously weren’t a fan, this won’t win you over, but you won’t demand ninety minutes of your time back…maybe forty or so, but not ninety.