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LITTLE NICKY

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Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, Rodney Dangerfield
Director: Steven Brill
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 84 Minutes
Release Date: April 24, 2001

Film ***1/2

No, there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, I am really giving this movie a ***1/2 average.

We at the DMC have a tendency to surprise. I, for one, have written numerous reviews for several movies that I found to be more than unfairly panned or unseen at the theaters. If you don’t believe me, see our reviews for Mission to Mars, The 6th Day, and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. In other words, we give passes to several movies that were either critically bashed or simply don’t fall into the category of quality cinema. Such is the case of Adam Sandler’s latest outing, Little Nicky, which will perhaps top the lists as the most suprising review on the site.

The movie, as far as I could tell, was Sandler’s most critically panned movie to date, and his movies usually get their share of pans. For the most part, I have enjoyed many of Adam Sandler’s movies, with the exception of The Waterboy, and my favorite of all his films has always been The Wedding Singer. Little Nicky was a total surprise for me. Some friends of mine lured me to the theater for a midnight showing, and I was afraid the movie was going to be excruciatingly bad, but to my surprise, it was one of the most intense laugh fests I had in a while. The movie is strictly for die-hard fans, as well as the kind of audience who understands the humor, which is in the spirit of such other Sandler movies as Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, with a little twist on the typical moronic character he portrays.

Who can’t resist the introduction to Sandler’s character, Nicky, who is first seen rockin’ and dancin’ in his room to Van Halen’s Running With the Devil. Nicky, one of three sons of Satan (Harvey Keitel), is the most polite and also the most simple minded. Like he did in The Waterboy, Sandler dons a whiny lisp of an accent, which was excruciating to endure in that film, but his voice for Nicky fitted the comedy tone perfectly. Nicky’s older, much more evil siblings are Adrian (Rhys Ifans) and Cassius (Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr.), who are anxiously awaiting their father’s official retirement as the prince of darkness after 10,000 years. When Satan announces to his sons that he will in fact not retire, Nicky’s brothers are outraged and conceive a plan to escape Hades and destroy as many souls on earth as they possibly can. They leave their hellish home, and in the process freezing the gates of hell, preventing any more souls from entering, and causing Satan himself to fall apart, literally. This leaves hell with only one option, send the idiot out to capture his brothers and bring them back home.

This brings him to New York City, which Nicky will soon find to be more frightening than his own home. After a couple of hilarious mishaps involving head on collisions with subways and buses, Nicky is given proper guidance through the city in the form of a speaking bulldog named Mr. Beefy, who gives Nicky tips on how such various obstacles as asking questions and chewing food. He also learns how to use the evil powers within him, which result in an ability to change a Coke to a Pepsi. He also comes across a sweet soul named Valerie (Patricia Arquette), who becomes his closest friend and sweetheart. Nicky, on occasion, will say something revolting in her presence, but he then explains to her that the devil made him do it.

The central plot of Little Nicky might not seem very funny, but it doesn’t matter because the laughs come from numerous subplots. Such a moment is the riotous opening sequence involving Jon Lovitz as a relentless peeping tom who falls to hell from a tree after being smacked by a rock, and is given severe punishment by way of a horny crow. Another funny scene is where Nicky reveals to his new roommate that the music of the group Chicago is actually the work of the devil when played backwards. And the climax is especially hysterical, as it includes a cameo from no less than Ozzy Osbourne, who comes to Nicky’s assistance in battling his bad brothers. There are also some surprise pop-up appearences from Reese Witherspoon, Rodney Dangerfield, Quentin Tarantino, Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, Dan Marino and the return of two characters from two other Adam Sandler comedies. Carl Weathers returns as Chubbs Peterson from Happy Gilmore, and Rob Schneider makes a brief return as the “you-can-do-it” guy from The Waterboy.

In the end, I guess you either have to be either a strict Sandler fan, or simply in the mood for comedy like this, but I’ve seen it three times now, and have laughed hysterically on each viewing. There are memorable comedies with witty stories such as Meet the Parents, and then there’s an occasional slapstick fest, which is cheerfully stupid and outrageously funny, and Little Nicky is definitely that in a nutshell.

Video ****

Yet another illustration of why New Line is one of the best DVD distributors ever. A superb addition to the studio’s Platinum Series. The picture image is sharp and bright for the entire presentation. Colors are vibrantly lively and very well defined. Print is consistently clean and deprived of any grain or soft, hazy imagery. A pure quality job from a true quality studio.

Audio ****

A remarkable job that proves even New Line has the ability to apply supreme sound quality to even a comedy. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track provides a wonderful presentation, complete with terrific music pick-up, as well as that of numerous sound effects that are abound in the movie. A strikingly great job for a very outrageous movie!

Features ****

The hallmark of loaded DVDs has long been the Platinum Series from New Line, and their package for Little Nicky is a sure fire candidate for one of the best all-around discs of this year. A knockout of a disc, including two entertaining and hysterical commentaries, which includes a track with comments by Adam Sandler, director Steven Brill and co-writer Tim Herlihy, each of whom are upbeat with sarcasm and laughs. The second track includes commentary from an array of supporting cast players, led by Michael McKean and also featuring Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne and others as well. Also featured are a deleted scenes compilation, two documentaries: Adam Sandler Goes to Hell, a behind the scenes look at the making of the film, and Satan’s Top Forty, which features interviews with Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Ronnie James Dio and more. Plus a music video for P.O.D.’s song “School of Hard Knocks”, and a theatrical trailer. This is one disc that is sure to keep you occupied for an evening’s time.

Summary:

Little Nicky is a true guilty pleasure that I proudly admit enjoying. Not a thought provoking motion picture at all, but a guaranteed chuckle-a-minute enterprise that I rank among Adam Sandler’s absolute best projects.