BY THOMAS WOOD
Adam Sandler has had an exciting movie-making career to be sure. He’s made famously funny movies such as Big Daddy and Click and famously bad movies like That’s My Boy. Somewhere near the bottom of this wide spectrum of quality lies the 2000 film Little Nicky. It was a complete box office bomb, receiving bad reviews from critics and losing money. However, now that we’re 22 years removed from this nightmare of a movie, perhaps our opinions have changed. Does Little Nicky hold up better now than it did on release?
The movie stars the titular Nicky, a demon played by Sandler living as Satan’s son alongside his two brothers, Cassius and Adrian. When Satan suggests he might cede the throne of Hell to one of his sons, chaos ensues between Cassius and Adrian to see who might be fit to rule. However, this very scuffle causes Satan to decide to keep his throne for himself—his sons are simply not ready yet. This decision angers the two, causing them to travel to New York City and create their own Hell to rule over. On their way out, they freeze the entrance to Hell, which cuts off Satan’s soul supply and causes him to gradually disintegrate. As a last resort, he sends Nicky to the surface to try and trap his two brothers and restore order to New York City.
The plot of this movie is confusing at best. It’s unclear what powers Nicky and his brothers possess, so their fights often feel contrived. If Nicky dies at any point in the story (which he does plenty), he’s simply sent back to Hell. This is a funny bit at the start of the movie, but it removes a lot of the stakes involved with Nicky and his mortality. At the end of the movie, it’s revealed that Nicky is merely half-brothers with Cassius and Adrian and that his mother is an angel residing in Heaven. Although this gives a reason for Nicky’s overall kindness, it still feels like it came out of nowhere. Even if the movie is a comedy it should still have a reasonable plot to be followed. This movie does not offer such luxuries.
For the entire film (without exception), Adam Sandler puts on this strange voice as a result of his character being slammed in the face by a shovel. This voice is genuinely awful. I ended the movie feeling like I needed to take a shower and watch political speeches to garner any sort of spoken diction. It felt like a genuine gust of pure breeze when a different character talked and I could actually understand them. I was euphoric beyond words when Nicky died the first time until I realized he was coming back. I could probably stand the voice if it were on any character but the main face of the movie, but it isn’t, and that saddens me. I would argue that the voice alone contributed to at least $20 million of the movie’s financial losses, if not more.
As a comedy, the movie isn’t awesome either. I’d be able to excuse the fact that the plot is subpar if the comedy were at least good enough to compensate, but it isn’t. There were very few jokes that got a tiny chuckle out of me, and I don’t remember genuinely laughing at any of the jokes in the film. The closest I ever got to laughing stemmed from the hysteria of the movie finally ending.
All in all, Little Nicky is and was an awful movie that deserves all its negative reviews. The only joy I felt from watching the film was when it finally ended and I could listen to something other than Adam Sandler’s pathetic attempt at comedy. The plot is hard to follow, the jokes are painful to listen to, and the overall vibe is soiled in grime. I’m glad I never have to watch this movie ever again.