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LITTLE NICKY

Review by Andrew Manning (11/00)

Release: 2000, New Line
Starring: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Rodney Dangerfield
Director: Steven Brill
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language, violence
Genre: Comedy


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SUMMARY

When his older brothers attempt to create a hell-on-earth, Little Nicky (Sandler), a son of the devil, must stop them.

THE SUDDEN RUNDOWN

One of Sandler's best.

WHAT'S GOOD

If you're a fan of movies like Austin Powers, you can't help but enjoy Little Nicky, a foolishly outlandish comedy featuring a slew of cameos, Saturday Night Live alumni, and ridiculous situations. The story follows the exploits of its title character Nicky (Adam Sandler), a slow-witted, naive son of Satan. When his rebellious older brothers (Rhys Ifans and Tom Lister) try to turn earth into their own Hell, it's up to Nicky to stop them. But his ignorance of human nature could prove to be his downfall, and Nicky discovers that the underworld doesn't even compare to New York City.

If this premise appeals to you, then Little Nicky is a can't-miss. Teaming up with Sandler is a huge cast full of comic talent, sprinkled with appearances from SNL alumni who were part of good SNL casts (hey--anyone remember when Saturday Night Live didn't suck on a regular basis?). Patricia Arquette stars as an unfashionable fashion student named Valerie whom Nicky falls in love with; Harvey Keitel is the Devil; the always hilarious Rodney Dangerfield is Grandpa Lucifer, who "gets no respect" even in the underworld; Kevin Nealon is the Gatekeeper of Hell; Allen Covert is Nicky's dorky roommate. Also making appearances are Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Michael McKean, Quentin Tarantino, Henry Winkler, Reese Witherspoon, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Harlem Globetrotters. Rob Schneider also has a cameo that has become self-parody.

Peter Dante and Jonathan Loughran, perhaps the funniest supporting characters, star as Nicky's heavy-metal roadies/disciples Peter and John. Awed by Nicky's otherworldly powers, they follow him around and come across like a funny Pauly Shore and a retarded James Hetfield. Along with a talking dog, they're all Nicky has in his quest to thwart his bullying older brothers.

By now, we're all used to watching Sandler play the idiot. By the time The Waterboy came around, I was sort of sick of it and wondering how all his movies scored $150+ million at the box office. Fortunately, this time around, Sandler plays a different type of idiot. Rather than a whipped dullard like Bobby Boucher, he's playing someone who is utterly clueless because of his origins--he's a spawn of Hell, for cryin' out loud! The way he talks is reminiscent of a character Sandler did on SNL's Weekly Update--a music enthusiast whose mom "threw out his concert tickets because she thought they were drugs."

Part of Nicky's character development includes learning to use his hell-born powers. But while they're potentially very formidable, he mostly manifests unremarkable miracles, such as transforming Coke into Pepsi. He also makes humorous revelations throughout the movie, such as telling his roadies that Ozzy Osbourne was straightforward in his Satanic lyrics, while bands like Chicago were really the ones with hidden messages in their songs.

As the leading lady, Patricia Arquette comes across as cute, and makes a good match with Sandler's Nicky--they're both innocent and stuck in bad situations. While the romantic scenes can get corny at times, it's just as good a take on the "outcast learns about true love" angle as anything else in the genre.

With Adam Sandler playing a character who is truly a character, and with its supporting cast of comic talent, Little Nicky is easily among his best films, and proves to be one of the more entertaining comedies of the year.


WHAT'S BAD

As with most of Sandler's movies, it's largely hit or miss--either you love it or hate it. In addition, some of the gags get old in short order, and some of the characters aren't up to par with the rest of the cast. Personally, I didn't find the talking dog all that funny, for example.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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