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IN SHORT: The usual fratboy humor, with killer gags saved for the end. [Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, some drug content, language and thematic material. 90 minutes]
Teen readers always dissmail Cranky to ask why we hate Adam Sandler. A little footwork through our archives would show that we only hate Adam Sandler about half the time. We liked The Waterboy and loved The Wedding Singer, but hated Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy (though the latter has grown on us once we started seeing it on the small screen). The new SandlerFlick, Little Nicky, moves quickly and dispenses a gentler fratboy humor than usual. Then, in its closing minutes it delivers a one - two punch that had Cranky bursting at the seams.
If we were fifteen, we'd say we could've pissed ourselves, which would be in keeping with a lot of the humor in Little Nicky. But we're not so we won't. <g>
No, Cranky hates Adam Sandler because we can't even hint at what the best gags are, 'cuz the climax of the movie rests upon it. We won't spill the surprise -- even when we actively hate a flick, which isn't the case with Sandler's Little Nicky. But we're twenty years to old for most of the humor in it. It's the old case of "if you've seen one bodily functions gag, you've seen 'em all".
Little Nicky is the story of the ultimate in dysfunctional royal families. A single father and his three sons, two of whom covet dad's throne and a third they use as a punching bag. The throne in question is the Seat of Power in the Kingdom of Hell, founded millennia ago by grandpa Lucifer (Rodney Dangerfield) and due for its 10,000 year refurbishment. At least two of the sons, Adrian (Rhys Ifans) and Cassius (Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr.), expect dear old dad (Harvey Keitel) to turn the throne over to them for the next 10K. When he doesn't, they fly off to Earth to wreak havoc and ruin the Eternal Chances for thousands of souls in residence on the Island of Manhattan. With their departure, though, the Gates of Hell are frozen shut, leaving gatekeeper Kevin Nealon with little to do and dooming dad to a slow death by decomposition. Honorable Son #3, Little Nicky (Adam Sandler) must retrieve his brothers from the planet Earth to save his dad. Loving son that he is, he takes on the task eagerly.
Nicky's biggest challenge, though, is the fact that he's never been to Earth. He's had no experience with planes or trains or automobiles or talking dogs -- we'll get back to that -- and he quickly muffs the deal. That's the one benefit of being scion of Hell, having no soul means you can get killed in all sorts of amusing ways. They are amusing, even to a once paralyzed movie critic, who normally gets pissed off at the "hurt everybody else" humor that runs through a lot of SandlerFlicks. Here, Sandler only hurts himself, sort of, which doesn't bother us at all. So, no eMail on this point.
Along the line Nicky picks up a tutor to guide him through the maze of humanity, a bulldog called Mr. Beefy (voiced by SNL animator Robert Smigel) who possesses excretory abilities far beyond those of mortal pooches and a love for Popeye's chicken that is contagious (can you say promotional placement heaven? We knew that you could).
The brothers take various bodies as they manipulate the population towards a highway to hell, in a story which gives almost every decent Saturday Night Performer something to do -- Dana Carvey, Michael McKean all have good bits, as do Jon Lovitz, Ellen Cleghorn and the ever-present-in-SandlerFlicks Rob Schneider. The forces of the religious right are represented by a blind street preacher played by Quentin Tarantino.
Nice to see that Tarantino finally found work.
Nicky also finds love during his quest(s), in the personage of art student Valerie (Patricia Arquette, click for StarTalk). Love, redeeming thing that it is, puts the biggest possible barrier in Nicky's path, his mom (Reese Witherspoon).
The best thing about base humor is that none of it ever makes it into the teevee spots or PG rated movie trailers. So it'll be new to any teen or GenX'er that hasn't had their fill of that stuff. For us old farts, the big surprise and most major gag involves a famous rock star. (We could've said something about Adam Sandler's movies being a "nightmare" up top but that would've been misleading. Unless it's not. heh heh heh)
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Little Nicky, he would have paid...
Two numbers for two demographic age groups. Little Nicky is dateflick material for the teens and GenXers. It's worth the rental if a) you grew up with rock 'n' roll and b) you're way too old to be sitting through an Adam Sandler pic. That's how good the ultimate gag is.
And we forgot to mention the late Chris Farley of SNL, who also gets a joke into the mix. But you've got to sit through the entire movie to get it.
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