..

ADAM SANDLER'S
EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon
Director: Seth Kearsley
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 76 Minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2003

"Chanukah is the Festival of Lights. One day of presents--hell no--we get eight craaazy nights."

Film ***

Adam Sandler has become one of the top successful comedy stars of his generation. In fact, he's probably the biggest next to Jim Carrey. The likes of Sandler venturing into the foray of the animated movie might seem likely to induce some head scratching. However, all you have to remember is that both Sandler and his humor are, in a weird way, animated.

Eight Crazy Nights is not the sort of holiday movie fare you should compare with the likes of A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life. It engages the spirit of the holidays very much, but it also happens to be one to include large doses of crude humor, all of which is funny. This ranks it more in the league of Bill Murray's Scrooged and especially Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation, which remains of my all time favorite holiday comedies.

The story tells of the celebration of Chanukah in the quiet little town of Dukesberry. Chanukah is indeed a special time of the year, but it is intensely despised by Davey Stone (voiced by Sandler). Davey is, as described by the story's narrator (Rob Schneider) as "a 33 year old crazy Jewish guy", and has had a long history of performing embarrassing numbers in public during the season, which is mostly due to drunkenness.

Upon Davey's latest offense, the judge is ready to send him to jail, but at the request of the elderly and kindly Whitey Duvall (also voiced by Sandler), Davey's punishment is reduced to community service work, which is refereeing children's basketball games at the local church. Davey, of course, isn't too thrilled about his current disposition and continues to remain a cruel and offending individual.

Whitey, a long time pillar of the community, feels obligated to make Davey change his ways. When Davey comes home one night to find his trailer on fire, Whitey welcomes him to his home, where he and his twin sister, Eleanore (also voiced by Sandler, and one that you simply have to hear) have lived almost all their lives. Needless to say, Davey makes their lives a living hell in an instant.

The movie also happens to include some seriously funny musical numbers. The funniest of which is the song "Technical Foul", a song where Whitey lays down the rules of the house to Davey, where the breaking of any of the set rules considered as such.  And a song towards the end of the film titled simply, "Bum Biddy" is likely to have you in stitches. The songs have a way sneaking their funny bits up on you, even if the film hits a sentimental moment, which is much appreciated.

Eight Crazy Nights is an unapologetic crudely funny holiday animated tale, which also happens to be terrifically animated. It's unsure whether Sandler will try out future animation projects, but for the moment this one remains a memorable holiday time entry.

Video ****

Many of us, including myself, have recently gotten use to enjoying the thrill of watching computer animated films on DVD, such as the joyous Finding Nemo, but Columbia Tri Star's transfer of this traditionally drawn animated feature reminds us that the old fashioned way can look pretty darn good, too. The anamorphic presentation (a full screen version is also included) is virtually and outstandingly flawless, with arrays of beautiful colorizations and image detail. CTS, to the best of my knowledge, haven't really had a big animated release in theaters or on DVD, so for that, the DVD handling of Eight Crazy Nights is delightful first on their part.

Audio ****

Quite an outstanding listen! This 5.1 track gets its primary audio juice from two specific areas; the assorted physical comedy and the hilarious musical numbers. But in just about every single moment of the presentation, the range seems to be strongly split up among the channels, providing some very wonderful sound quality. A most terrific job from CTS.

Features ****

Columbia Tri Star has delivered the double disc goods with this nicely feature-packed release.

Disc one includes two commentary tracks; one with screenwriter Allen Covert and the characters Whitey and Eleanore (a hugely funny listen), and one with Adam Sandler director Seth Kearsley. Also featured on Disc One is a music video for "The Chanukah Song Part 3", a short film titled "A Day with Meatball", an Eight Crazy Nights TV spot for the NBA, and a trailer gallery.

Disc Two contains an endless assortment of goodies located in an interactive map of Dukesberry. Among them you will find an HBO making of special, nine featurettes focusing on individual characters and their creation, a multi angle animation progression, and some deleted scenes with optional commentary.

Summary:

Though Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights is clearly no Punch-Drunk Love, it is a wildly funny and engaging animated comedy that, for my money, is a welcome entry into the holiday movie season line-up.