Full disclosure: I was 14 when Little Nicky first released and I absolutely loved it.
I loved it so much, I shoplifted a copy of the Little Nicky DVD from K-Mart, because I just had to have those extra features, like the commentary track and music video for P.O.D.’s “School of Hard Knocks“ which was featured on the soundtrack. (This was before YouTube was a thing and you could not watch music videos on demand yet)
Even at fourteen, I knew this was the downswing of Adam Sandler’s comedy. Or, at the very least, when I first began to admit that maybe Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were simply successful anomalies. I remember hearing rumbles in 1998 after The Waterboy released. I denied it.
Then came Little Nicky, and you can see the early stages of what become Sandler Staples in recent years: regional set-pieces, established good actors phoning it in, excessive product placement, sexism, forced and unearned sentimentality, and gay/trans panic to name a few.
Sandler plays the titular silly-voiced son of Satan (Harvey Keitel) and Reese Witherspoon (cameo!). Satan has ruled hell for ten thousand years and is set to announce the next ruler, with the candidates being between Little Nicky, and his two shitty brothers Cassius (Lister) and Adrian (Ifans). Nicky’s brothers bully him incessantly and he fears for either of them to rule Hell.
Luckily, Satan decides to make the ruler for the next ten thousand years… himself! Nicky’s thrilled, but his brothers are pissed, so they leave hell for Earth. Their absence freezes the portal to Hell so no new souls can arrive, and without new souls, Satan starts to die.
Nicky needs to go to earth, find his brothers out of the entire world, and then bring back his two evil brothers with the use of a talking dog with a silly voice (Robert Smigel) and a magical flask with which to trap them.
Nicky arrives in New York City from Hell and begins the arduous process of searching for his brothers. They could literally be anywhere in the world, but both of them are actually also in NYC too! Not only that, but they’re incredibly easy to identify and reach. Blah, blah, blah… Nicky falls in love with a nerdy Patricia Arquette, lives with a silly-voiced struggling actor (more gay jokes!), meets two silly-voiced satanist metal-heads who are, obviously, huge fans of his father.
They all stumble toward the film’s finish line to save the day. The end. If you think I haven’t given enough information on the plot of the film, just ask yourself one question: Have you seen an Adam Sandler film from the last 15 years? Imagine any of those, but set “in” Hell. