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New Line Home Cinema presents
Little Nicky (2000)

"I've never been to Earth dad. I've never even slept at another dude's house."
- Little Nicky (Adam Sandler)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: April 10, 2001

Stars: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel
Other Stars: Rhys Ifans, Tom "Tiny" Lester Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey
Director: Stephen Brill

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual humor, some drug content, language, and thematic material
Run Time: 01h:30ms:09s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 794043516023
Genre: black comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CAA- A

DVD Review

Adam Sandler films are comedies of the simplest form, with stupidity raised to a new echelon. Jokes focus on shameless violence, humiliation, and bodily functions, but the stories feature a certain unexplainable charm that keeps the films entertaining. Amazingly, Sandler is already 34 years old, yet he retains a boyish innocence and energy that can make obviously simple stories enjoyable. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore feature Sandler as a likable, fairly dumb, regular guy entering odd environments (elementary school or the golf tour). The Wedding Singer is more of a romantic comedy, but it still has its ridiculous moments. These films aren't usually labeled comic classics, but they all showcase Sandler's likability and a high level of silliness that keeps them enjoyable.

Little Nicky resembles Sandler's earlier works in terms of humor, but the focus spreads out to a multitude of quirky characters to grab our attention. Also, this story contains a large amount of computer-generated visual effects that add to the ridiculous tone. Within nearly constant gags and crazy special effects, Sandler isn't given the same amount of attention as in his early star vehicles. Numerous cameos from a large variety of celebrities divide the concentration of the movie even further. The originality keeps the film alive for a while, but it sputters and falls apart in its second half.

Satan (Harvey Keitel) has decided to remain in charge of hell, and this angers his two evil sons—brutal Cassius (Tom "Tiny" Lister Jr.) and conniving Adrian (Rhys Ifans). They decide to take over Earth, which places Satan in dire peril and causes his body to slowly disentegrate. His only hope is his other, feeble son—Little Nicky (Sandler)—who must journey to Earth to save the day. While there, he teams up with talking dog Beefy, demure Valerie (Patricia Arquette), and some other odd figures to fight his vicious brothers. Their conflict leads to nearly constant mayhem and stupidity, with some funny moments thrown into the mix. The highlights of Little Nicky are the inspired and inventive cameos from a score of performers, including many Saturday Night Live alumni. John Lovitz plays his usual slimy role as a voyeur who receives a ridiculous comeuppance from Satan. Dana Carvey shows up as an obsessive basketball referee, and Kevin Nealon receives plenty of humiliation as the gatekeeper of Hell. Several moments are too priceless to give away, but a few scenes deserve mention. One entertaining sequence involves a subverted Globetrotters game, where the team is called for technical fouls and other violations. In a stroke of genius, commentator Bill Walton receives the treatment he justly deserves for his incessant, ridiculous comments in NBA games. Other fun scenes involve the brothers taking over a Catholic Mass and their chaotic changes to New York, which include changing the motto from "I love New York" to "I love hookers."

While the crazy nature of this story provides some funny moments, the originality is eventually lost in a blitz of visual effects. Sandler and long-time writer Tim Herlihy miss the boat by placing too much emphasis on ridiculous computer-generated sequences. Also, certain gags just don't work, including the talking dog and the two reverent stoners who befriend Nicky. Lost within the shuffle is Sandler, who once again feels the need to use a goofy voice and silly face to create humor. With all the ensuing chaos around him, Nicky's shortcomings don't add anything to the fun or the limited drama; instead, they distract from the nearly overwhelming gags already inherent in the movie.

