8 CRAZY NIGHTS
Director: Seth Kearsly
Cast: The voices of Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Austin Stout, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz
MPAA Rating: (for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references)
Running Time: 1:11
Release Date: 11/27/02
Review by Mark Dujsik
Thereís only one endearing character in 8 Crazy Nights, and heís the butt of a large majority of the movieís jokes. His name is Whitey, a little, seventy-some-year-old man, covered in a coat of white hair, with one foot much larger than the other, and a scratchy squeak of a voice provided by Adam Sandler. After his performance in Punch-Drunk Love, I was prepared to give Sandler a shot, but this isnít the best kind of follow-up. With 8 Crazy Nights, Sandler makes a return to the kind of stupid, nihilistic gross-out comedies that made him famousóthe kind I never liked to begin with. The Sandler comedy has become a formula. It starts with Sandlerís character displaying his antisocial behavior, finding himself placed in a situation outside his element, causing a big problem, showing some change of heart, and ultimately learning a lesson. The only difference here is that the movie is animated and has a holiday theme, a combination that gives it the false appearance of a family film. Itís definitely not made for kids or their parents, for that matter, and I think even fans of Sandlerís comic taste may find it uninteresting.
Davey Stone (also voiced by Sandler) is your typical holiday curmudgeon. A thirty-three-year-old loser who still acts like a schoolyard bully, Stone is especially ornery around Chanukah, and this year, he has a display of public drunkenness that breaks a whole lot of laws and leaves the townís Christmas and Chanukah giant ice sculptures devastated. This isnít the first time for Davey, but in the spirit of the holidays, the judge in his case decides to give him one more chance. It comes in the form of Whitey, who tells the judge he will take Davey on as an assistant coach for the youth basketball league. Davey isnít cut out for the job, and he isnít too happy with it. Daveyís behavior continues, but of course, he has a soft side. He helps out a young kid named Benjamin (voice of Austin Stout) who just happens to be the son of Daveyís childhood sweetheart Jennifer (voice of Jackie Titone). And then, of course, a series of events propel Davey to start living with Whitey and his fraternal twin sister Eleanore (again voiced by Sandler).
Sandler comedies are generally identified by their mean-spirited humor, and 8 Crazy Nights is no exception. Whitey in particular (although no character is really safe) is subject to a wide range of ridicule and abuse. By the turning point in the movie, the tone shifts, and we get the obligatory moral of the story. The lesson: Whitey shouldnít be made fun of because heís different or because of the way he is. So why did the movie spend so much time mocking him and egging the audience on to laugh at him? Doesnít this cheapen and diminish the lesson? At one point, the movie turns dreadfully serious as we learn the reason behind Daveyís behavior. And of all the possible justifications, the screenwriters (four of them, including Sandler) make it the most manipulative one possible, as if to say, ďIf you donít sympathize with Davey and accept his actions after what happened to him, youíre an uncaring, heartless person.Ē Iíll accept such a turn, but why is it in this movie? Itís completely out of place. And why is Davey forced to accept his past by living company logos (by far the strangest piece of product placement Iíve ever seen)?
The movie has a few somewhat bright spots, but they come and go pretty quickly. Jon Lovitz has an amusing, late cameo appearance as a man with a hook for a hand. There a bits of absurdity spread throughout, especially near the end, which Iím not sure I found funny because they were funny on their own right or because theyíre a change of pace from the rest of the movie. Oddest of all are a group of deer who help Whitey out of some difficult situations, even if it means licking him free of being frozen and covered in the contents of a portable toilet (yeah, itís pretty disgusting). The things that should work are generally misfires. The animation, in particular, is crude and of very low quality. Finally, the movie attempts to satirize the animated musical formula with some off-beat songs, but even these are simple and forgettable.Once all was said and done, I was left with one lingering question: Who is 8 Crazy Nights made for? Itís far too crude and mean for kids. People who typically like Sandlerís comedies will probably find late events sappy and the concept of an animated Sandler movie rather childish (and considering Sandlerís brand of humor, that seems odd), and audiences with more mature tastes who avoid this kind of thing wonít see it anyway. So if this turns out to be true, the movie wonít find an audience and stuff like this wonít be made. Iíll consider it an early holiday gift if that happens.
Copyright © 2002 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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