Cast & Crew
Davey Stone/Whitey Duvall/Eleanore Duvall
llen Covert. Jack Giarraputo, Denise Pleune, Adam Sandler,
Ken Tsumura, Kara Vallow; Directed by Seth Kearsley;
Screenwritten by Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert and
Brad Isaacs; based on the story by Adam Sandler
Comedy (US); Rated
PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking
and brief drug regerences; Running Time - 87 Minutes
Domestic Release Date
November 27, 2002
by DAVID KEYES
It must be more than just sheer coincidence that the worst
animated film since "Cool World" is being released
alongside one of the most brilliant of the recent past.
Adam Sandler's aptly-titled "Eight Crazy Nights"
finds itself being unleashed on reputable theater screens
during the same weekend as Disney's highly-anticipated "Treasure
Planet," the first traditional feature cartoon since
"Titan A.E." to rise above the mold and pull the
viewers into an experience both adventurous and exhilarating.
Lumping these two products together, if you think about
it, is an ideal marketing campaignif the moviegoers
are going out of their way to see a cartoon during Thanksgiving,
do they really care enough to make a choice between two
major openings? Of course not. And given the fact that Sandler's
namenot to mention the holiday themeis attached
to this one, that's probably exactly what Columbia Pictures
is depending on.
Not that they could depend on anything else to push this
product on unsuspecting viewers. "Eight Crazy Nights"
is a shallow, crude, mean-spirited and painfully unfunny
excursion into lunacy, driven by an all-too-familiar shtick
from beginning to end without so much as a moment of breathing
room. And what has been true up until now about the average
Sandler comedy is only magnified beyond acceptance here;
the jokes aren't just loathsome and cruel, they're aggressively
tone-deaf as well. And that, believe it or not, is quite
the ambush considering that the actor's most recent product,
the P.T. Anderson love story "Punch Drunk Love,"
seemed to hint that he, like Jim Carrey following "The
Truman Show," was more interested in doing something
that utilized his talent as an actor. This pile of dreck,
however, represents a setback so major, it almost makes
"The Waterboy" watchable.
Sandler's character is Davey Stone (almost a spitting image
of himself), a slacker, a vandal, and a cretin that is always
on the wrong side of the law. To top it all off, when he's
not breaking the rules (and the property around him), he's
tearing down the walls of decency with his rude and disgusting
disposition. After being caught by the cops for his latest
legal tryst and threatened with a ten-year sentence in the
slammer, the local basketball coach, Whitey Duvall, steps
up and suggests an alternative plan that could possibly
redeem the man from his rebellious naturehe could
serve as the coach's own assistant. Of course, where it
all goes from there should be a familiar route to those
who have seen anything Sandler has done in this genre.
Incidentally, he services the voice of three of the film's
major characters, each of them equally annoying in their
convictions. The hero of the movie is not Davey, as most
would have you think, but actually the Whitey character,
a short middle-aged bald man with feet that are two different
sizes, eyes small enough to almost go unnoticeable, and
a voice that sounds vaguely like Sandler's own on helium.
The result is not necessarily the most damaging of the lot
(Sandler does much worse in fact with Whitey's sister Eleanore,
who could pass off as a member of Fran Drescher's family
tree), but it does make you wonder exactly what anyone was
aiming for with this direction. Whitey isn't cute, funny,
or sympathetic in the least, and when the movie pulls out
a sentimental twist towards the end designed to sprout some
admiration towards him, we wonder why the script even bothers.
But "Eight Crazy Nights" has bigger errors to
deal with than just miscalculated characterizations. Consider,
for instance, the back story behind the Davey character;
in flashback sequences that detail his childhood love for
the sport of basketball, we learn that his parents were
killed in a car accident on their way to his big game, leaving
behind only a greeting card in an envelope that the withdrawn
guy has since refused to open.The movie needs some kind
of gimmick to justify Stone's erratic behavior, yes, but
with a scenario as severe as this amongst all sorts of profanity,
toilet humor and the "Jackass"-inspired practical
jokes, how are we supposed to react, anyway? Watching this
bizarre turn of events unfold, the movie makes a drastic
shift in tones that it is never able to recover from.
For the sake of being a little fair, I'm willing to accept
the premise at face value: as a story about realizing the
spirit of the holidays even when life has kicked you in
the teeth one too many times. But I am not, however, as
willing to accept any of the following as excuses for comedy:
A scene in which Davey instructs an obese kid to not return
to the basketball court until he's wearing a bra (to be
later followed by the teary-eyed boy being discovered
at a department store trying one on);
A repeating gag in which people who are rendered unconscious
are arranged so that their hands wind up touching important
areas inside their own pants;
A contest between competing basketball players that ends
with the losers being forced to eat an overweight man's
sweaty jock strap;
A prank that ends with Whitey being hurdled down a hill
in a portable toilet and emerging with runny feces covering
A stereotypical Asian character who only utters words
of dialogue when the script feels like poking fun at the
fact that he doesn't speak very good English;
6) A family of deer that follow Whitey around, assist
him whenever he gets caught in major problems, and defecate
uncontrollably when a human tells a joke that's too funny
for them to handle.
is the movie even animated to begin with? I gather because
director Seth Kearsley feels that he can get away with a
lot more in a cartoon rather than in a live action vehicle
(hey, if it worked for "South Park," I guess it
was worth an attempt). But Mr. Kearsley makes one slight
error in judgment that cripples his entire product: he doesn't
seem to understand the purpose of laughter. Alas, Sandler
still doesn't understand it himself; whenever he appears
on screen in a film like this, he barely drudges his way
though the mediocre material, sometimes shouting and snapping
at his costars like he's an overachiever performing CPR
on the dead source material. In any case, if he has searching
for solid identity as a comedian, animation hasn't brought
him any closer to his goal than live action, so now is the
ideal time for him to seek out some major career advice.
With any luck, maybe he'll take mine.
2002, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.