BY THOMAS WOOD
In the holiday season of 2002, Adam Sandler advanced his career and broadened his horizons. He finally made his very first movie for the holidays. It’s a unique holiday movie as well, primarily focused on Hanukkah instead of Christmas. This movie also made history as the first fully animated Adam Sandler movie. Will this movie be filed in the annals of film history? Or will it be swept under the box-office-failure rug to be forgotten? These are the very questions I set out to answer.
Our movie stars Davey Stone, an alcoholic with a heart of stone. He’s arrested for evading a bill at a Chinese restaurant and, thanks to the kind will of an old man named Whitey, he’s only sentenced to community service as the coach of a youth basketball league. Davey now has to prove he can be a good coach for the kids while avoiding committing another crime and being sent to jail.
The plot in this movie is pretty solid. It gives a pretty believable reason for certain characters to interact the way they do, and none of it feels forced. The relationship the movie develops between Whitey and Davey can be sweet at times, but it understandably takes time for Davey to open up to him. There are some scenes during Davey’s basketball coaching that are funny, but there are also a lot of outdated jokes that don’t really fly in today’s comedy climate. There’s also a romance plot with Davey and his childhood crush, but it feels sort of lackluster compared to all of the other character interactions in the movie. It is sweet however to see Davey bonding with said crush’s kid over a game of basketball.
The songs in this movie are genuinely pretty solid. I’m a big fan of comedic amateur singing in media, but a lot of the amateur songs end up sounding pretty nice. If they don’t sound good, they at least advance the plot, so you don’t feel like the songs waste your time. My favorite scene of the movie is a song scene, one being featured during “Bum Biddy.” The gorgeously animated choreography between the Chinese food shop owner and the police officer genuinely had me and my friends crying and laughing. It’s awful, but it’s a good kind of awful. About what you’d expect from an Adam Sandler animated film.
The animation is frankly pretty fluid. I’m no connoisseur of animation, mind you, but I thought all the character movements looked nice and smooth. The way the characters’ mouths move reflects their manner of speech nicely. Lots of characters make really fluid motions with their hands when they talk, too. All in all, the animation put into this movie is far above the bar I think it deserved.
All in all, Eight Crazy Nights is just alright. A good amount of the jokes were pretty funny, but for every good joke was one that was outdated and sometimes just blatantly discriminatory. The animation and music are pretty solid, though. It’s a fine movie if you’re tired of the traditional holiday celebration film, but it’s by no means a mainstay for the family’s yearly watch party.