It’s rare to get a focus on other faiths during the Xmas period, with the focus being on the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December. Pop culture will occasionally recognise the festival of Hanukkah but never give it its own light (no pun intended). In 2002, Sandler, and the team at Happy Madison set out to make a traditionally animated holiday film, that’s crude, wisecracking, and mostly about Hanukkah in the aptly named, Eight Crazy Nights.
Stone, a 33-year-old Jewish delinquent, is given an umpteenth chance, to work on a youth basketball team or risk a 10-year jail sentence. Under the guidance of kind old ref Whitey, Stone must help with the refereeing duties. Stone is initially resistant to changing his act, but when introduced to the son of his childhood sweetheart, he starts a journey with these new figures in his life to change. But the question is, can he?
Despite its animated look, this isn’t really a kid’s film, it has a majority of the calling cards of a Happy Madison live-action, with a copious amount of branding (even worked into a rhyming section). The branded mascots even have their own personalities and musical number at the end, reminiscent surprisingly of Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. Sandler takes the brunt of the voice work here voicing both Stone and Whitey. Stone’s demeanour and cynicism a perfect contrast for Whitiey’s wholesome optimism, impressive considering that both of them are Sandler. The film, however, isn’t just Adam Sandler alone, his pal, Rob Schneider voices the Narrator, who throws in more quips than you would expect, and love interest Jennifer, is great too, played by soon to be Sandler’s wife Jacqueline Titone.
The animation style is interesting walking a fine line between recognisable and unique. But the juxtaposition between risqué humour of Sandler and the holiday focused animation is the main draw here. This can be seen in the romantic plot between Stone and Jennifer. This is also fuel for the send-up, as Eight Crazy Nights injects its brand of raunchy humour into sentimental moments that classic films would play for sincerity. Even serious moments like the romantic ballad at the middle of the film is intercut with bawdy non-sequitur gags, probably for the benefit of the fans who do not like music in their musicals and just come for Sandler. It zigs entirely when you expect it to zag, yet it feels like they put a lot of effort into these elements, that it could have worked as an entirely straight film.
I admire Eight Crazy Nights for what it tries to do. It feels like more than an S.N.L. take on holiday movies, as there are some strong moments behind the gags too. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for musicals, maybe it’s because I like the animation and some of the sight gags, maybe it’s the Xmas spirit, but I had a good time with this film. If you’re a fan of Sandler et al.’s humour, and holiday films, you might get more bang for your buck here too.
If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!