Dir: Steven Brill. US. 2000. 90 mins.
Prod cos: New Line Cinema in association with RSC Media. Dist (US): New Line. Intl sales: New Line International. Prods: Jack Giarraputo, Robert Simonds. Exec prod: Robert Engelman. Scr: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler, Steve Brill. DoP: Theo Van de Sande. Prod des: Perry Andelin Blake. Ed: Jeff Gourson. Music: Teddy Castellucci. Main cast: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, Allen Covert, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr.
Adam Sandler's impressive run of US box office success - with The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy and Big Daddy - looks set to continue with Little Nicky, a raucous, fast-moving and joke-crammed comedy that hits at least as often as it misses. The former Saturday Night Live star might also have a chance of reaching new demographics and improving his international record (his last three films have done half as much internationally as in the US): besides the usual un-PC comedy, Little Nicky has a fairly strong supporting cast and a more likeable tone than Sandler's previous money-makers. On its opening weekend in the US, Little Nicky grossed $18.1m in three days.
Sandler's Nicky is the gawky, sweet-natured son of the reigning Devil (Keitel), perpetually picked on by his more conventionally evil brothers Adrian (Ifans) and Cassius (Lister). When Adrian and Cassius decide to wreak havoc in the mortal world rather than waiting around in Hell for the chance to take over from 'Dad', Nicky is dispatched to bring them back.
In its opening sequence in the nether world (which feels like a family sitcom with art direction by Hieronymous Bosch) the film starts as it means to go on, rushing from one - sometimes schoolboyish, sometimes hilariously weird - gag to the next. When the story moves to the streets of New York, Sandler gets a love interest (Arquette) and the opportunity to add special effects to his comic arsenal. The star's shtick occasionally wears thin, but there is plenty of other comic talent in the big cast to take up the slack. Keitel is particularly enjoyable and cute cameos come from Reese Witherspoon, Rodney Dangerfield and Ozzy Osbourne, among others.