November 9, 2000

Unleash the Evil

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Leave it to Adam Sandler to make a comedy about eternal damnation for all and a hostile takeover of Earth by Satan’s two sons. That’s about all anyone needs to know concerning the plot of Little Nicky, because let’s face it, who’s watching for intricate storylines and plot twists? Exactly.

Like the rest of the Sandler pantheon, Little Nicky focuses on cheap laughs at the expense of any number of targets. Homosexuals and little people are among the victims of the film’s un-PC sense of humor.

However, while the movie is definitely entertaining, it is hard to decide whether it was good. Even movies that are for the most part forgettable can make people laugh every now and then. It’s the law of averages. Throw enough comedy writers in a room, and they’re bound to come up with something funny. Well, either that or Homeboys in Outer Space.

The problem is that Adam Sandler has no pretensions about making good movies. He just wants to make people laugh. While that’s all good and fine, it makes a critic’s job very hard. His movies can’t be judged by normal standards. This also makes Sandler’s job considerably harder, for the life and death of his films lies completely on the weight of his jokes.

By this standard, Little Nicky is about 50% entertaining, and 50% derivative drivel. While some aspects of the film are original, such as director Steve Brill’s interpretation of heaven as the Cornell Greek system, some points are overly reminiscent of many other films. Jokes about wacky pot smokers and how wacky weed affects them just don’t have the spark of novelty they did back in the Cheech and Chong movies.

One thing Adam Sandler has always managed to excel at is working obscure and random cameos into his work. Come on, admit it. How many times have you laughed at Happy Gilmore fighting with Bob Barker? “The price is wrong, bitch.” Haha. Okay, now that that’s out of my system, back to Litlte Nicky. The army of pop- culture icons littered throughout the film tie it into reality, as though even demons are getting sick of Regis.

In a rare feat for Sandler films, some of the acting in Little Nicky is quite good. In his role as Adrian, the plotting son of Satan, Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) manages to be truly hateable, which is no small feat in a movie that has a man running around with breasts on his head.

Keeping with the Sandler tradition, Little Nicky is sure to be adored by his loyal fan base. While definitely not his best work, this film is certainly a worthy addition to his filmography. But a good review from film critics? There’s not a chance in hell.

Archived article by Mike Giusto