Of Adam Sandler's most recent string of movies, I find that I'm most partial to THE WEDDING SINGER, which I think is his best and most commercially accessible movie. Of course, his cruder and more offensive film THE WATERBOY had me rolling on the floor with hysterical laughter. With BIG DADDY, Sandler tried to cross over and attract a more family oriented audience, but with that move, he lost some of his edge, which robbed that effort of his more biting humor. This brings us to Sandler's latest offering- LITTLE NICKY ($25), which is a whole lot better than BIG DADDY, but somewhat shy of the success of THE WEDDING SINGER and THE WATERBOY.
I'll be the first to admit that LITTLE NICKY ($25) isn't great cinema, but I found this hell-raising comedy to be pretty damn funny. In LITTLE NICKY, Sandler portrays the title character, one of the Devil's three offspring, who are in line to the thrown of Hell. While, Nicky's despicable older brothers Adrian (Rhys Ifans) and Cassius (Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr.) would seem to be on the fast track to taking over the family business, Little Nicky remains his father's favorite. However, when Satan (Harvey Keitel) announces that he has decided to retain his thrown for another ten thousand years, Adrian and Cassius decide to branch out on their own and create a new Hell on Earth. Unfortunately, their hasty exit freezes the Gates of Hell, which prevents damned souls from entering Hades and causes the reining King of Hell to begin decomposing. Of course, the only entity in existence that can save Satan is Little Nicky, who is promptly dispatched to the world above to bring his wayward brothers home. At this point, LITTLE NICKY becomes a fish out of water story, in which we find the naive Nicky unprepared to deal with becoming almost human or a world he doesn't fully understand. While LITTLE NICKY does have a few moments of sweetness, the movie features plenty of outrageous, crude and offensive humor that more than compensates. The cast of LITTLE NICKY features Patricia Arquette, Rodney Dangerfield, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran, Robert Smigel, Reese Witherspoon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Michael McKean, Quentin Tarantino, Carl Weathers, Blake Clark, Rob Schneider, John Witherspoon, Clint Howard, Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne and Leah Lail.
New Line Home Video has released LITTLE NICKY on DVD as part of their Platinum Series in a wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. LITTLE NICKY is framed at 1.85:1 and it comes as little surprise that this New Line title looks absolutely fantastic. The image is so crisp it practically snaps and the level of detail is truly excellent. Colors are bold and strongly saturated, without a hint of instability. Flesh tones appear wholly natural and very appealing. Blacks are dead on perfect, plus the picture boasts superb depth and shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer is pristine, without so much as a stray speck anywhere. Digital compression artifacts are nowhere to be seen on this cleanly authored DVD.
For a comedy, LITTLE NICKY features a surprisingly aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Sound effects move around effortlessly through the spacious sonic environment. At times, split surround activity can be pronounced, but it still maintains a cohesive presence with the forward soundstage. Dialogue reproduction is very clean and fully intelligible, despite Sandler's bizarre vocal inflections as Little Nicky. The bass channel is pretty solid; giving the sound effects just the right amount of punch. An English Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.
Animation and sound effects have been utilized to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD's array of supplemental features. Two running audio commentaries have been included on the DVD. The first track features director Steven Brill, co-writer Tim Herlihy and star Adam Sandler. This commentary is somewhat amusing and features some interesting bits on the production. The second commentary exists purely for entertainment value and is the must listen track on the DVD. Featuring cast members Jon Lovitz, Henry Winkler, Blake Clark, Peter Dante, Clint Howard, Rhys Ifans, Tiny Lister, Kevin Nealon, Jonathan Loughran, Ozzy Osbourne and host/moderator Michael McKean, this track is laugh inducing and is the audio commentary for folks that don't normally listen to them.
Adam Sandler Goes To Hell: The Making Of Little Nicky is an enjoyable twenty-minute featurette that includes interviews with the principals, as well as a look behind-the-scenes and some details on the film's special effects work. Since heavy metal music is featured prominently in LITTLE NICKY, the DVD also includes Satan's Top 40, an interesting and somewhat amusing featurette on that particular musical genre. There are 8 deleted/extended scenes on the DVD that are presented in 16:9 enhanced wide screen. A P.O.D. music video for the song School Of Hard Knocks can also be found amongst the supplements. A theatrical trailer, plus cast/crew filmographies fill out the video supplements. LITTLE NICKY is also a DVD-ROM enabled disc that includes the complete screenplay, theatrical web site, and screensavers.
LITTLE NICKY is crude devilish fun that had me laughing quite a bit. The DVD looks and sounds great, plus it include some fun supplements. So, if you're a Sandler fan (or even if you aren't) New Line's DVD is worth picking up.
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