Little Nicky hell to watch

Adam Sandler made some great comedies. With his friend Tim Herlihy, Sandler wrote and starred in comedic masterpieces like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy and Big Daddy. However, this time out with Little Nicky, they missed the mark by a long shot.

Little Nicky was co-written and directed by Steve Brill, who also wrote all three Mighty Ducks movies, as well as the recent laugh-free Ready to Rumble. The movie feels like another marginally amusing Saturday Night Live sketch painfully stretched to feature length. This is reinforced by ex-SNL alumni guest stars Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider, David Spade and even Ellen Cleghorn.

The rest of the cast is quite talented, with Harvey Keitel amiably playing the Devil, Rodney Danger-field as Lucifer (the now retired founder of Hell), Quentin Tarantino as a blind preacher, Rhys Ifans as Nicky’s smart brother, Reese Witherspoon as Nicky’s mother, and Patricia Arquette as the requisite love interest. It’s sad to see all this talent in a movie that gives them nothing to do. There are many impressive special effects as well, but no purpose behind them; they are merely sound and fury, signifying nothing–although the sight of Henry Winkler being swarmed by thousands of bees should really be seen to be believed.

The plot concerns the Devil’s decision to keep his throne for another 10,000 years rather then pass the job on to one of his sons. Nicky is overjoyed at the news, but his two insane brothers are outraged, and leave the underworld to create a Hell on Earth. For inexplicable reasons, their departure both freezes the fiery gates of Hell, and causes their father to begin decomposing.

The only one who can go to Earth and bring them back is their half-wit brother, Nicky. On Earth he is guided by a dog named Mr. Beefy, and makes a few friends, like his repressed actor roommate and two metalhead "disciples." It is on Earth that he meets Arquette and begins to feel love for the first time. There are various misadventures on Earth, many producing smiles, but too few inducing actual laughter.

Sandler has had some irritating voices in his movies, most notably his lispy whine in The Waterboy. He tops himself in Little Nicky with a breathy speech impediment courtesy of a shovel to the face by one of his brothers. The only thing more annoying than Sandler’s voice is that of his canine mentor, voiced by Robert Smigel.

The movie will be successful if only because of Sandler’s gigantic cult following. Many may even find it hilarious, unless they are older than 12.

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