Little Nicky features some of the more unique characters and scenes in Adam Sandler's career, but it also contains some of his slowest and dullest moments. The amazing success of The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy shows that Sandler doesn't require a silly voice or bodily flaw to draw audiences. Instead, it takes away from the entertainment value of the film and becomes a distraction. Where will his career go next? Word is that Paul Thomas Anderson is writing a script for him, and maybe it will propel him to the next level. Sandler needs to start moving forward, and films like this one aren't going to do it.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: New Line succeeds again with this masterful 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. They continue to rank among the top companies in terms of DVD picture quality. The striking orange flames, dark costumes and scenery in hell appear in their full glory on this impressive picture. Virtually zero defects or grain exist on this print, and the black levels are solid. Throughout the entire film, the colors are stunning and well defined, especially in the scenes up in heaven. The bright rainbow and white angelic colors are memorable due to this pristine transfer, which makes this fairly tedious story more enjoyable.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The heavy metal tunes from Little Nicky's 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack blare through the speakers with sparkling clarity and power. Even the duller songs make you want to bang your head to the music. This transfer uses the surrounds nicely and features a excellent amount of depth and sharpness. The dialogue (even Little Nicky's raspy voice) resonates clearly through this track and makes sure the punch lines are easily understood.

This disc also includes a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track. The sounds emanate impressively from the speakers, but it lacks the depth and force of the digital transfer. However, it is one of the better dual-channel transfers on the market today.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
21 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Adam Sandler, director Stephen Brill, and Co-Writer Tim Herlihy
Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne, and others
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. School of Hard Knocks music video by P.O.D.
  2. DVD ROM features including access to original website and screenplay-to-film link
Extras Review: This New Line Platinum Series release features a diverse collection of extra features that rivals the best comedy DVDs on the market. The interactive menus contain plenty of fun animation and several options that take you nowhere. This whimsical nature corresponds nicely with the silly nature of the film. This disc includes 21 deleted scenes that vary among extended cuts, outtakes, and completely new sequences. Presented in a widescreen format, some scenes are missing visual and sound effects, but they're nearly finished versions. Most of them add little to the story, but they do contain some nastier scenes of torture, death, and overall chaos. One notable entry is an alternate ending, which includes Quentin Tarantino's annoying blind preacher. The original ending was definitely the better choice.

Little Nicky also includes two fairly interesting documentaries - Adam Sandler Goes to Hell and Satan's Top 40. The first one covers the entire background of the film's production and contains plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. This feature runs for 32 minutes, and delves into each major segment of the crew (production design, effects, and makeup). The second documentary gives a brief but interesting 17-minute overview of the history of heavy metal music. Rockers Gene Simmons, Ronnie James Dio, and Ozzy Osbourne all discuss their ideas about the genre and its origins. Simmons is especially forthright and pretty bitter about the common perceptions of heavy metal. Satan's Top 40 also includes scenes from the film, scenes from music videos, and concert footage.

Two feature-length commentaries provide an extreme amount of information and anecdotes about the production of the film. The first one includes Adam Sandler, director Steven Brill, and co-writer Tim Harlihy. These three guys definitely enjoy hanging out with each other, and it shows on this scene-specific commentary. Considering the limitations in discussing this film, they provide a good deal of background material. The second commentary contains a series of interviews by host Michael McKean with numerous actors in the film. These conversations don't always tie directly to the action on screen, but they are pretty interesting and entertaining. The actors on this track include silly Jon Lovitz, Henry Winkler, Rhys Ifans, and Ozzy Osbourne.

The remaining supplements are P.O.D.'s music video for School of Hard Knocks, cast and crew filmographies, and the original theatrical trailer. The video is s pretty basic metal song that resembles much of today's popular bands in the genre. It includes scenes from the movie and fire images around the band's performance. This isn't a terrible song, but it's pretty basic and lacks much creativity. The cast and crew information is very extensive, and includes television and film appearances for 20 individuals. Biographies would have been a nice addition. The theatrical trailer is presented with a surprising 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer and 1.85:1 widescreen picture. The preview looks great, even if it does a terrible job of promoting the film. While Little Nicky is no work of art, it appears even worse in this trailer, which is hard to accomplish.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Little Nicky is a stupid movie, even by Adam Sandler standards. Yet it does contain some amusing scenes and cameo performances that keep it mildly entertaining for a while. With a pristine transfer, booming soundtrack, and a multitude of extra features, this disc is worth a look for Sandler diehards and viewers looking for utterly mindless comedy.

 


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