Time for another holiday edition of In Defense Of…
Oh, let’s travel back to 2002, remember back in a time when Adam Sandler was actually considered likeable to many people unlike today, where he’s most reviled by pretty much everybody. The movie that many consider to be the film that started the downward trend for Sandler’s career was Eight Crazy Nights but….was it really that bad of a film?:
Eight Crazy Nights is a 2002 American adult animated holiday musical comedy film directed by Seth Kearsley and produced, co-written by and starring Adam Sandler, in his first voice-acting role. Unlike most mainstream holiday films, it centers on Jewish characters during the Hanukkah season, as opposed to religious or secular celebration of Christmas. Despite being animated in the style of television holiday specials, the film is adult oriented, featuring significant scatological humor, and focusing on such topics as alcoholism, bereavement, and depression.
This is Happy Madison Productions’ first animated film. The film’s title is taken from a line in Sandler’s series of songs called The Chanukah Song that compares the gift-giving traditions of Christmas and Chanukah: “Instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights!”. Additionally, a new version of The Chanukah Song was played over the film’s closing credits.
Adam Sandler invites you to share some holiday cheer in the new, no-holds-barred musical comedy Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights. Davey Stone, a 33-year old party animal, finds himself in trouble with the law after his wild ways go too far. In keeping with the holiday spirit, the judge gives Davey one last chance at redemption-spend the holiday performing community service as the assistant referee for the youth basketball league or go to jail. Davey thinks he’s gotten off easy until he meets Whitey Duvall, the eccentric, elf-like head referee. The mismatch between Whitey’s good heart and never-ending optimism and Davey’s constant troublemaking soon have them both wondering if going to jail wouldn’t have been easier! In this new, full-length animated feature about basketball, old girlfriends, holiday spirits, and the mall, Adam Sandler voices the three lead characters of Whitey, Davey, and Whitey’s fraternal twin sister Eleanore!
Something you need to remember about this timeperiod, 2002 was the beginning of that downward spiral for hand drawn animation at the box office, 2D animation was not seen as a big threat anymore as CG animation and in fact, on this same weekend this came out, Disney had released Treasure Planet, which ended up being a massive financial failure for the studio. So, the fact that somebody was going to do an Adam Sandler comedy using animation in the style of classic television series, it was always going to be a risky experiment.
Naturally, a lot of people were not too receptive on the idea and many people have even said it’s not only one of the worst Christmas movies of all time but one of the worst animated movies of all time and…yeah, I can tell you that both of those statements are completely false because I’ve seen FAR worse than this movie.
Honestly, this movie actually does work a lot more than most people would give it credit for. For one thing, this is a gorgeously animated movie, this animation studio that put the film together really did their research in trying to make this holiday special caliber animation, which is more than you would expect for an animated film like this.
Also, give Adam Sandler credit here, he actually does a decent job ranging his voices in this, maybe not with Whitey all that much but with Eleanore, he really does manage to change his voice around to give that impression that it’s somebody else doing that voice at first.
The songs themselves surprisingly work really well, they are catchy songs and are nicely handled with a score by Teddy Castellucci and Mark & Ray Ellis, the latter working with Filmation in the past.
Now, of course, there are some negatives that I can agree with most people on. For one thing, neither Davey nor Whitey are likeable characters in this, you try to find sympathy with these guys but each one of them get so annoying and they just have no charisma to them and you watch both of them and get this feeling like these two deserve what they are getting for how they act. Davey is too much of a crazed drunken idiot that you really feel no sympathy for him at all and Whitey is too much of a weakling that can’t stand up for himself that by the end, you never feel that satisfaction that his reward is fully justified.
The biggest problem with the movie is that the story is padded out for no reason at all, this movie is only 76 minutes long and yet there’s padding and by padding, I mean pulling the same bullshit The Grinch pulled where you think the main hero is going to finally turn around and be a good guy but then somebody brings up the past and he snaps and goes back to his old ways making the whole segment prior completely pointless. They do that shit here, Whitey brings up the tragic story of how Davey’s parents were killed in a black ice accident and Davey, who had been reformed up to that point, goes back to his douchebag ways when the story is brought up again thus making the last 10 minutes of the movie 100% pointless. It could’ve seriously been taken out of the movie and nothing would have been lost. I know what you’re thinking, wouldn’t that take away from the purpose of the movie? Well…yes but then again, you can fill that time up with something more interesting and exciting but nope, we got what we got and of course, the movie suffers because of it.
Despite those flaws, I really don’t think Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights deserves the huge backlash it gets, it’s definitely got its’ moments that make it somewhat watchable but the things that do hurt it most definitely hurt the movie. Not up there with classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, or many other holiday classics but certainly one to watch at least once every holiday season.
MOVIES MENTIONED IN THIS POST
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