A poorly concieved project from Adam Sandler, this animated feature apparently was an attempt for Sandler to return to the lowbrow antics that made him famous, appeal to the younger audience lost by "Punch-Drunk Love" and manage to throw in some songs and album promotion (not to mention product placement), too. Kids will be interested, yet parents will find that the PG-13 rating covers a wealth of bathroom humor, several curse words drinking/alcohol references and, as the MPAA describes, "brief drug references".
The picture opens with Davey (voiced by Sandler) getting drunk at a Chinese restaurant, then skipping out on the bill. The cops give chase, and it's not long before Davey is brought before a judge. Whitey (Sandler, offering a headache-inducing, high-pitched voice) is an older gentleman who runs the town's youth basketball league. He needs an assistant and convinces the judge to let Davey into his custody.
I don't need to tell anyone who's seen a holiday movie where this is headed: Davey learns the value of friendship, loyalty, the meaning of the holiday season and is generally redeemed by the love of a good woman - in this case, Jennifer (voiced by Jackie Titone, who married Sandler earlier this year), his old grade-school sweetheart.
The film's humor rarely works, because it's more the variety of taking any bathroom humor the writers can come up with and throwing it in, rather than working up to a joke out of a situation (which made Sandler's terrific "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" work as well as they did). "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" may have been cruder, but it was also much more clever and actually delivered jokes with exceptional timing.
As for "8 Crazy Nights", the fact that two of the main characters - Whitey and his sister, Eleanore (both voiced by Sandler) have voices that aren't funny and terribly shrill doesn't help, either. The film's many musical numbers are typically mediocre (musically, at least) Sandler tunes that occasionally amuse, but mostly ramble. The animation is barely a step above Saturday morning fare, although it does look especially good on this DVD transfer.
Overall, this is a product that comes out of Sandler's ability to do whatever amuses him at the moment. It's an unfortunate situation that has allowed the previously funny comedian to put less and less effort into his latest works. However, this is certainly a new low point.
VIDEO: "8 Crazy Nights" is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame by Columbia/Tristar. The picture quality on the anamorphic widescreen presentation was quite surprising. Although the animation isn't terribly complex, it looked quite detailed on this transfer and occasionally, even took on a three-dimensional appearance. Sharpness and definition remained consistently excellent.
The only faults that were noticed were a few instances of minor shimmer and a speck or two on the print. No edge enhancement or compression artifacts were noticed. The film's color palette looked about as good as it probably can, appearing nicely saturated and vivid.
SOUND: "8 Crazy Nights" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in Dolby Digital 5.1. Unfortunately, this is a pretty limited soundtrack, with minimal surround use for either effects or score. Dialogue remained clear, though.
Commentaries: Producer/cowriter Allen Covert is joined by Sandler, who "plays" characters Whitey and Eleanor during the commentary. Making the characters less shrill-sounding and coming up with material on-the-spot that's not entirely comprised of bathroom humor, this commentary has moments that are funnier than anything in the movie. The second commentary on the DVD is a technical commentary, with the film's director, executive producer and members of the animation staff talking. Their commentary is pretty amusing, as well, as the animators talk about trying to keep things down to a PG-13 and chat about trying to get the film together with a smaller-than-usual crew (starting their production in small offices that had no heat or air and then finally getting into a studio).
A Day With the Meatball: This is a short film that apparently played before the feature in theaters. All it is is Sandler's giant, slobbering dog walking around town.
Also on disc 1: Music video for Sandler's "Chanukah Song 3", trailers for "8 Crazy Nights" and other Sandler films and NBA promo.
Animation Progression: This feature is one of several that can be found on the second disc. Here, you can find multi-angle versions of four scenes ("Food Court", "Pick-Up Game Conclusion", "Technical Foul" finale and "Bum Biddy" beginning) - the first angle shows the storyboards, the second shows rough animation and the last shows the final animation as seen in the film.
Featurettes: The second disc includes several short featurettes that look into the development of both the characters and town. An HBO "First Look" 12-minute promotional piece is also included.
Deleted Scenes: 11 deleted scenes are offered, each presented in rough animated form and with optional commentary by Allen Covert.
Final Thoughts: I laughed at the trailer, I hoped for the best and got the worst. "8 Crazy Nights" could have been a sharply funny look at the holidays from Sandler, but it instead largely seems like a collection of jokes that weren't good enough to make it into Sandler's feature films. Fans of the film will find a lot to like, though, as the film's presentation quality is good and there's plenty of supplements. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it, however.