This is a cynical, depraved film that, even worse, has no reason to be so cynical and depraved. It's expected of Sandler to include scatological humor and slight-offensiveness in his films, sure, but it's unexpected of him to include such derogatory representations of his own culture and unnecessary rudeness in the time of the holidays. I can only imagine the stunned reactions of parents that were lured into this with the appeal of Christmas images and holiday sweetness on TV only to be met with one smarmy, laugh-free punch after another. It's so rare we get a film that deals with a holiday aside from Christmas during the December month; did the one Hanukkah film we get have to be directed by Adam Sandler? He voices several characters in the film, one of them Davey, who he also resembles, a Jewish man in his mid-thirties, deeply loathing of the holidays and all the cheer they bring to people. After being convicted of public drunkenness in yet another offense, just when he's about to go away to prison, Whitey Duvall (voiced by Sandler, as well), the local youth basketball coach, offers him a job as a referee down at the gym to which he accepts. Whitey is a short, kind old man, who lives with his wife Eleanor (also voiced by Sandler), and whole-heartedly believes that Davey could do right if he put his mind to it. The problem is Davey doesn't have any ambition to do right and consistently puts everyone around him down because he himself can't be happy with the cards he has been dealt.
There's only so many times I can watch a man belittle and harass a sweet older man until it becomes nearly unwatchable. The constant abuse Davey brings to Whitey's life is mean-spirited just for the sake of being mean-spirited and rarely results in a laugh or a smile. Davey's attitude, alone, never sparks any particular laugh either. There's a big difference between someone who adopts a sour attitude because of past life experiences that have scarred him and a person who adopts one purely out of choice. Davey has one event in his life that happened at a young age that was supposed to spawn this cynicism and disgust for human happiness and holiday cheer. That was years ago and you think the anger and hostile would've worn off with the passage of almost two decades. Not a chance. He remains as mean and as nasty as if the event occurred yesterday.
The film is also a musical, which isn't as awful as that sounds. Some songs, particularly "Davey's Song," are kind of infectious in their contempt for the holidays. "Technical Foul," the song Whitey sings when he's introducing Davey to all the rules of his own, is a cute little anthem as well. However, none of which allow Eight Crazy Nights to surpass its codger attitude to everything it sets up. But it feels even more insincere when the film abandons its mean-spiritedness for the fluffy, Hallmark-card cuteness that it feels obligated to tack on in the last act of the film to show Davey really has come a long way as a human. I would've had more respect for the film had it stayed true to its inherently grumpy roots.
Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights is an unhealthy film for the holidays. A cheap, trite ordeal, at only seventy-six minutes, it's an obnoxious pictures that gives a new meaning to the word "humbug." It's a blatant ripoff of A Christmas Carol, and tries to justify its mean-spirited qualities as the formula for a "reformation," change-of-mind story that we've seen time and time again in better, more tolerable films.
Voiced by: Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Austin Stout, and Rob Schneider. Directed by: Seth Kearsley.