Adam Sandler has never fared well with the critics, even though his hits have become revered by millions of fans. He has several funny movies, his best being by far Happy Gilmore. Following that, he did Billy Madison, which is nowhere as good but still extremely funny. The Waterboy marked a quick peak in his career, almost matching Happy Gilmore, but... Then came Big Daddy, which was moderately funny - worth the matinee price.
But I have noticed something. Ever since Happy Gilmore, his first big movie, the quality of his films have gone steadily downhill. They are also very similar. Sandler plays a warm-hearted idiot who goes against the odds in some sort of another and encounters a lot of equally dumb characters along the way. His fans can only take so much of this.
However, it caught me by surprising when his descent hit a cliff and Adam Sandler became the star of something like Little Nicky. Whatever possessed Sandler to play the warm-hearted son of Satan is beyond me, as is the fact that several established stars, such as Harvey Keitel and Patricia Arquette, also became involved.
Little Nicky reportedly was made with a budget of $80 million, and for some reason New Line thought they were going to make a profit with it. The movie is a pile of crap. It looks like someone hastily pasted a bunch of scenes together and tried to make random situations funny, for some reason or another. The computer-generated world of Hell is filled with strange creatures, ranging from a man with breasts on his head to the father of the Devil, played by Rodney Dangerfield. All of them are idiots. Earth is also infested with dumbasses, a good example being the two Devil-worshippers who act more like stoners. I think the worst part about this movie is, though, that all of the actors realized Little Nicky was bad and didn't try for a moment to pull off a decent performance.
Harvey Keitel, who is usually a powerhouse when it comes to acting, seems like he lost a bet, and that is the only reason he is in this film. Furthermore, I think he abandoned all acting skill for this movie just to fit in with the rest of them. Patricia Arquette, who also has some acting talent, delivers the worst performance of them all, trying to be a nerdy street vendor who has about as much character depth as a dried-up puddle. And then there's Adam Sandler himself, who tries to make the money funnier by using a twisted face and an annoyingly fake lisp (note to Sandler: In The Waterboy, the lisp was funny, but just acknowledge the fact that you aren't good enough of an actor to be doing fake 'accents').
Sandler is not the best actor in the world, but he gets the point across in his movies. Except for in Little Nicky. In all his other films, there are two things great about them: There are some good lines, and Adam Sandler knows how to pull them off. Sandler says about two remotely funny things throughout the entire course of the film, and that just isn't good. He never gets a chance to do anything in Little Nicky.
Little Nicky does have a few funny moments, like when Nicky goes to Heaven and meets his mother (and we see a very interesting, and to some offensive, view of angels), but they are so few and far between that I do not think it is possible for anyone to like this movie.
If I can say anything, I can say that people are finally getting tired of Sandler's material (anyone remember Paulie Shore?). But I think Sandler still has a couple of years left, and he should make the best of those years... as a goofy idiot that does not rely on the Devil or computer graphics to get laughs across. He does have a kind of talent; he should use it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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