Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:24 - Released 11/10/00

There has been a rash of films released lately that deal with satanic issues, both from a comedic standpoint (Bedazzled) to the classiest of classic horror stories (The Exorcist). If you want the low comedy version, however, you want Little Nicky, Adam Sandler's goofy supernatural comedy about the ineffectual spawn of Satan who travels to Earth to save dear old Dad.Written by Sandler and long-time partners Tim Herlihy and Steven Brill, and directed by Brill, Little Nicky plays like a middle-school film project, with jokes that wouldn't be funny even if they were delivered well. It has poor effects, a lame story, and one of Sandler's least likable characters to date, but hey, for the 14-year-old kids who buy most of the tickets, it'll probably do just fine.

Nicky (Sandler) is the sweet but weak-willed son of Satan (Harvey Keitel) who spends most of his time in Hell fending off the abuse of his two older and stronger brothers, Adrian (Rhys Ifans) and Cassius (Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr.). When the old man reneges on a promise to make one of his sons the next underworld ruler, Adrian and Cassius decide to ascend to Earth to convert it into their own personal Hades. Their exit, however, freezes the gates of Hell and causes their father to begin deteriorating for lack of souls. With only a week before Dad withers away completely, Nicky must go after his brothers and convince them to come back, aided only by a bulldog named Beefy (voice of Robert Smigel).

Upon reaching Earth, Nicky must learn about eating, sleeping, and various other bodily functions, not to mention avoiding "large, metal objects" in order to stay alive and complete his mission. Although Beefy tries to get him to "release the evil" and thereby overcome his brothers' dark powers, he is hindered by his own good nature, especially after meeting a sweet girl named Valerie (Patricia Arquette), who seems to be the first person ever to like him despite his awkward manner.

This film is pretty much stupid from start to finish, although there are occasions when one is unable to stifle an embarrassed chuckle. Sandler, who was charming and funny in The Wedding Singer, and crafted many enjoyable personae during his stint on Saturday Night Live, seems to prefer broad characters and low-end scripts, since they make up the vast majority of entries on his resumé these days. It is surprising, however, that he was able to convince several big name performers to participate in this weak entry, including not only Keitel but Quentin Tarantino and Rodney Dangerfield, not to mention a host of his former SNL colleagues like Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, Michael McKean, and Jon Lovitz. There's even a surprise appearance by heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne. But the performances of these people make the film look more like a drunken frat party than a movie serious about being funny.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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