Film comedies are subjective, perhaps the most subjective of any genre. What one person finds funny may be entirely different from what someone else finds funny. Your background, personal experiences, education — basically your entire life up to the minute you hear a joke determines whether you laugh at it.
So all a film critic can do is say whether he laughed at the film, and then try to explain what sort of humor the film employs, to help the reader ascertain whether he will agree or disagree with the critic’s assessment.
Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights” made me laugh about four times. It strikes me as an excessively gross, dull film, an animated hybrid of “Jackass” and “South Park,” but lacking the originality or wit of either of those sophomoric TV series.
Sandler provides the voice for Davey Stone, who looks and acts a good deal like Sandler, which I don’t necessarily mean as a compliment. Davey is the terror of the town of Dukesberry, constantly engaging in acts of public vandalism and mayhem, especially around the holidays. To keep from being put in prison after the latest stunt — he destroyed the town’s Hanukkah/Christmas ice sculpture — he is put in the custody of Whitey (voice of Sandler again), an old man who referees youth basketball. Whitey and his twin sister, Eleanore (Sandler again), then have the task of reforming Davey, melting his heart, and so on.
Whitey is a sweet, likable character; naturally, he is perpetually abused by the cruel, psychotic Davey. Davey is our protagonist, remember, and he’s thoroughly unsympathetic. In most of Sandler’s films, as irritating as he can be, at least he’s a somewhat likable Everyman figure. Not so here. Here, he locks Whitey in a porta-potty and pushes it down a hill. Whitey emerges, covered in excrement, which Davey sprays with water, turning Whitey into a poop-sicle. Then a herd of deer come and lick Whitey clean. Then the deer’s poop-covered teeth are shown in close-up. You are more than welcome to find this funny if you so choose; I did not.
In terms of creative quality, it is low. The story is certainly nothing new, and the songs — yes, it’s a musical — are simplistic and derivative. The animation is Saturday-morning-caliber. The narration is redundant. The voice work is adequate, provided mostly by Sandler and his friends. It is one of the worst films Sandler has ever appeared in. I doubt whether even “Waterboy” and “Mr. Deeds” fans will find much to laugh at.
D- (1 hr., 11 min.; )
In 2012, I reconsidered this movie for my Re-Views column at Film.com.