Eight Crazy Nights is a 2002 American adult animated musical Christmas black comedy drama film directed by Seth Kearsley and produced, co-written by and starring Adam Sandler, in his first voice-acting role.
It was Happy Madison's only animated film they had ever made. Eight Crazy Nights was also actually one of Adam Sandler's first box office bombs, as it only grossed $23.8 million out of its $34 million budget. This film is usually seen as one of Adam Sandler's worst films.
In the small town of Dukesberry, New Hampshire, Davey Stone is a 33-year-old alcoholic troublemaker with a long criminal record, whose antics have long earned him the animosity of the town. Davey is arrested for refusing to pay his bill at Mr. Chang's Chinese restaurant and, while attempting to evade arrest ("Davey's Song"), destroying a giant Menorah/Santa ice sculpture in the process. At Davey's trial, Whitey Duvall, a 70-year-old volunteer referee from Davey's former basketball league, who is himself a laughingstock of the community because of his slight senility and often disturbing, childlike tendencies, intervenes and comes forward at his trial. The judge, at Whitey's suggestion, sentences Davey to community service as a referee-in-training for Whitey's Youth Basketball League. Under the terms of the community service, if Davey commits a crime before his sentence is completed, he will be sentenced to ten years in prison.
The next day, Davey referees his first game, which ends in disaster. After Davey causes disruptions, Whitey suffers a grand mal seizure, and the game is abruptly brought to an end. Attempting to calm Davey down, Whitey takes him to the mall, where they meet Jennifer Friedman, Davey's childhood girlfriend, and her 11-year-old son, Benjamin. Though Whitey reminds him that he lost his chance with her twenty years earlier, Davey still finds himself attracted to Jennifer.
As time progresses, Davey and Whitey's relationship becomes more strained, as Whitey's various attempts to encourage Davey are met with humiliation and assault - including but not limited to Davey knocking Whitey into an outhouse and then spraying him when he falls out with a hose, causing Whitey to be frozen in defecation. Upon arriving home ("Long Ago"), Davey finds his trailer being burned down by a man who lost a bet to him. Davey runs into the burning trailer to rescue a Hanukkah card from his late parents, then watches the trailer burn down. Whitey opens his home to Davey, who reluctantly accepts the invitation; also living in the house is Whitey's bald, diabetic fraternal twin sister Eleanor. The Duvall household has many complex rules (referred to by Whitey as technical fouls) ("Technical Foul"). Despite this, Davey seemingly overcomes them, and begins to turn his life around.
However, Davey's progress in reforming is stopped when Whitey recalls the events of Hanukkah in 1981: En route to one of Davey's basketball games, his parents were killed in a car accident when their car skidded on black ice, and Davey learned of their deaths when the police showed up at the end of his game to inform him. Devastated by the loss of his loving parents, Davey withdrew from society and developed alcoholism, embarking on a life of juvenile delinquency and adult criminal behavior. Davey, uncomfortable with Whitey recalling the events of that day, loses his temper and insults Whitey and Eleanor. As a result, Whitey revokes Davey's privilege to reside at his home, much to Davey's relief.
Davey spends the rest of the day drinking, and later that night breaks into the mall, which is closed. In a drunken stupor, he imagines the logos of various stores coming to life and confronting him about his inability to grieve for his parents, which they identify as the source of his alcoholism ("Intervention Song"). He finally opens his parents' Hanukkah card, which contains a message praising him for being a good son. Davey breaks down and cries, finally coming to terms with his loss. Just then, the police arrive to arrest him, but Davey escapes and boards a bus to New York, just as the police are searching for him across. En route to the city, the bus is forced to stop when all eight tires are punctured by a single thumbtack in the road. Reminded of the Miracle of Hanukkah, Davey walks off the bus, intending to find Whitey and make amends with him.
Davey finds Whitey at the All-Star Banquet, an annual town celebration in which one member of the community is recognized for positive contributions to Dukesberry. Despite having vied for the award for over thirty-five years, Whitey is once again passed over; he leaves in disgrace, intending to move to Florida, where he can live out the rest of his life in anonymity. Risking arrest, Davey enters the hall and informs everyone of the selfless contributions that Whitey has made to Dukesberry over the course of his life. Disgraced, the townspeople acknowledge the error of their decision ("Bum Biddy"). Davey leads the people to Whitey, who has gone to the mall to "speak to it" alone. The townspeople thank Whitey for his service over the years and the Mayor officially grants him the Patch Award. All 32 (one had won three) previous recipients of the awards give theirs to Whitey. Davey and Jennifer reconcile, and Whitey has a seizure, which he calls "the happiest seizure of my life!".
The film currently holds a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic consensus that reads "Sandler returns to his roots in this nauseating concoction filled with potty humor and product placements. Film critic Richard Roeper gave the film a "Thumbs Up!" while Roger Ebert and a majority of other film critics awarded the film negative reviews. The film had a budget of $34 million and grossed $23.8 million at the box office.
Why It Sucks
- Poor voice acting, mainly from Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider.
- Unlikable protagonist. To add insult to injury, he has a tragic backstory that sounds too dark and emotional to be in a comedy film. On top of that, the film does nothing to make the protagonist sympathetic.
- While the animation is good (It helps that several of the film's animators also worked on the cult classic The Iron Giant), it just doesn't fit the film's tone at all. To simplify, the animation is misfitting.
- Excessive use of juvenile humor (e.g. reindeer pooping and having poop on their teeth).
- Lame musical numbers.
- Excessive use of product placements.
- A lot of mean-spirited humor, including making fun of minorities, like the elderly and fat people.
- While Davey does become a better person at the end, he never apologizes for what he previously did to the town, making his character development feel shallow.
- Wasted potential. The idea of a criminal who was secretly once a good kid until his life spiralled out of control due to a personal tragedy is interesting, but sadly, it's badly handled.
- The voice of Whitey is "nails on a chalkboard" annoying here.
- The Intervention Song was pretty funny.
- It was Adam Sandler's first attempt at making a cartoon film, despite the film being a failure.
- As mentioned earlier, the animation was good.
- The Chanukah Song that was used at the end was good.