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Little Nicky (2000)
Directed by Steven Brill Written by Steven Brill, Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler
After 10,000 years of reigning in Hell, the time had come for Satan (Harvey Keitel) to retire. However with his choices between the ever ruthless Adrian (Rhys Ifans), strong-willed Cassius (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister) or the devilishly kind Nicky (Adam Sandler) he just couldn’t bring himself to give up the throne. Deemed reasonable unfair and in turn throwing a fit, Cassius and Adrian then decide to make their way through the entry portal to Earth in order to reign between the worlds. Inadvertently freezing the gates to Hell, enabling anyone from passing through, which leaves its fate up to Nicky. Sent to bring back both brothers simultaneously before their father fully deteriorated or have their influence damn Earth entirely; more so than already that is.
The Good: Considering the concept for the film and that their budget was almost four times than what they’re used to working with the one thing you can’t argue is how great each depiction looked. Production designer Perry Andelin Blake ensured that each realm looked appropriate and if anything was able to make Hell look all too inviting. So much that one could hardly appreciate it at first glance. Though the Oz man himself was just as thoroughly impressed when appearing on set for his cameo and asked Blake to accompany him for OzzFest in order to create similar sets. But even if unable to notice all the details put in at the beginning or ending when Hell finally emerges above ground (spoiler) such is able to come forth with the kinds of prosthetic’s used for characters like the Gatekeeper (Kevin Nealon) or Jimmy the Demon (Blake Clark).
Despite the absurd nature of the plot, one need not try to make sense of the film. That philosophy holding true for the majority of the Happy Madison universe to be exact. However I just couldn’t get enough of the cameos we see throughout, endless almost, with what is hands down my favorite time seeing Quentin Tarantino pop up in a film. Rhys Ifans completely embodied his character as did the different Actors he takes over while making his way to the final battle with Nicky in Central Park. Countless others such as Rodney Dangerfield, Henry Winkler and Reese Witherspoon able to assist in adding memorable walk on roles. With returning favorites Allen Covert, Peter Dante and Johnathan Loughran as the equally hilarious failed Actor and stoner metal heads who were just fans of the work Nicky’s father had done. Adding Patricia Arquette as the love interest which while I wasn’t sure worked in their favor, certainly fit the look they were ultimately going for.
The Bad: Albeit despite how much I actually do like about this movie, there is just the same as many things that I wish had gone differently. Stereotypical components of male humor usually entail those ‘dick and fart jokes,’ nudity or any excuse to throw a metal song attached to something violent. I.e. your sensitive side has no business being here. Fully able to appreciate a good joke when I hear or see one but not necessarily wishing to view a dog screwing anything or getting wasted in a strip club. Most of the scenes with Beefy the dog (which is actually Sandler’s dog Meatball) I felt were somewhat unnecessary. I didn’t mind him guiding the character but anything else was unneeded silliness. And surly the kid in the Globetrotters scene didn’t need to say his one line; only in certain circumstances do I think its okay for kids to actually swear in movies.
Do they take away from the film? Not entirely. There’s enough to outweigh these parts for myself, fully aware that a couple weird scenes don’t make or break a film. Besides trying to make logic of films like this rarely makes sense to begin with because they in fact represent the antithesis of such. Though I did overall enjoy the film the gimmicks are a bit inessential after a point which I do blame on the budget.
The Verdict: Sandler and his bunch get a bad rap for their work. Which while I can understand as of the last eight years, hasn’t always been the case. Growing up he was the comic I first grew fond of as it was in my youth when he was in his prime. Though whether jumping at the fact that he constantly works with friends (as though that doesn’t go on in the industry) or that his style of comedy ventures a bit too far south at times, the fact remains that at heart him and his bunch are a group of guys that are laid back who don’t take life too seriously. I kind of envy that quality. Because there tends to be a natural progression to what a lot of comics may tend to follow: after their prime, participating in a handful of serious films which most people won’t like or understand and once they’ve had their fill, cross over into animated/ family films for seemingly the remainder of their career. Until they miss said glory days and try to recreate what is no longer possible. Though I think its important to realize that those same laughs can’t always be had and for good measure. Jokes progress or in some cases digress. All that being said…
Truthfully I never get tired of this film. While some moments could have ended up on the cutting room floor, it’s one of my favorites from the Happy Madison clan. Simply revolving around the things they like most in life: sex, weed and rock ‘n’ roll.