Little Nicky (2000)

(On TV, September 2015)  I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan, but have seen enough of his films by now to say that most of them are likable in a fairly generic way –crude, oftentimes gross, certainly lower-common-denominator, but still aiming for kind of a genial comforting middle-America male consciousness.  Little Nicky is irritating in ways that I can’t completely articulate, though: From the early curious fascination with Hitler’s rectum, the simpering protagonist, the badly-executed CGI gags or the haphazard structure, this is a film that feels more botched than most, without much in terms of overall direction or aesthetics.  It’s a dumb comedy, granted, but it seems more aggressively dumb than most others in the Sandler filmography.  Sandler himself is annoying to watch, leaving little of his natural charm to carry viewers over to the end.  Terrible special effects don’t help, and neither are the various pot-shots at easy targets or the uninspired lack of thematic depth in what could have been an effortless opportunity to add more substance to the script.  In the grand scheme of Sandler’s career, Little Nicky is definitely a film at the end of his first, more immature phase –it’s easy to see 2002’s subsequent Mr. Deeds as a course-correction for the excesses of this one (not to say anything about Punch-Drunk Love, also immediately subsequent.)  This is strictly for Sandler completists.

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