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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Seth Kearsley
Cast:
Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Austin Stout, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider, Norm Crosby, Jon Lovitz, Tyra Banks
Writing Credits:
Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, Brad Isaacs, Adam Sandler

Tagline:
It's naughty. It's nice. It's animated.

Synopsis:
Once a happy boy, but now the town delinquent, Davey (voiced by Adam Sandler) is given one last chance to redeem himself with his community and discover the true meaning of the holiday season.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$9.434 million on 2503 screens.
Domestic Gross
$23.443 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $26.95
Release Date: 11/4/2003

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Whitey, Eleanore and Allen Covert
• Audio Commentary with
• “A Day With the   Meatball”
• Trailers
• Music Video
• NBA TV Spot
Disc Two
• Nine Featurettes
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes With Optional Commentary
• “HBO First Look” Special
• Animation Progression


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Eight Crazy Nights: Special Edition (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2003)

Christmas always overshadows Chanukah, so it’s about time the latter holiday got some attention. No less a force than Adam Sandler decided we needed to get a high profile film that examined the Jewish occasion, so in 2002, he worked on an animated flick entitled Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights.

The title comes from a line in a popular Chanukah song composed and performed by Sandler. That tune is a fun and clever little affair. Don’t expect anything in that vein from Nights, however, as it presents a decidedly unpleasant and distasteful flick.

Set in a small New England town called Dukesberry, Nights focuses on 33-year-old Davey Stone (voiced by Sandler). The town ne’er-do-well, he used to be happy and well adjusted as a kid, but now he’s a bitter and hateful misanthrope who loathes the holidays. A law-breaking lout, Davey gets arrested and is about to go down for some big jail time when his former youth league basketball referee Whitey Duvall (Sandler) steps in on his behalf. Whitey gets the judge to sentence Davey to work as a youth referee as rehabilitation. However, Davey continues to act like a jerk, even when he meets his childhood flame Jennifer (Jackie Titone) and her son Benjamin (Austin Stout).

Eventually Davey does start to loosen up, especially when he and Ben bond during a two-on-two basketball game. This earns him no slack from Jennifer, however, who remains wary of Davey. When the loser of that basketball game torches Davey’s trailer, he moves in with Whitey and his fraternal twin sister Eleanore (Sandler again). Under their care, he starts to become a much nicer guy, but he totally reverts when Whitey tells Eleanore what made Davey so bitter.

Will Davey eventually regain his childhood joy and stop being such a prick? I won’t spoil the ending, but since this is a holiday flick, it doesn’t take much to figure out where the ending will go.

As with most tales in this genre, we derive our pleasure from the journey, not the conclusion. Unfortunately, the path Nights takes is an extremely unpleasant one. It involves all of Sandler’s baser instincts and almost none of his clever or humorous ones. Nights revels in potty humor and gets really gross at times. Many gags related to belching and farting occur, and we also find pokes at Whitey’s seizure disorder. That joke’s tasteless to start, and it doesn’t get any funnier with repeated attempts. At one point the movie literally coats Whitey in feces, which doesn’t exactly provoke guffaws either.

Essentially a musical, Nights attempts to elicit humor with Sandler’s trademark wacky songs. It’s too bad these are just as crude as everything else in the movie. They offer some moderately clever wordplay at times but dwell too much on gross elements and mostly just fall flat.

The animation seems acceptable but still fairly mediocre. The techniques involve a few too many CG elements, especially related to vehicles. These don’t integrate well with the action and look off much of the time. The movie does present some well-executed backgrounds, but the depiction of the characters seems average at best. I didn’t find serious problems with the animation, but the art was lackluster and didn’t add much to the film.

Since it’s a holiday movie, Nights inevitably turns sappy and sentimental. If it’d resisted those urges and stayed with the generally crude tone from start to finish, it wouldn’t seem any funnier, but at least I’d more respect its internal consistency. Unfortunately, the predictable conclusion just seems stale and lacks nerve.

Actually, the whole holiday setting mostly seems irrelevant in this case. The film has little to do with Chanukah; it could take place any time of year and work just the same way. The integration of some holiday elements feels gratuitous and pointless.

Not that those factors harm Eight Crazy Nights, as the movie’s crude and tasteless tone does it in on its own. It never rises above a level of nastiness to become anything even moderately amusing or entertaining. It’s an unpleasant and unfunny experience.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. The movie consistently looked good during this accurate and well-rendered presentation.

Sharpness looked positive. The movie appeared nicely distinct and accurate. I noticed no problems related to softness or fuzziness in this well-defined presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws seemed non-existent.

Nights enjoyed a natural palette that looked clean and distinctive. The holiday setting allowed for quite a few vivid and lively tones, and the DVD replicated these accurately. The colors consistently seemed tight and vibrant. Black levels came across as deep and dense, while low-light shots were smooth and well defined. Overall, Eight Crazy Nights gave us an excellent transfer.

