Awfully Good: Little Nicky

Spend some time with the original hellboy…

Little Nicky (2000)

Director: Steven Brill
Stars: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel

Little Nicky Awfully Good

The Devil’s two most evil sons incapacitate their dad and escape from Hell, leaving only Satan’s youngest, dumbest child with a speech impediment to head to New York City and save the world.

Or, TOMMY BOY in Hell.

Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when Adam Sandler’s name was synonymous with quality in comedy. His run of movies in the late 90s—BILLY MADISON, HAPPY GILMORE, THE WEDDING SINGER, THE WATERBOY and BIG DADDY—rightfully made him a superstar and one of the highest paid funny people in Hollywood. However, LITTLE NICKY effectively broke that winning streak, giving Sandler fans a peek at an eventual, much more depressing future.

Little Nicky Reese Witherspoon
“Dear God, please let this movie be good…”

Probably the biggest thing working against the movie is Sandler himself. The title character’s raspy voice and stroke-victim face is an acting choice that might work in a brief sketch, but is straight up painful to watch for 90 minutes. I remember seeing this for the first time and thinking, “He’s not going to talk like that the entire movie, is he?” SPOILER: Yes, he is and at no point will it ever grow on you. I assume Sandler’s contract gave him full creative control, because I find it hard to believe that no one at the studio watched the dailies and didn’t ask him revaluate the entirety of his decision-making process.

Little Nicky Reese Witherspoon
[movie is released]

It’s even worse when the film tries to play up the sincerity, esepcially by forcing in a completely unnecessary, equally boring love interest played by Patricia Arquette. The sappiness with their romance is so unbelievably cringeworthy it borders on parody. The poor actors are saddled with saying serious lines like “Do it for the butterflies!” Then, when Nicky finally comes clean about who he is, he takes Arquette on a magical flight through New York City ala ALADDIN. Except instead of “A Whole New World” the song is “Perfect One” by 90s alt-rock band Lit. And thanks to his finding love, when the final showdown happens, Nicky actually shoots sparkly rainbows out of his hands to save the day.

I swear, this movie would’ve swept the Razzies had BATTLEFIELD EARTH not come out the same year

Little Nicky head fire
How you know your new lice shampoo is working.

All that being said, perhaps it’s the maturity that comes with age, or maybe just the hindsight of knowing how LITTLE NICKY compares to some of Sandler’s later, even worse output, but I’ve actually softened on this movie over the years. The main character is still terrible and the much of the film still sucks, but some of the jokes do land thanks to the sheer number of talented people Sandler stacks the deck with. You’ve got Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Reese Witherspoon, Dana Carvey, Michael McKean, Regis Philbin, Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osbourne, Dan Marino, and Carl Weathers playing Chubbs from HAPPY GILMORE, just to name a few. And whoever decided to cast Rodney Dangerfield as Lucifer deserves a non-Razzie award.

Little Nicky adam sandler spider
Luckily, Happy Madison’s SPIDER-MAN never got the greenlight.

But mostly I can now sort of look past everything wrong with LITTLE NICKY and at least appreciate the sheer weirdness of it all:

  • A young child murdering Jon Lovitz, only for him to end up in hell where he gets humped by a giant horny bird for eternity
  • Adolf Hitler in a French maid costume getting large pineapples shoved up his ass
  • A talking dog named Beefy (voiced by Robert Smigel) who farts smoke grenades, shoots harpoons out of his genitals, and gets wasted at a strip club
  • Adam Sandler dunking a basketball so hard it makes another player’s afro grow out
  • Kevin Nealon as a demon with boobs growing out of his head who has a kinky interspecies romance with a furry hellspawn
  • Clint Howard as a crossdresser who’s sole joke throughout the film is that he likes to rub his nipples
  • Adam Sandler turning in to an army of Adam Sandler-headed spiders
  • Product placement so blatant that the movie uses its one PG-13 F-bomb to talk about how f*cking great Popeyes fried chicken is.
  • A final fight between three all-powerful deities that has the audacity to take place entirely within a flask and never let the audience see what’s happening inside. (And of course, the flask eventually gets shoved up Hitler’s ass.)

Hey, at least it’s not as bad as JACK AND JILL.

Little Nicky adam sandler middle finger
A final message from Adam Sandler.

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There’s naked breasts on top of Kevin Nealon’s head. Knock yourself out.

Little Nicky score
Looking for Henry Winkler…covered in bees? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There’s a celebrity cameo
  • There’s blatant product placement
  • Someone mentions butterflies
  • An alt-rock song from the 90s plays

Double shot if:

  • Nicky makes a joke about the “deep south”

Thanks to Eric Glazer for continually suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.