The Academy Awards recently created an animation category to acknowledge and reward the recent boom in animated films. Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights suggests that the Golden Raspberry Awards might want to add a similar category, assuming this slapped-together seasonal cash-in even qualifies as animation. Infantile and abrasive even by the standards of a Sandler vehicle, Eight Crazy Nights splits the contrasting facets of his persona into two separate, complementary characters. The belligerent, borderline-abusive overgrown adolescent of Big Daddy, Billy Madison, and Happy Gilmore is reborn as a sloppily animated nobody who loses his faith and turns to alcohol after his parents die in a car accident. The crazy-voiced, endlessly put-upon abuse magnet of Little Nicky, meanwhile, finds new life as an ancient, cheerful, pint-sized loser who, like his similarly obnoxious sister, looks like a cross between Mr. Magoo and an overgrown phallus with arms and legs. Like a Jewish Scrooge, the younger Sandler incarnation rails against Hanukkah and heaps punishment on his older counterpart, only to learn the true meaning of the season after he drunkenly breaks into a mall and has a heart-to-heart with some of America's most beloved corporate spokes-entities. For his animated debut, Sandler could have made a G-rated Hanukkah movie for children, or a naughty R-rated spoof of seasonal tropes for his adult and adolescent fans. Instead, he inexplicably made a PG-13 movie where gross-out gags and literal piles of shit clash with cheap pathos and unearned sentimentality. Adolescent nastiness and saccharine schmaltz co-exist unhappily in perhaps the film's most telling bit, in which one character has feces licked off his freezing body by a cadre of adorable deer. Eight Crazy Nights' animation seldom rises above the level of a middling Saturday-morning cartoon; many of the film's backgrounds are blurry and visibly out of focus. The overall look is closer to celebrity-driven early-'90s TV schlock like Wish Kid and Hammerman than the work of Disney or Pixar, while Sandler's voice acting explores countless new shades of insufferable. The worst Hanukkah movie ever made, Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights does for the holiday what Santa Claus: The Movie did for Christmas.
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