While it didn’t offer much scope, Eight Crazy Nights presented a reasonably solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield maintained a pretty heavy emphasis on the front channels. Music demonstrated nice stereo presence and also featured some decent movement and delineation of effects. A little localized speech popped up as well. Surround usage mostly aimed at reinforcement, though a few sequences presented greater life. For example, the scene in which Davey’s trailer burned used the rear speakers to good effect and created a nice sense of environment.

Audio quality was solid. Speech always sounded natural and distinctive, and I noticed no signs of edginess or issues related to intelligibility. Music seemed bright and reasonably dynamic, with clear highs and acceptably vivid lows. Effects appeared clean and accurate and also demonstrated pretty good range. Not many of those elements taxed the speakers, but the occasional louder scenes seemed concise and firm. Nothing much about the track stood out, but it worked fine for a movie of such modest dimensions.

Despite the film’s less-than-stellar performance at the box office, Eight Crazy Nights receives a pretty extensive special edition treatment. On DVD One, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from Whitey, Eleanore and co-writer/co-producer/actor Allen Covert. An unusual interaction of fictional characters and a real participant, this track matches Covert with Sandler as both Whitey and Eleanore. Unsurprisingly, the commentary doesn’t present much information about the movie itself. They tell us the names of some voice actors, but otherwise this is just a fun little in-character chat. The content seems thin, and the laughs don’t exactly fly, but in general, it’s an amusing piece that actually proves more entertaining than the movie itself.

Next we get a “technical commentary” with director Seth Kearsley, head of animation Stephan Franck, art director Philip A. Cruden, effects supervisor John Bermudez, and executive producer Ken Tsumura. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific track. Some decent information emerges, but don’t expect a great examination of the making of the movie. The participants get into some nitty gritty related to the flick, and they explain various pressures connected to it as well as working with “the Sandler camp”. However, a lot of self-congratulatory material appears, as much of the track just delves into praise for all involved. The tone remains light and lively and seems moderately entertaining, but we don’t learn much about the movie.

We see 120 seconds of footage connected to Sandler’s beloved dog in A Day With the Meatball. It shows his adventures as he goes to school, to the gym, and other places in a “typical day”. It’s as dopey as it sounds.

Next we get a music video for “Chanukah Song Part 3”. This shows Sandler as he plays on a fairly recent episode of Saturday Night Live. A 35-second “NBA: Love It Live” TV Spot shows up after this. It includes a special song Sandler created to promote pro basketball. Disc One ends with a collection of trailers. We get ads for Eight Crazy Nights, Anger Management, Big Daddy, Medallion, Mr. Deeds, CTS “Original Programming TV” DVDs, Peter Pan, Radio, and the Spider-Man animated series.

As we move to DVD Two, we find all the disc’s extras located in different sections of the town of Dukesberry. Since that’s where the cursor lands, we’ll start with “Whitey and Eleanore’s House”, where we open with a short featurette simply called ”Eleanore”. This four-minute and six-second piece mixes clips from the movie, some production materials, and soundbites from Sandler, character animator Franck, director Kearsley, screenwriter, co-producer and music supervisor Brooks Arthur, and producer and screenwriter Covert. They convey some character decisions made about Eleanore as well as choices for the physical design. It’s somewhat superficial, but it brings us a few choice notes about how they designed Eleanore.

You get to exercise your ill-used angle button in the Animation Progression. This lets us check out four different scenes in different stages: storyboards, rough animation, and final animation. We can watch “Davey and Whitey at the Food Court” (70 seconds per angle), “Pick-Up Game Conclusion” (2:18), “’Technical Foul’ Finale” (65 seconds), and “’Bum Biddy’ Beginning” (115 seconds). It’s a nice little examination of the various elements.

Our visit to Whitey and Eleanore’s abode ends with three Deleted/Alternate Scenes. We get “Original Opening” (two minutes, 10 seconds), “Extended Introduction to Eleanore” (2:27), and “Extended ‘Patch Song’” (2:06). These all feature either filmed storyboards, rough sketches, or pencil animation. The alternate opening is the most interesting, as it focuses on Whitey and starts the flick in a more subdued way. These can be viewed with or without commentary from Covert. He provides some good production notes about the clips and tells us clearly why they changed or cut the pieces, so his remarks merit a listen.

Next we head to “Davey’s Trailer”, where we launch with ”Davey”, a three-minute and 43-second featurette. Very similar to “Eleanore”, this one presents comments from Sandler, Kearsley, Franck, Arthur, executive producer Ken Tsumura, and Covert. Ditto my comments about “Eleanore” for this one, as it offers a quick but fairly tight look at the creation of the character.

