Eight Crazy Nights
In the new animated holiday feature Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, town jerk/drunk Davey Stone learns that the Hanukah spirit doesn't have to come from a bottle. In typical Sandler fashion, however, Davey doesn't learn his lesson until significant fecal matter is tossed around.
Davey Stone (voiced by Adam Sandler) was once a JCC junior league basketball star, but in the 20 years since then he's become a fall-down drunk and the abhorred town ass. When he gets busted for a dine and dash at a Chinese restaurant, the judge is ready to send him to the state pen, but fortunately for Davey, Whitey (also voiced by Sandler) steps in and changes his fate. The 4-foot-tall junior basketball league referee with severely mismatched feet and insane amounts of fluffy, white body hair offers to rehabilitate him through basketball--and the judge agrees. Davey continues to act like an incorrigible idiot. More poop jokes ensue. But when Davey's trailer is torched, he moves in with Whitey and his bald, owl-like twin sister Eleanore (also voiced by Sandler), and Davey's transformation begins in earnest with (what else?) a song. There's also a love interest, Jen (Jackie Titone), Davey's childhood sweetheart who now thinks--not erroneously--that he's an utter jerk. She's raising her son Benjamin on her own because her husband has left her--and naturally, her son likes basketball. Benjamin bonds with Davey, his new male role model, who teaches him valuable lessons about sportsmanship--for example, when you win, shout, ''Eat that nut strap bee-yatch!'' You go, big daddy.
Sandler takes on the three major roles in Eight Crazy Nights: Whitey, Eleanore and, of course, Davey, who has quite a hot bod' for a cartoon character. Sandler also voices several extremely talented deer that lend their assistance at key points in the story. Early on, Sandler's extremely whiney Whitey voice is strident enough to give new meaning to the phrase ''Kill Whitey,'' but the little guy grows on you. Part elf, part Santa Claus, his kindness to everyone--and especially his sister Eleanore--is touching. Sandler gives Eleanore a similarly annoying voice that goes perfectly with her owl-like glasses, really large teeth and wide variety of wigs. These are definitely two holiday-movie characters we haven't seen before. Davey, on the other hand, is much more familiar; he's an infinitely more grotesque and nasty version of the depressed George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. The three characters work well together, not surprisingly, since Sandler's calling all the shots, and one of the high points of the film comes when all three characters do a rollicking musical number called ''Technical Foul,'' in which Whitey and Eleanore explain the rules of their household to Davey.
Eight Crazy Nights is holiday movie with a flavor that's standard Sandler: It tastes good goin' down, but it tends to repeat on you. At its best moments, the movie reaches great satirical heights; at its most grotesque, it's typical Sandler fare that will no doubt have die-hard fans of the former SNL regular roaring with laughter at all the requisite poop jokes, flying snot and gastric disorders--and believe me when I tell you there are a lot of them. But all this scatological fun springs from your basic holiday plot--bad guy turns good with the help of a few friends--and that's where the film becomes problematic. It ends up spewing as much sentimental crap as it does puke. Witness this lyric from the climactic musical number, fittingly sung in the mall by various signature logo characters, including the Panda Express panda, the Foot Locker guy, two toy soldiers from Kaybee Toys and so on: ''It's time to cry, Davey deal with the pain Let it out Davey.'' Ugh! Despite the scene's trenchant commentary on holiday commercialism, the lyric is absolutely puke-inducing.
Adam Sandler has a unique gift for combining jokes that are so funny you nearly pee in your pants with others that are so cringe-inducing you want to walk out of the theater. If you can take slightly more of the latter than the former, Eight Crazy Nights will be an entertaining, if occasionally appalling, movie-going experience.