Eight Crazy Nights (2002) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references
Running Time: 76 min.
Cast (voices): Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Austin Stout, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider, Norm Crosby, Jon Loitz, Tyra Banks, Carl Weathers, Lainie Kazan
Director: Seth Kearsley
Screenplay: Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, Brad Isaacs, Adam Sandler
Review published November 29, 2002
I freely admit that I've been known to use crude humor from time to time. Normally I reserve such lowbrow humor for people I know well enough so that I don't offend others who may not appreciate it, or at the very least, so that they don't make the assumption that that's how I think all of the time. However, if done in the right context, it can be funny so long it's not overdone or abused.
Overdone and abused is the problem I have with Adam Sandler's (Little Nicky, Big Daddy) latest offense to the senses, 8 Crazy Nights. I know that lowbrow humor is something we all can expect from Sandler's comedies, with the notable exception of Punch-Drunk Love. However, the level of bad taste has sunk to an all-new low in what is supposed to be a cute holiday animated feature, with some events occurring that would probably have made this an R-rated film if it didn't feature animation. Luckily for the producers of this film, a PG-13 rating was awarded, because now their target audience can be reached, namely 13-year-old boys who find jokes about pooping, farting, belching, and urinating in one's pants to be the height of comedic glory.
Sandler performs the voice of Davey, a thirty-something misanthrope who is seen as the town menace for his insults and ill-conceived pranks. He is so disliked, he even dislikes himself. After yet another run-in with the law, he finds he must perform some community service refereeing a youth basketball league where he is joined by Whitey, the elderly long-time ref whose lifelong dream is to win the respect of his town by winning some patch of some sort. Davey has a grand old time making fun of the old coot, but when a fire burns down his trailer, he has no other friends or family who will take him except Whitey. However, the house rules don't sit well with the trouble-making Davey, who goes to no ends in his humilation of the old man and his sister, Eleanor.
We all know that Davey will have a change-of-heart before it's all through, so the best we could hope for is some laughs while 8 Crazy Nights travels along its predictable path. However, just because all ends up well in the end doesn't mean that every sordid, sadistic, and unsavory activity we see before it is fine and dandy. Just to give you an example of the type of film you are dealing with here, there is a scene where Whitey is doing his civic duty washing out some outhouses when he is locked inside one and rolled down a snow-covered hill. When he emerges, Davey decides to have some fun by spraying his feces-covered body with a hose until Whitey freezes into a block of ice. Using some sort of weird mental powers, Whitey summons some nearby reindeer to help him, which they do by licking him free until their mouths are coated with fecal matter. Yes, it is actually intended to be funny.
This and many other such jokes did the opposite for me, at first making me dispirited that such a mean and ugly film would try to pass as cute. Then I felt sad, then depressed, and ultimately I was angry. Angry that kids would be the main targeted audience for this kind of depraved garbage. I can only hope that kids know well enough to realize that none of what they see on screen should be considered appropriate behavior.
What also offended me even more than the potty humor is the unbelievable amounts of product placement, where one of the songs is nothing but a commercial for everyone who gave money for screen-time for the film, and things get even worse later when all of the sponsors actually become characters in the film for another song. Out of its paltry 86 minute running length, that about 15 minutes is spent selling products is almost unforgivable.
OK, let me digress from the rant to explain why I don't give it one star, considering how upset this film made me. I actually laughed on occasion, mostly during the occasional songs that had a kind of energy that is mostly missing during the other scenes, and there were a few other moments of silliness that show that some of the writing isn't completely without talent. Also, the animation is decent as well.
If not for Punch-Drunk Love, I would probably feel much more pessimistic about Sandler's future after two of his worst films being released this year (Mr. Deeds is the other,) and the choice is now up to him as to what kind of entertainer he wants to be in the future. He had better choose wisely or I will officially ban his films for the rest of my life, putting him just under Pauly Shore and Carrot Top in my book of black-listed comedians. 8 Crazy Nights is probably the worst film I've seen from Sandler to date, which says more than you can imagine. It may also be the worst film posing as a feel-good holiday feature for the whole family. Maybe the youngest boy in your family will find it uproarious but the rest of the kin might not let him enjoy the whole film as he is dragged out of the theatre. Hopefully, he won't exhibit any of the mean-spirited humor of the film while on the way home.
©2002 Vince Leo