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'Eight Crazy Nights'

Sandler cartoon is not without warmth, but not for the kids

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If you can get past the bombastic burping, the woman with three breasts and the port-a-potty mishap, "Eight Crazy Nights" proves surprisingly sweet in the end.

Credit and blame writer-producer Adam Sandler, who provides the voices for three cartoon characters (two men and a woman) plus a small herd of deer that seems like a wacky Disney throwback. How else to explain the fact that they help to push a car out of the snow, try on a woman's wigs in her bedroom and distract the cops by forming a pyramid worthy of a cheerleading squad?

"Eight Crazy Nights"

dot.gif RATING: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking, brief drug references

dot.gif STARRING: Adam Sandler

dot.gif DIRECTOR: Seth Kearsley

dot.gif CRITIC'S CALL:


"Eight Crazy Nights," a traditionally and unspectacularly animated movie, is set in Dukesberry, where 33-year-old Davey Stone (voice of Sandler) is the town troublemaker. Once a star basketball player and a model youngster, he now hates Hanukkah and other holidays, drinks too much, skips out on restaurant tabs and leads the cops on a wild chase that lands him in court -- again.

A kindly old man named Whitey (Sandler, again) offers the judge a solution. Make Davey work as a referee for the same youth basketball league that has been Whitey's passion for decades.

Whitey lives with his twin sister, Eleanor (Sandler, yet again), a tiny bald woman with a big butt, wigs and eyeglasses. When Davey loses his tattered home, he's forced to move in with the twins.

Just when it seems Davey might be turning his life around, he lashes out at the very people who have been the kindest to him. As his harsh words to Whitey seem to be coming true -- that nobody in town knows he exists or appreciates his dedication -- Davey must decide whether to skip town or make things right.

"Eight Crazy Nights" may be a cartoon with nine songs, including the closing "Chanukah Song, Part 3," but this is no Disney romp. It has language and crude references befitting its PG-13 rating and, in that regard, gives us the best of Sandler and the worst of Sandler.

It seems to know its teen audience by setting some of the movie in a mall where all of the usual suspects, from the requisite Chinese restaurant in the food court to the athletic footwear store, serve as blatant product placement and plot point. The story also explains the origins of Davey's drastic turnaround and importance of apologizing and rectifying mistakes.

It may close with a signature Sandler song and nice note, but there's plenty of naughty before then.

Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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