Holiday Movie Month! "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights" Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

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Holiday Movie Month! "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights" Review

Rating: PG-13 (frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references)
Length: 76 minutes
Release Date: November 27, 2002
Directed by: Seth Kearsley
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Drama

Davey (voice of Adam Sandler) is a bad boy gone worse who can't seem to control his impulses, especially the ones that put him on the verge of ruining his life. He goes through life hurling insults laden with expletives at people, making poop jokes, and generally not caring about anyone's welfare, including his own. He seems content to thrash his way through life and initially has no redeeming qualities whatsoever in "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights," an animated Hanukkah-themed film about redemption.

One night, Davey goes on a real tear, drinking heavily and causing all kinds of problems around town. It's the type of crime that should have netted him some time in the hoosegow, but a kindly judge takes pity on him and sentences him to community service instead. He is assigned to help Whitey Duvall (Adam Sandler in his second role) run the local youth basketball league, which is designed to help kids avoid growing up to be like Davey. Whitey's sister Eleanore (Sandler in his third and final role of the film) doesn't like Davey at first, especially because he picks on her and on poor Whitey, who doesn't always seem aware that he is the butt of Davey's jokes.

It seems like Davey can't be saved until he reunites with his childhood sweetheart Jennifer (Jackie Titone), who has a young son named Benjamin (Austin Stout). Finally, his heart begins to thaw just a little bit each day, until finally he begins to act human. He stops pushing everyone away and gets swept up in the spirit of Hanukkah, which is fast approaching. He hasn't celebrated any holidays in quite some time, so he cautiously begins to throw himself into truly helping people, which might just win him the heart of Jennifer. Of course, he has been a man-boy for so long that he can't help but occasionally be crude and off-color with his jokes, but Jennifer doesn't seem to mind. As long as he can maintain his newfound interest in the happiness of others, it may just turn out to be a wonderful life after all.

To say that Adam Sandler's films are something of a family affair might be a bit of an understatement. He regularly casts friends from his childhood and even family members on occasion to play significant roles in his films. Regulars like Peter Dante, who has appeared in half a dozen of Sandler's previous movies, have parts in "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights." Here, Sandler takes things a bit further by hiring his real-life wife, Jackie Titone, to voice the part of Jennifer, who helps redeem the main character. Several other Sandlers are credited with bit parts, as if Sandler wanted to show the true spirit of Hanukkah by quite literally casting his entire family. It is far more involvement than his family has ever had on one of his movies, although Sandler himself had far more time and effort invested into this movie as well.

Not only did Sandler get his name in the film's official title, he also voiced three parts, co-wrote the film with three other writers, and co-produced the film with his production company. His fingerprints are all over the film, including the crude humor and content. It's as if Sandler wanted to write a love letter of sorts to all the faithful fans who have helped make him a big Hollywood star by giving them heaping doses of the same kind of pranks and one-liners that made him famous. Actually, since it came out right around Thanksgiving, it could be considered a holiday gift to his fans rather than a love letter. Either way, "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights" might just be the prototypical Sandler movie, except that the film is animated rather than live action.

The holiday season is filled with Christmas movies, most of which are rather heartwarming and dramatic. There are a few exceptions, such as "Bad Santa," which is a dark comedy that is almost nothing like the usual holiday fare. "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights" seems to want to be in company with "Bad Santa" and the rest of that ilk but with a focus on Hanukkah instead. It's a welcome addition to and departure from the movies that are usually airing all through December. Anyone who needs a little break from the more straightforward Christmas films or from the marathon airings of the delightful "A Christmas Story" can watch "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights" to get their respite.

Rating: 3 out of 5