Little Nicky (2001)

So the other day I’m in this local pawn shop which usually only sells second hand musical instruments and third hand power tools, when I notice a stack of used DVD’s under one of the glass counters. At the bottom of the stack lies Adam Sandler’s DVD box set which includes the films Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and Bulletproof. While examining the set I see that the front of the box says “$40” in grease pencil … which has a line through it and “$30” written directly below it … which also has a line through it, with “$25” written at the bottom.

To tell the truth, I’m not a huge Adam Sandler fan. I think in SNL-skit-length doses he’s tolerable, but his movie career has consisted of movies that, for the most part, are either stupid, silly, or just plain don’t make sense. I passed on The Waterboy, and only caught Big Daddy due to the fact it was on every movie channel for months at a time. After treading my way through the box set, and hearing friends’ rave reviews, I decided to rent Little Nicky and give Sandler another chance.

If you’ve ever said, “there’s no way in HELL I’ll ever watch another Sandler film,” you’ll enjoy the setting of his latest flick, Little Nicky. Sandler plays Little Nicky, the runt of Satan’s three children. Satan (Harvey Keitel) has reigned Hell over the past 10,000 years, and must choose which of his three children will follow in his footsteps. His choices are Adrian (Rhys Ifans), Cassius (Tom Lister Jr.), or Little Nicky, probably the nicest guy in Hell and the most seemingly normal of the bunch, albiet a little slow and blessed with a speech impediment after a “shovel incident”. Considering his choices, Satan makes probably the most rational decision of the film and decides that he will continue to reign Hell for another 10,000 years. This sends Adrian and Cassius into a rage, and they decide if they cannot rule Hell, the duo will head to Earth and will create their own Hell there. Unfortunately in the process of leaving, they freeze the gates of Hell, blocking all damned souls from entering. Daddy Satan begins to decompose, and he will totally disappear (a’la Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future) unless Little Nicky is able to go to Earth, capture the two renegade brothers in a whisky flask, and return to Hell with the brothers in tow within 7 days.

And thus, the adventure begins. Once on Earth, Nicky teams up with a talking dog (Robert Smigel, who is one of the most endearing characters of the flick), a couple of headbanger groupies (Peter Dante and Jonathan Loughran, who’s acting credits include the Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, and The Waterboy), roomate Todd (Allen Covert) who acts gay but isn’t (or is he …), and Valerie (Patricia Arquette), the dopey girlfriend who makes a perfect match for Nicky.

And while we’re name dropping … Little Nicky also stars (or at least features) Rodney Dangerfield, Reese Witherspoon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Michael McKean, Quentin Tarantino, Carl Weathers, Rob Schneider, Henry Winkler, Regis Philbin, Dan Marino, Mancow … and Ozzy Osbourne. How does a retard like Adam Sandler garner such friends and favors? Sure, the SNL alumni I understand, but Henry Winkler? It’s just like Pauly Shore. Pauly Shore is an idiot, and yet I always see him hanging out with the elite of Hollywood. Hanging out with Pauly Shore will get you nothing in life. Hell, BEING Pauly Shore hasn’t even got HIM a whole Hell of a lot in life. At least hanging out with Adam Sandler will get you … well, a cameo in an Adam Sandler film.

The plot meanders as does Nicky’s search for his brothers. Seeing as though his brothers can “possess” people and rarely look like themselves, it’s pretty amazing that he’s able to track them down so quickly in New York. For the record, I lose the TV remote in my house at least twice a day. That’s in one room, not all of New York. And, when I find it, it hasn’t taken on the shape of the aquarium or the sofa or even a different remote – it still looks like it did when I lost it. And speaking of surprises, I won’t sit here and pick apart the logistics of a Sandler comedy, but no one in the film is freaked out or even mildly surprised when Nicky’s pet dog talks to them. Maybe I’m in the outs here, apparently I’m the only one surprised that Adam Sandler (a guy who is famous for writing silly songs and being “Opera Man”) has a movie career. Back to the film though (and speaking of surprises), it’s amazing that no one Little Nicky introduces himself to as the son of Satan seems really surprised. When he’s flying around Manhattan and knocking on people’s 6th floor apartment windows, the most he gets is a shot of mace in the face – not a scream, yelp, or panicky person in site. And, in downtown Manhattan in mid-evening, there’s not a soul to be seen in the streets. The biggest surprise is that Little Nicky would be about to outwit anyone at all, much less his two older brothers who have been training for the legion of evil while Nicky has spent time making “metal compilation tapes” and playing air guitar in his room.

All nit-picking aside, this movie is probably dead on for it’s target audience – young, teenage, heavy-metal fans. And if you WERE one of those kids (and who here wasn’t?) you’ll at least get a few chuckles out of some of the gags (listening to backwards messages on a Chicago album comes to mind).

The film’s soundtrack contains many metal cliche’s – Linkin Park, Incubus, Filter, POD, and the Deftones all make appearances. Powerman 5000 seems to have replaced White Zombie as the metal soundtrack cliche by adding “When World’s Collide” to the mix. Disturbed and Cypress Hill add the only interesting tracks to the soundtrack, if that tells you anything.

The DVD contains several extra features, including 21 deleted scenes, two commentary tracks, a behind the scenes documentary, a heavy metal documentary titled “Satan’s Top 40”, and a music video from POD. To be honest, I didn’t make it through all the extras during my 2 day rental, although I did catch bits and pieces of each of them. The commentaries all seemed informative, I just couldn’t force myself to watch the movie more than once in two days. The deleted scenes were quite interesting – most of them seem to have been removed to drop Little Nicky from an R rating down to a PG-13. For example, in one scene during the movie, Satan’s two older offspring are seen playing darts. When they show the dart boards before the game begins, you can see that the center of the dart boards are actually people’s faces. When the dart throwing is going on, the game is shown from behind the dart boards, so you never see a dart actually stick into a person’s face. In the deleted scene, you get several shots of the people’s faces with darts sticking in them. Their faces are painted like bulls-eye’s so it’s funnier than it is violent, but they must’ve found it offensive. Several of the other violent scenes were trimmed down as well, such as when Nicky loses a “mind wrestling” game and spends a few minutes hitting his head on a table and punching himself in the crotch. And POD’s music video … I just don’t understand this band. They want to be the Latin version of Korn, they bill themselves as a Christian Band, and they lend their song and video to a movie about the devil and his children. Color me confused.

If you’re a hard-core Sandler fan, you’ll dig it (and have probably already seen it). If you’re a regular reader of White Trash Devil, you’ll probably get a few laughs out of the gags and enjoy the cameos. If you’re looking for high-brow humor or hard core evil, should should probably skip this Hellish nightmare.

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