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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/2/01



Little Nicky
New Line Platinum Series - 2000 (2001) - New Line

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Little Nicky: Platinum Series

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/A

Specs and Features

90 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:22:32, at the start of chapter 18), Snapper case packaging, audio commentary (with director Steven Brill, Adam Sandler and co-writer Tim Herlihy), audio commentary moderated by Michael McKean (featuring cast members Jon Lovitz, Henry Winkler, Blake Clark, Peter Dante, Clint Howard, Rhys Ifans, Tiny Lister, Kevin Nealon, Jonathan Loughran and Ozzy Osbourne), 21 deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes feature Adam Sandler Goes to Hell, Satan's Top 40 feature, P.O.D. music video for School of Hard Knocks, DVD-ROM features (including script-to-screen screenplay, original theatrical web-site), Easter egg hiding Lord of the Rings teaser trailer, animated film-themed menus with sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned

Nicky (Adam Sandler) is the youngest of Satan's (Harvey Keitel) kids and is constantly picked on by his brothers (Tiny Lister and Rhys Ifans). Papa Satan has decided that the time has come for a successor to his throne, but not for another ten thousand years. Big brothers don't like the thought of this, so they jump through the gates of hell to wreak havoc on New York City. The problem with this is, they've sealed the gates to Hell. If no sinners can get it, Satan will die. It's up to bumbling, shy Nicky to go to Earth and bring them back. When he gets to Earth, he finds that daddy has provided him with a guide, a bulldog named Beefy. Beefy does a lot of things, but mostly he farts and talks a load of bull. He shows Nicky some of the Earth's finer points, like Popeye's Fried Chicken. Once settled in, Nicky finds that his brothers are turning the place upside down - priests are calling for damnation of all things good and the Harlem Globetrotters lose a game! Poor, unprepared Nicky has to harness his evil side to match wits with his brothers and restore peace to the Earth. If he doesn't, Hell will perish and his father with it.

I have zero expectations from an Adam Sandler movie. Thus far in his career, the only movie of his that I halfway enjoyed was The Wedding Singer. But even that one, with its typical overdoses of Sandler character idiosyncrasies, had its share of stinker moments. Going into one of his movies, you know that three things will happen - he'll do a lot of yelling, he's going to have a silly accent and he will get the girl in the end. This scenario is dressed up in different ways in his films, but it mostly holds true. Funny enough, Sandler is the least satisfying thing in Little Nicky. He has a host of sidekicks (including a 80's time-warped pair of devil worshipping metal heads) and even a love interest (Patricia Arquette) to spice things up a bit. There's also a whole host of cameos, some funny (Ozzy Osbourne and Jon Lovitz), some not so funny (many of the SNL alumni). Maybe it was my lowered expectations, or maybe I was distracted by a bellyache from too many Fun-Size Butterfingers, but I didn't hate Little Nicky. Some of the jokes fall flat and I could have done without some of the gross-out moments, but it was also charming at times. Moreover, I even laughed a couple of times. I think that's the best I can say about it. If that's a backhanded compliment or a chicken's way of saying I enjoyed it, so be it.

Though the movie has its disappointing spots, the disc sure doesn't. This is another good release from New Line's Platinum Series. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is almost without flaw. This is a transfer of a new film from an absolutely clean print, so you're going to find very little to complain about. Little Nicky (and its Hell scenes in particular) is very colorful and vibrant with lots of movement and texture. Much of the underworld is filled with red, fiery colors; Earth in neutral tones and the heavenly scenes are soft, whitish shots. All these scenes are handled nicely, with the only real drawback being an occasional glimpsing of digital artifacting, mostly noticeable in the underworld shots. Black level (and there's a lot of it) is perfect, and the resolution and detail afforded by the clean transfer is one of the better points of the visual presentation. There are quite a few digital effects shots in the film, but when it comes to the home theatre presentation, they all make the grade.

The audio is just as good. The liveliest part of the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is the music track. The original score sounds very much like a cartoon score and is mixed with a healthy dose of not-so-cartoonish metal tracks by artists new and old. Together, they work all parts of the sound field with a fair amount of action directed toward the .1 LFE channel. The majority of the split channel effects are spread across the left and right speakers at the front end of the sound field. You'll hear a few in the rear portion for effects purposes, but otherwise the music track fills the surround fields. The dialogue sounds crisp and without distortion and is as strong as the other portions of the sound mix. Overall, this is good Dolby Digital audio, that is better that what you get with most comedies. Though the disc is Closed Captioned, New Line has (for one reason or another) opted not to include any subtitle tracks, either English or otherwise. Not a huge loss, but a loss nonetheless.

Little Nicky is New Line's umpteenth Platinum Series release and is no slacker in the features department. Just about everything here is worth a look and listen. First up is the Adam Sandler Goes to Hell feature. It runs about 30 minutes in length, and contains equal portions of insight and promotion. There are brief snippets of dialogue from the cast and director, but this is mainly a look at the making of the film. You'll hear from most of the major players in creating the look of Little Nicky - the costumer, an extensive session with production designer Perry Blake, the makeup artist, many of the stars who make cameos, the director and more. Satan's Top 40, while not directly related to the film, is a look at the history of heavy metal and its impact on the youth culture, the "mainstreaming" of Satanism and the difference between girl-oriented hairbands (Poison and Ratt) and the real deal (Black Sabbath and Judas Priest). If you grew up listening to metal or had an older brother who threatened to kick your ass if you played your Michael Jackson record on his metal-only turntable (that would be me), then you'll dig it. It's definitely a cool retrospective and you'll hear from people who were there for it all - Gene Simmons, Ronny James Dio, Ozzy Osbourne and others. Kudos to New Line for giving both of these features the anamorphic treatment. Rounding out the metal edge features is the P.O.D. video for School of Hard Knocks. Not my bag, but I'm sure they have their fans.

There are two commentary tracks for your listening pleasure. The first is with Sandler, his co-writer and director Brill. Each one of them has input on the track, but many times Sandler has to egg them on by prompting them with a "remember when we…" or "that reminds me of when…" More listener-friendly is the track featuring input from ten of the film's actors. At times it's very funny, and there's never a dull moment to the track. My fear with this track was that it would become overloaded with input from the actors, but moderator Michael McKean does a good job of keeping everyone in line and guiding them along with questions for discussion. I never thought I'd be hearing a commentary track moderated by Lenny (what, no Squiggy?) but there you have it. In total, there are 21 deleted scenes (in anamorphic widescreen), but most of these are, in actuality, extended versions of scenes already in the film. The one outtake is actually the funniest of the bunch, as they try unsuccessfully to coerce Beefy into mounting a Cocker Spaniel. The majority of these deleted scenes really interrupts the flow of the film and seems heavily improv'ed. The film did not suffer without them. You'll also get New Line's standard ROM features (script-to-screen screenplay access and the original website) and the theatrical trailer.

One note to Lord of the Rings fans - look for the very first teaser trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring hidden as an Easter egg on this disc, in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. A nice bonus.

Depending on how you feel about Adam Sandler, Little Nicky may be a sign of better things to come. Fans expecting the usual assortment of Sandler gross-outs were disappointed, and it wasn't the blockbuster New Line counted on (stateside, it only grossed about half its budget). I'm more of a small dose kind of a guy when it comes to Sandler, but a good portion of Little Nicky entertained me and made me laugh. It's certainly worth a look, if only for the fun set design. Movie debate aside, the disc is an absolute winner. What did you expect? It's New Line. If you like the film, you'll definitely want to add the DVD to your collection.

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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