Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Steven Brill

Stars: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, Allen Covert, Reese Witherspoon, Tiny Lister jr, Michael McKean, Rodney Dangerfield, Jon Lovitz, Henry Winkler, Rob Schneider, Ozzy Osbourne.

Adam Sandler is one of those comics that you either love or hate, with his whining persona and scrappy humour based on flatulence, homophobic jokes, bodily functions, and other gross out moments that even the Farrelly brothers wouldn’t touch. However, he has managed to create a couple of genuinely entertaining comedies that have crossed over to reach a broader audience (The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy). Unfortunately, his latest film is a return to the tedious schoolboy humour of earlier films, and is a huge disappointment.

In Little Nicky, Sandler plays Nicky, the youngest spawn of the devil (played here by Harvey Keitel in a thankless role), whose mother was an angel (Reese Witherspoon). A good hearted soul out of place in Hell, Nicky is happy with his lot in this underground kingdom of the damned. But his two older brothers (played by Rhys Ifans and “Tiny” Lister, from Next Friday, etc) become bored with their father’s 1000 year reign, and attempt to usurp him by journeying to New York City and corrupting the populace. Unfortunately, their actions have caused a disruption of the order of things in Hell, and the devil is literally starting to waste away.

Nicky has a week in which to save the day. He has to journey to the surface, and somehow lure his two evil brothers back underground to restore the balance. His unlikely guide on earth is Beefy, a wise cracking bulldog, who gets some of the film’s best lines. But Nicky becomes a little distracted along the way when he falls in love with the innocent and trusting Valerie (Patricia Arquette).

Written by Sandler and regular collaborator Tim Herlihy, Little Nicky is for the most part unfunny and tedious stuff, unless you’re a devoted Sandler fan. Little Nicky caters to the lowest common denominator, but, even then, much of the groan-inducing schoolboy humour still manages to insult the intelligence of most of the potential audience. Steven Brill, who throws both caution and taste to the winds, directs the whole thing in gloriously unsubtle fashion.

Cameos from veteran rocker Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Winkler and Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow, etc) add to the irreverent flavour of the film, while Quentin Tarantino briefly pops up as a hapless hellfire and damnation street preacher. Rodney Dangerfield cracks a lot of hoary old jokes in his brief and largely unnecessary role as Nicky’s grandfather, the original Lucifer.

If you’re a Sandler fan, then you’ll probably have a hell of a good time with Little Nicky; if not then you’ll find this the cinematic equivalent of hell.



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