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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Little Nicky
Little Nicky
New Line
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 21, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The success of Adam Sandler has been an interesting series of events to watch. After a couple of fairly low-budget goofy comedies ("Happy Gilmore", "Billy Madison"), he began to change things up a bit. "Wedding Singer" was a nice mix of being fairly serious and the usual slapstick. However, "Big Daddy", Sandler's next picture, was an attempt to show even more of Sandler's serious side. That was actually scarier than much of this comic-horror flick, "Little Nicky", which is Sandler's latest offering.

Unfortunately for Sandler, the weirdness of "Little Nicky" seemed to take away from the film's box office to the point where I heard this film blamed for low grosses for Time Warner for the quarter on a CNBC stock-watch program. Anyways, Sandler stars as Nicky, son of Satan(played by none other than Harvey Keitel). Satan doesn't want to retire, so his brothers Cassius (Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.) and Adrian (Rhys Ifans)go off to Earth and freeze the gates behind them, causing their father to lose his energy till he starts falling apart.

Nicky comes to Earth to bring his brothers back and finds that he has a new guide in a talking bulldog named Beefy and a friend in a shy young woman named Valerie(Patricia Arquette, wrong for the film). Actually, that's about all there is to the plot - the slim offering isn't too suprising for a Sandler film. Here, the proceedings are occasionally livened by some celeb cameos, such as Quentin Tarantino and Reese Witherspoon as a valley-girl angel. Robert Smigel steals many of the film's sequences as the voice of talking dog Beefy.

I actually like some of Sandler's films, especially "Happy Gilmore". I haven't really liked anything of the actors since. Those first two films had a goofy, sloppy hilarity especially in scenes like the Bob Barker cameo in "Gilmore". Sandler has also been better - hiding under a weird haircut and strange accent, Sandler seems less interested here. It's also easily the actor's most expensive film to date, with an 80 million dollar budget and some fairly intense visual-effects work and he seems a bit lost in the middle of it all.

At the end of it all, with a film like this, the only real question is, how many good laughs does the film contain? Although there are a couple of times where I laughed loudly (the angels turn on the TV to find "Felicity"), there's also a few segments of the film that feel flatter than they should for long periods (I wonder how much Popeye's Chicken paid for all of the film's product placements). Although definitely not as bad as "Big Daddy" (that courtroom scene in "Big Daddy" was tedious), "Little Nicky" still isn't nearly the laugh-riot that "Gilmore" was.


VIDEO: "Little Nicky" is presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and like all other New Line titles, it looks fantastic. There's really no suprises with the studio's effort here, as sharpness and detail are particularly strong throughout. Theo Van De Sande ("Blade", "Cruel Intentions")'s cinematography also makes the film's visual look more appealing than comedies like this might usually appear. The amount of depth to the image in many of the bright, outdoor sequences is impressive, as well.

The flaws present in this particular presentation are of the "one or two" variety, meaning that they pop up once or twice, but the majority of "Little Nicky" looks crystal clear. A tiny bit of shimmering and literally one or two minor print flaws are all that keeps this from being flawless, although it's quite close.

Colors are bright and rich throughout the movie, from the reds and oranges of hell to the more varied colors of the New York City scenes. Colors are well-saturated and crisp, never displaying any problems. This is a really outstanding effort from New Line that often looks especially fantastic and well-defined.

SOUND: "Little Nicky" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and unlike almost every other new comedy that comes to DVD, "Little Nicky" offers a pretty impressive sound experience. Although yes, most of the film does revolve around the jokes and dialogue, there is some good surround use in the film's more intense sequences and when the characters are in hell. The hell scenes have quite a bit going on, with various sound effects like lightning/thunder and voices placed around the viewer.

There's also a good deal of emphasis placed on the film's metal soundtrack, which fills the room with hard-driving, heavy-bass tunes whenever it enters into the movie. Dialogue sounded fine, natural and clear, with all of the jokes - whether good or bad - equally easy to hear.

