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Eight Crazy Nights

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Eight Crazy Nights
from Film Forum, 12/05/02

The holiday season's other animated feature, Eight Crazy Nights, failed to attract any religious press raves.

Comedian Adam Sandler made a strong impression on critics earlier this year with Punch-Drunk Love, in which he played a young emotionally damaged man learning to control his anger. It was considered a dramatic departure from his usual juvenile behavior. Since it involved real acting and serious issues, the film turned off most of Sandler's fans, who prefer adolescent humor to thought-provoking comedy. Well, fans of big-screen flatulence, never fear! Just in time for Hanukah, Sandler's back with an animated holiday special packed with lowbrow laughs.

Phil Boatwright says, "Evidently, [Sandler] wanted to bring Hanukah to the attention of those unfamiliar with the Jewish celebration, so he's wrapped his story around those holidays. This portrait of the custom is about as reverent as an Alpo commercial. Sandler is funny, there is no getting around it. And the film exhibits something approximating a life lesson (bitter man finds redemption), but it is crude in the extreme. It's downright vulgar. Be warned, parents, this one isn't for the normal family." Lynn Nusser (Preview) echoes that opinion: "While this animated musical is funny, its humor is too vulgar for kids and too immature for adults."

Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) explains. "As flawed as Eight Crazy Nights is, one cannot responsibly ignore its freakish nobility. The morality tale is intact. It's just encased in deer dung—literally. It's a juxtaposition so jarring it's likely to find favor with no one. Hardcore fans of animated debauchery (such as can be found in South Park) will hate its sappy ending and 'tiresome' life lessons. The rest of us will despise its vulgar asides, shameless innuendo, and cruel jests."

Ed Blank (Catholic News) agrees: "Audiences in search of seasonal sentiments won't want to wade through the movie's first hour. Sandler's core audience is just as likely to find the concluding scenes too sappy for what leads up to them. Davey's inevitable redemption … isn't just unpersuasive. It becomes a license to let him behave as outrageously as he can beforehand."

Whether or not mainstream critics celebrate Hanukah, they certainly aren't celebrating Sandler's movie. Bruce Fetts (Entertainment Weekly) gives it a failing grade, saying "[It's] the most ill-conceived animated comedy since the 1991 dog Rover Dangerfield. Eight Crazy Nights' doesn't just cram as many poop jokes as possible into the longest 71 minutes of your life. Sandler actually has the chutzpah to expect you to care about his caricatures." Roger Ebert exclaims, "Heaven help the unsuspecting families … expecting a jolly animated holiday funfest. The holidays aren't very cheerful in Sandlerville. If there was ever a movie where the upbeat ending feels like a copout, this is the one."