A similar piece appears next via ”The Deer”. This 123-second piece includes statements from Covert, Kearsley, and Sandler. It lacks the level of information heard in the prior two featurettes, but whaddya want? They’re deer, for God’s sake! It nonetheless tosses out a fun tidbit or two.

”Davey’s Trailer” winds up with two more Deleted/Alternate Scenes. We get “Davey Bumper Hopping” (39 seconds) and “Davey and the Homeless Guy” (55 seconds). The first mixes rough and finished animation, while the second presents filmed sketches. Neither seems very compelling. We get more commentary from Covert as well. He concisely discusses the clips and gives us some nice notes.

Our next location is “The Mall”, where we start with a featurette about ”Jennifer and Benjamin”. You guessed it – this uses the same format as the previous character-based programs. During this two-minute and 49-second short, we get remarks from Arthur, Franck, Kearsley, and Sandler. It’s another fun and efficient show, and it even includes some funny cracks from Sandler about the allegedly poor work performed by voice actor Titone, his real-life significant other.

More behind the scenes issues receive exploration in ”Voices of Dukesberry”. This five-minute and 23-second program presents comments from Covert, Kearsley, Sandler, actor Kevin Nealon, and Arthur. This doesn’t discuss character development really; instead, it concentrates on the voice recording process. We get lots of fun clips from the studio and learn about the loose and erratic nature of the sessions. It benefits from all the glimpses of the actors and provides an entertaining and informative piece.

No one should feel surprised to learn that we now find four additional Deleted/Alternate Scenes. We get “’At the Mall’” (two minutes. 57 seconds), “Exploding Monkey” (43 seconds), “Cops Arrive” (31 seconds), and “Cops and the Bear” (30 seconds). These all feature filmed sketches, and none of them seem terribly worthwhile, though the exploding monkey gag’s not too bad. Covert adds more commentary that provides some nice insights.

After this we head to the “Banquet Hall”, where we find a program about the ”Townspeople of Dukesberry”. As I’m sure you guessed, this works the same as the prior character-based programs. In the four-minute and 54-second featurette, we hear notes from Covert, Kearsley, Franck, Nealon, Arthur, and Sandler. It’s not quite as entertaining as the “Voices” featurette, but it includes a decent look at the design of various extras.

Next we locate ”Dukesberry Sings”, a six-minute and 28-second look at the flick’s music. We get notes from Covert, Sandler, Kearsley, music composers Teddy Castellucci and Marc Ellis, and Arthur. They chat about keeping away from cartoon clichés and discuss various elements of the songs. It’s a pretty good synopsis of the subject.

An HBO First Look special arrives next. The 12-minute and 39-second program uses the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Sandler, Kearsley, Covert, Tsumura, production designer Perry Andelin Blake, Arthur, and Franck. If you’ve seen other “HBO First Look” shows, you’ll know what to expect from this one: lots of film snippets, lots of plot and character synopsis, lots of promotional emphasis, lots of praise, little behind the scenes information. A couple of quick notes related to the production appear, all of which essentially show up elsewhere. That makes “First Look” totally skippable.

”The Banquet Hall” finishes with two more Deleted/Alternate Scenes. We find “Bamquet Belch” (27 seconds) and “Tom Baltezor Gets Emotional” (21 seconds). Both seem inconsequential. Covert’s optional commentary quickly tosses out some good notes.

Finally, we arrive at the “Community Center”. Here we start with ”Whitey”, a three-minute and 48-second glimpse of the character. We hear comments from Sandler, Kearsley, Covert, Franck, and Arthur. It fits well with the other programs, as it covers its topic concisely. The best parts come from some demo footage of Sandler shot to illustrate how to make Whitey move.

Our final featurette, ”Creating Dukesberry” fills four minutes and 31 seconds as it looks at the town itself. We get remarks from Sandler, Covert, Franck, Kearsley, Tsumura and Arthur. They relate the various inspirations for the look of the town and all its elements. The show finishes the series of featurettes well, with a nicely informative and tight piece.

DVD Two concludes with two more Deleted/Alternate Scenes. “Community Center” presents “Extended First Basketball Game” (two minutes, 17 seconds) and “Reform School Game” (six minutes, 18 seconds). The second is fairly interesting due to its length and the fact that no part of it shows up in the final flick; the two-on-two basketball game replaces it there. Covert contributes some more commentary in his usual entertaining and informative manner.

Anyone who hopes for a fun Chanukah film won’t find what they want from Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights. A generally gross, unfunny and charmless flick, the movie suffers from all of Sandler’s negatives and almost none of his positives. At least the DVD’s a solid piece of work. It presents excellent picture, generally positive audio, and a nice roster of supplements. If you liked Nights, you’ll dig this very well made DVD. Otherwise, I can’t recommend this terrible movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5675 Stars Number of Votes: 37
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