MENUS:: As usual, New Line provides some fun animated menus that take the themes of the movie and make them into a great introduction for the movie. Yet, there's some little things with the menu that I didn't quite like. I'm one of the people who generally want to go directly to the next menu or onto the movie - don't hide anything. Here, occasionally you must choose the right path to get to the next menu - there's also a few options on the front menu that lead you right back to the main menu.


Commentary: This is a commentary from actor Adam Sandler, writer Tim Herlihey and writer/director Steven Brill. It's a pretty uneven commentary track - there's a few big laughs occasionally as Sandler rips into his fellow participants, but it becomes obvious that no one here really knows a great deal about filmmaking (their thoughts about how the special effects are done seems to be, "you like, tell the effects guys what you want and, like, it happens!"). If you've listened to any of the Farrelly Brothers ("There's Something About Mary") commentaries, this is a pretty similar affair, with the group pointing out locations and actors. Still, there were a few very funny stories that come up if you're willing to get through some dry periods. Sandler fans may want to check it out.

Commentary: This is a commentary hosted by actor Michael McKean and featuring Blake Clark, Peter Dante, Clint Howard, Rhys Ilfans, Tiny Lister, Jonathan Laughran, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Ozzy Osbourne and last, but not least, Henry Winkler. McKean serves as interviewer and I actually found this track a bit funnier and more interesting to than the track with Sandler and the filmmakers. Most of these comments are screen-specific and, since all the participants are actors, they generally chat with McKean about what it was like to perform their roles as well as any funny stories that they have to share. There are definite stand-outs throughout the track though, and Lovitz is especially hilarious. Some of these interviews are recorded over phone (seemingly similar to one of the tracks on "Meet The Parents"), but the majority of them are recorded with McKean and the particular participant. What I found unfortunate though, is that with the film's PG-13 rating, they edited out the curse words in this commentary (usually though, don't they seem to have the "bonus features are unrated" comments on the back for DVDs now?)

Deleted Scenes: There's a giant amount of deleted footage, making me wonder how long the first rough edition of this film must have been. 20 deleted scenes are included in all, with some of the scenes being extended or alternate cuts of a scene that we see in the movie and some of the scenes being completely new. Some of these scenes are kinda funny, but most are rightly taken out of the film, likely for pacing. It would have been nice to get an optional commentary to find out why these scenes were taken out as well as a "play all" button so the viewer could go from scene to scene without having to go back to the menu. At the end of the deleted scenes section, there's an additional scene that's a funny alternate ending involving Quentin Tarantino's character. Another one of the scenes called "Grandma Fight Club" was also kind of amusing.

Adam Sandler Goes To Hell: A 32 minute promotional documentary about the making of "Little Nicky", this is certainly better than the usual promo documentary feature. It has some very funny moments as we take a look behind-the-scenes of the production with a lot of funny moments as the actors crack-up during scenes and talk about their roles in interviews. There's even some good production information as we are taken on a look at the making of the "hell" sets in the movie and listen to some interviews with the production design team talking about what they looked at for inspiration for the "look". The documentary is split into chapters and does a fine job at taking a look at almost all of the aspects of the production, from the look and effects to the story to the characters and working with the actors. We even hear from the animal trainers on how the dog was trained for its scenes and how the mouth movements were animated.

Satan's Top 40: This is a 17 minute documentary that talks about the history of heavy metal as well as its role in "Little Nicky". Some interesting interviews with the cast and some important people in the metal genre are included.

Theatrical Trailer: The film's trailer in Dolby Digital 5.1
Also: P.O.D Music Video "School Of Hard Knocks", Cast and Crew filmographies.

Final Thoughts: "Little Nicky" does have some funny moments, but for the most part, he still hasn't returned to the kind of comedy film that he does best - simple, amusing idea and basic production values and just let Sandler go free without being covered by an odd haircut, effects or a strange accent. New Line doesn't dissapoint with their effort here, though. They've put together a disc that offers excellent audio/video quality and a group of fine extras. Fans of Sandler will certainly find a lot to like with this DVD. If you're interested and a Sandler fan, it may be worth a rental - if you've seen it and liked it, the DVD is definitely recommended.

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