Eight Crazy Nights review by Mike Long

It seems that whenever I review a film starring Adam Sandler, I always defend myself and make excuses for being a Sandler fan. Yet, this is a pointless exercise, for according to the box-office receipts for Sandler's films, I am but one of millions who enjoy his films, even the notorious Little Nicky. But, things may change with Sandler's first foray into animation, Eight Crazy Nights. Apparently even Sandler's loyal fans avoided this one, as it grossed only about $24 million in the U.S., compared to the $134 million take of Anger Management. Eight Crazy Nights has now come to DVD, but will it be welcomed home for the holidays?

Eight Crazy Nights is an animated holiday musical, which has dragged into the weird world of Adam Sandler. Davey Stone (voiced by Adam Sandler) is a 33-year old man who hates the holidays and is generally disliked by everyone in the town of Dukesberrry. When Davey is arrested for destroying the town's holiday display, local basketball referee Whitey Duval (voiced by Adam Sandler) suggests that Davey perform community service by helping with basketball at the community center. In order to avoid jail, Davey agrees, but he doesn't want to work with Whitey, who is a very odd 70-year old man, whose feet are two different sizes, and who lives with his equally odd sister, Eleanore (voiced by Adam Sandler). But, Whitey is a trooper, and is determined to help Davey with his anti-social ways, and Whitey is convinced that this will be the year in which he wins the "Dukesberry Patch", the town's highest honor. Along the way, Davey begins to work with Benjamin (voiced by Austin Stout), one of the kids at the community center, and learns that Benjamin's mother is Jennifer (voiced by Jackie Titone), whom Davey had been friends with in childhood. Can all of these people help to melt Davey's cold heart?

Every time Adam Sandler releases a new project, I'm convinced that it's going to be much more mainstream and not as weird as his previous works...and I'm always wrong. Eight Crazy Nights is plenty weird. As a matter of fact, it's actually too weird for its own good, and ruins any chance that it could have had for being a good movie. The main problem with the film is the character of Davey and the tone which he sets for the rest of the film. To put it mildly, Davey is a major asshole. Sandler's characters always have a somewhat jerky quality, with his take in Big Daddy being the rudest thus far, but Davey is simply a mean person and it's impossible to like him. There is no way that Sandler could have ever portrayed this character in a live-action film, as audiences would've never forgiven him. Davey's personality make the first 45-minutes of the film a true challenge to endure, as we are basically given only Davey and the incredibly weird Whitey to latch onto. But, the film does pick up in third act, as Davey has has inevitable change of heart (trust me, I'm not spoiling anything here).

Davey's epiphany (which should surprise no one) illustrates the schizophrenic nature of this film. On the one hand, you have a colorfully animated holiday film complete with festive songs. But, the vast majority of the movie is a "comedy" with nihilistic gross-out humor. Granted, there are some very funny moments in the film, but the overall bad attitude lingering over Eight Crazy Nights makes it hard to enjoy. The film's saving grace comes in the form of a group of deer (voiced by Adam Sandler) who assist Whitey. These scene-stealing deer offer some truly funny moments and show that you can be weird without being crude. To give credit where its due, Sandler does a fine job providing the voices for three (human) characters, but that vocal talent can't carry this confused movie.

Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment lights up Eight Crazy Nights on DVD. This Special Edition disc contains both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as it's very sharp and clear, showing on signs of grain. There are some moments where artifacting is evident and horizontal lines create some video problems. The colors look fantastic, giving the image a great deal of depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue, and makes the songs sound great (but not better than they actually are). There is some clever use of surround sound here, and while the bass channel isn't used frequently, it states its presence when it is.

Proving that any movie can become a "Special Edition", the DVD of Eight Crazy Nights is a two-disc set. Disc 1 is kicked off with two audio commentaries. The first features writer/producer Allen Covert along with Whitey and Eleanor (Sandler, of course). Like the movie, this is a true oddity, as Sandler allows Whitey and Eleanor to ramble and constantly ask, "Who's this?", as Covert tries to keep from losing it. This track supplies some laughs, but zero information about the movie. The secondary commentary is referred to as the "Technical Commentary", and it features director Seth Kearsley, art director Philip A. Cruden, head of animation Stephan Franck, effects supervisor John Bermudes, and executive producer Ken Tsumura. This talk is far more serious, as this group talks about the production of the film, and Sandler's involvement. Nearly paralleling the weirdness of the film is "A Day with the Meatball", a 2-minute short (which is presented in anamorphic widescreen!), in which the camera follows Sandler's dog, Metball through an adventure-filled day. Next up we have Sandler, along with special guest Rob Schneider, performing "Chanukah Song, Part 3". This 4-minute video appears to have been taken from an episode of "Saturday Night Live". The theatrical trailer for Eight Crazy Nights is included here, and it's presented in 16 x 9 widescreen. Disc 1 concludes with a commercial for the NBA featuring Davey and Whitey. Did this commercial actually air and did viewers have any idea who these characters were?

The extras continue on Disc 2, which has a lousy menu system, similar to the second disc of The Lion King. There are character profiles for Davey (4 minutes), Eleanor (4 minutes), The Deer (2 minutes), Whitey (4 minutes), Jennifer & Benjamin (3 minutes), and the Townspeople of Dukesberry (5 minutes), in which director Seth Kearsley, character animator Stephan Franck, Sandler, and producer Allen Covert discuss how each character was created, designed, and voiced. There are 13 deleted scenes, which can be viewed with or without commentary from Covert. Most of these are in storyboard form. With "Animation Progression", the viewer can use the multi-angle feature to view how four different sequences progressed from storyboard form to final animation. "Creating Dukesberry" (5 minutes) explores the creation of the animated town, which was based on Sandler's hometown, while "Voices of Dukesberry" (5 minutes) looks at the guest stars in the film, such as Jon Lovitz and Kevin Nealon. Composers Teddy Castelucci and Marc Ellis, along with songwriter Brooks Arthur discuss the music of Eight Crazy Nights in "Dukesberry Sings" (6 minutes). And finally, we have an "HBO First Look" at Eight Crazy Nights, which is made up most of clips and doesn't explore how or why the film was made.

5 out of 10 Jackasses

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