If you don’t know who Adam Sandler is, you probably won’t like Little Nicky. In fact, you might wonder how this movie could get such a big budget when its most notable feature is a star who appears to be doing a cocktail-party impression of Quasimodo, and whose best friend is a talking dog!
Well, this movie is not for you; it’s for me and all the other cultish fans and followers. Little Nicky is an Adam Sandler movie, and like the James Bond movies, it is indistinguishable from all the others in the series. The shape of the plot and the quality of the film do not matter. What’s important is that it’s the newest Adam Sandler movie, and therefore worth seeing.
PG-13 for language, drugs
Did You Notice?
Sandler dons a contorted facial expression, a goth hairdo, and a speech impediment to portray Nicky, the runt of the litter in Satan’s brood. Nicky’s dad (Harvey Keitel) has ruled Hell for ten thousand years, and it’s time for him to pass the throne to one of his sons. But since none of them are ready, he decides to keep the throne for another ten thousand. Nicky’s two older brothers are so angry they fly up to Earth to create their own hell, in effect putting Hell out of business. In order to save Hell, Nicky must go to Earth, capture his brothers, and bring them back.
Little Nicky has some pleasantly unexpected laughs. Some of the pranks his brothers pull while possessing the souls of New Yorkers are inspired. Several cameo appearances add to the fun.
But somehow Little Nicky doesn’t seem as funny as I had hoped. Maybe my expectations were raised by the release this year of Meet the Parents, a comedy with a high ratio of laughs to jokes. Maybe the heavy-handed gimmick in Little Nicky makes the film looks like Sandler is trying harder for the same laughs. I did find Little Nicky funny, but it wasn’t as consistently funny as I had hoped.
Geeks and Freaks Welcome
Regardless of the humor, the nice thing about Adam Sandler movies is his sense of inclusion. All the geeks and freaks are welcome, and they are all treated with basic human dignity.
High school is a place where cultures clash. Often the goths, geeks and other minorities are ostracized. Sandler always plays the cool upperclassman who befriends jocks and goths alike and even the fringe weirdos. He’s not above making the occasional surprised comment about strange clothes or behavior, but he harbors no cruelty or judgment.
For example, Nicky’s roommate is a struggling stage actor and a closeted homosexual. But Nicky also makes friends with a pair of devil-worshipping heavy metal fans. In your average high school the headbangers and the “theater fags” wouldn’t be caught dead together. But in Adam Sandler High School, Nicky and all three of his friends (along with the talking dog) eat some magical cake and have a great party together.
Just for Fans
I like Adam Sandler, and I like Little Nicky. But then I’m a fan, and I have a soft spot for this sort of movie. In contrast, Roger Ebert hates Sandler’s comedy, and he’s never liked any of his films. For someone like my mom, who has probably never heard of Adam Sandler, Little Nicky would be a confusing waste of time.
So for most of you, I can’t recommend this movie. On the other hand, if you’re a fan like me, you’ll be glad to know that the next Adam Sandler movie is out.