a critiQal film review Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

Plot: After his latest destructive rampage, ex-basketball star Davey Stone (Sandler) is brought to court ...again. The judge is about to sentence him to 10 years hard time when Whitey, the old misshapen youth basketball coach, convinces the judge to release Davey into his care. At the lowest point in his life, Davey must overcome his past troubles and reform himself...or he’s on his way to the slammer.

687 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 26s)
  • ...Sandler's irritating oaf persona takes on the animated side of things - and just like some of his live-action films, it gets real old, real fast.

After Punch-Drunk Love (2002) was released, the public (myself included) noticed Adam Sandler in a new light.

Sure, he’d been in bunches of idiotic movies (and a few were even funny), but Punch-Drunk Love (2002) really showed that he could act for the first time. Would this be a new leaf that Adam was turning over? Would he take on more serious roles, and maybe even eventually become a more serious player in Hollywood? Nah.

The first preview I saw for Eight Crazy Nights shows more of the same old Adam. But, will it be different watching it, now that we’ve seen what he’s been hiding all these years?

The character voices really help to make or break an animated film. If you don’t match the animated caricatures to the voices, the movie comes off as just a bad joke, and isn’t really worth watching. For example, can you imagine what The Lion King (1994) would have been like if Jeremy Irons had voiced young Simba instead of taking on the role of Scar? Wouldn’t it have thrown you for a loop? That’s a bit extreme, but it does showcase the importance of the right voices for animated films.

Adam Sandler, who’s been practicing his different voices and accents since his “Saturday Night Live” (TV) days, does a pretty good job with most of the voice roles here, and gives most of his characters a unique voice. He’s also invited his old pals Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider along for this trip, and they each do a decent job creating their characters as well.

How about the plot, though? Since Punch-Drunk Love (2002) showed he has some real talent, would this foray into the animation world show that he is starting to choose his plots a little more wisely? Maybe just a little…but not much.

The storyline does stay consistent throughout Eight Crazy Nights, but it’s twists and turns take it into old Adam Sandler territory: crude humor (Whitey, at one point, takes a ride down a hill in a full port-a-potty, then climbs out, covered in brown goo. Davey sprays a hose at him, which causes Whitey to freeze like that, until some reindeer come and lick him clean. EWWW!).

It definitely skates a rather thin line between being just gross and utterly disgusting at times, a trend which seems to be prominent in most comedies these days. It’s unfortunate, and just showcases the scriptwriter’s own lack of truly funny ideas, since he’s obviously going for the low shots (so to speak) at some points. The film also contains a numerous amount of cruel jokes about handicapped people (the main character has different-sized feet). This sort of low brow humor should have been done away with long ago in films, yet it seems to constantly pop up.

Eight Crazy Nights does try to redeem itself in the end, but that end is accomplished in a relatively short amount of time, and the audience may be left feeling that it wraps things up a little too quickly and neatly.

The animation is well done, a compliment for any film that has decided to compete on Disney’s playing field. It’s very smooth, and does allow the audience to get involved with the film, even with it’s caricature-like style of animating. The animation is definitely the only flawless part of the film, and it whets the appetite for any animated film the studio may produce in the future.

All in all, Eight Crazy Nights is basically what you would expect from pre-Punch-Drunk Love (2002) Sandler. Maybe Punch-Drunk Love (2002) was a fluke. Maybe this is all that Sandler will give his audience – the same old dumb, rude and crude (but sometimes likable) guy that he’s played so many times. If so, it will probably get as tiresome for you as it has for me.

His foray into animation does try to up the ante a bit, by at least cobbling together a plot, but it’s nothing I’m going crazy over – not even for one night.

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