Reviewed by: Curtis D. Smith
|Featuring:||Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans, Tom “Tiny” Lister Jr., Kevin Nealon|
|Director:||Steven Brill, Theo Van De Sande|
|Producer:||Allen Covert, Bob Engelman, Jack Giarraputo, Robert Simonds|
|Distributor:||New Line Cinema|
If movies succeeded or failed based solely on the number of talented actors in their cast, “Little Nicky” would be one of the most popular films of all time.
Boasting such prolific comedians as Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz and Kevin Nealon, and with cameo appearances by Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne, Clint Howard, Dan Marino, Regis Philbin, Bill Walton, Quentin Tarantino and Reese Witherspoon, “Little Nicky” has as much going for it as possible in the area of cast.
But instead of this comedic dream team being an asset to the film it instead establishes an aura of disjointedness where insignificant tangents are painstakingly explored and sophomoric humor blindly rules each scene.
While the frequent tangents offer an occasional distraction from the dumb, razor-thin story line, they infuriatingly lengthen this painful experience well beyond the realm of tolerance. What could have been a 70 minute experience akin to quickly ripping off a Band-Aid is prolonged to 93 minutes of anguish, much like a 10-inch length of duct tape being peeled slowly away from dense arm hair.
The ludicrous plot has Adam Sandler playing “Little Nicky,” the soft spoken third grandson of the retired Prince of Darkness, Lucifer (Rodney Dangerfield). Lucifer’s son (Harvey Keitel) now controls Hell, but his 10,000 year reign is up for grabs and he must choose one of his sons to take over. Seeing no virtue in either of his eldest sons, Adrian and Cassius (Rhys Ifans and Tommy Lister Jr.), and mindful of Nicky’s inadequacies, he passes on all three of them and reassumes the throne to the chagrin of Nicky’s siblings.
Unwilling to submit to another 10,000 years under their father’s rule, Adrian and Cassius escape Hell and begin to overpower New York, and eventually, the world. For reasons unexplained, this defiant move locks the gates of Hell and causes Nicky’s dad to begin deteriorating limb by limb until all that is left is his mouth and arms.
You are correct if you think this scenario is not funny, but asinine, however, it gets even worse when the filmmakers (Sandler included among a trio of credited writers) force a love interest for Nicky in the form of Valerie (Patricia Arquette), a mousy, homely waif who somehow falls for him despite his association with Satan. Also included in the Earthly nonsense are two headbanging dorks, an ambiguously gay roommate, a cross-dressing wacko, a talking dog and a crazy, blind street preacher. All of them offer little to the story beyond pointless, quasi-comic gobbledygook and general boorishness.
The plot thickens when—and this is one of those tangents I warned you about—Nicky discovers that his mom is really an angel (Reese Witherspoon) who jumped in the sack with Satan after consuming a few too many drinks at a Heaven/Hell get-together (try finding that one in your concordance).
If by this point your eyeballs and neck aren’t too sore from head shaking and eye rolling you will be treated to an idiotic ending where Ozzy saves the world by biting the head off a bat (I refuse to explain that one).
Aside from this film being the fourth lame film in a row about the devil, “Little Nicky” is just altogether bad. The story concept is humdrum, the crude jokes are trite and lackluster, the sight gags are superfluous and the acting is downright embarrassing. Moreover, there are very few laughs to be had in this appalling film unless you enjoy potty humor at its worst.
The only virtue this film extols is the relationship between the main character and his father. And while the story does manage to promote good over evil it still celebrates some rudimentary decency in mankind rather than the manifest sinlessness in God as the most effective tool to fight evil. Paul tells us in Romans 7:18 that “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”
Still, “Little Nicky” has much deeper issues than this to overcome in the area of moral integrity. The Bible strongly cautions us in several scriptures regarding our attention to lewdness and impurity. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.” “Little Nicky” seriously lacks any of these traits.
Sandler has shown promise from time to time with more mature hits like “The Wedding Singer” and “Big Daddy” but too often he resorts to pure stupidity on film as seen in “Waterboy.” Apparently his idea of creating an impressive character is achieved by walking funny and faking a speech impediment. You have to wonder how far that shtick will take him before even loyal fans beg for a more substantive approach to entertainment. The primary thing Sandler must avoid in the future, however, is an apparent need to fill the cast with an overabundance of well-known faces for no apparent reason other than to make friends in Hollywood. What filmmakers usually end up, and what happens with “Little Nicky” is something like what happened with “Cannonball Run”—a meandering series of coincidental, semi-rehearsed scenes that can barely surmount the sum of their parts. And when the sum of a film’s parts adds up to nil anyway it spells big trouble at the box office.
Perhaps Sandler’s fan base will cough up the necessary cash to push this disaster over the profit hump, but those concerned with moral integrity shouldn’t bother. Not even a $1.99 video rental split seven ways would be worth it.