Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Adam Sandler, Rhys Ifans, Patricia Arquette, Robert Smigel, Allen Covert, Tommy Lister Jr. and Harvey Keitel
Plot: When Satan’s (Keitel) two eldest sons try to take his throne, it is up to the runt of the family, Little Nicky (Sandler) to save his father, Hell and Earth.
Adam Sandler comedies can be split into two categories: ones where he plays the everyday man stuck into an amusing situation (Grown Ups, Big Daddy), or the ones where he totally reinvents himself with a chameleon like performance. Little Nicky is easily the latter, Sandler almost unrecognisable as the son of Satan, a moody teenager with a hunchback, speech impediment and an embarrassing hairstyle. Your enjoyment of this film depends on how clever and funny you think Sandler is. Because if his appearance annoys you for the off, you are in for a very bad experience.
This helping of Sandler comedy revolves around Hell, dragging the Devil, angels and purgatory into the gross-out Sandler comedy world. Cue Hitler lining up for his 4pm appointment with the Prince of Darkness stuffing a pineapple up his rectum. This makes for the tone that Little Nicky is about to set. It is a comedy aimed at teenagers that will find the concept of a demon with breasts on his head knee-shakingly hilarious. This isn’t so much a bad thing, as long as it finds its way to the right audience. There are solid jokes written in for Sandler’s guide to surviving Earth – a demon trapped in the body of a randy dog – that is bound to grab the best laughs of the movie. The devil angle also makes for the Heavy Metal fans getting a large helping of the jokes, with two stoner Metalheads tagging along with Nicky, because he apparently symbolises everything about their lifestyle. As the plot gets darker and bloodier, they treat proceedings like they have won a ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The jokes hit constantly every minute, hoping that whenever a duff gag comes along – the movie clings to cameos that not every audience member will understand – you would have forgotten about that by the time the next helping of laughter kicks in. The problem with Sandler’s juvenile humour is that whenever he begins to ascend into something more meaningful, it actually ends up hurting the project, because you feel like Sandler could have been onto something. Take Harvey Keitel, as the Devil. Keitel is a tremendously good actor, totally committed to his performances and often able to bring out elements of characters few other performers would have been able to achieve. But with Little Nicky, you just get embarrassed at this career choice for Keitel. This feeling is made worse because you just begin to want to see a serious movie where Keitel plays Satan – that film sounds amazing. However, as it stands, whenever Keitel begins to give Little Nicky an air of respectability, the script asks him to make lewd comments that just reminds everyone the kind of film they are watching. There is a place for Sandler movies, but that place isn’t on Keitel’s CV. It just about scrapes the quality test, making it, hardly the best Sandler, but one of the more unique ones. For that reason, it will probably go down as a fan favourite, deserved or not.
Final Verdict: Little Nicky is frustratingly hard to analyse, because it is more a question of taste than anything else. Sandler fans will enjoy however.