"Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights" takes almost as long to say its protracted title as it does to watch the 71-minute feature. The film is curious for a number of reasons, and unsuccessful because of them. His very first animated vehicle (brightly and attractively animated, at that), the picture has Adam Sandler's (2002's "Mr. Deeds
") brand of raunchy humor involving drugs, sex, flatulence, and fecal matter, but the way its story is told is more targeted to children. Meanwhile, the movie seems to be holding itself back at every turn, in order to get a sacred PG-13 rating. The confusion over a target audience leaves no target audience to be had, save for die-hard fans of the comedian.
Davey Stone (voiced by Adam Sandler) is a 33-year-old goofball who gets into hot water after a drunken and disorderly charge. Set over the eight days of Hanukkah, the Jewish Davey faces the prospect of spending the holidays homeless (following an act of arson on his trailer home), all the while attempting to finally come to terms with a childhood tragedy that claimed the lives of his parents. The one townsperson who does firmly believe in the goodness within Davey is kindly 70-year-old basketball coach Whitey Duvall (Adam Sandler), who has several valuable lessons to teach about the importance of the holiday season.
Notable for being the only movie in memory to revolve around Hanukkah rather than Christmas, "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights," directed by Seth Kearsley, is an occasional charmer, but more often too busy in rehashing tired jokes to fully take off. The message it wishes to send out to viewers, that the only way to move forward positively in life is to recognize and learn from your mistakes, is naively innocent, yet presumptuous. Heartfelt moments of truth do not fit, no matter how masterfully they are orchestrated, when mixed with humor involving three-breasted ladies and an unfortunate human encounter with a feces-infested portable toilet.
The screenplay, based on a story created by Adam Sandler and credited to Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, and Brad Isaacs, wants to be both outrageous and satirical, but it is not as subjectively sturdy or as courageous as 1999's R-rated "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
." The comedic bombardment of product placement (rare for an animated film) and the wackily original musical numbers (all sung well by Sandler) are its two major strong spots; without them, the picture would be nearly laughless. Added fun comes in picking out the voices of the assortment of involved actors (Sandler plays four roles, including a female lead, while regulars Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz, and Kevin Nealon show up in briefer parts).
The lead of Davey Stone, a typical Sandler character who even looks like him, is too unpleasant to win our hearts, while the holiday in question isn't as affectionately displayed as it could have been. When all is said and done, "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights" could have afforded another rewrite and a willingness to avoid pandering to the MPAA ratings board. Ultimately, watching it is a divergent experience that alienates adults for being so slight and immature, and isn't suitable for children. There is some worthwhile material, to be sure, but the film doesn't try hard enough in the long run to be satisfying.
©2002 by Dustin Putman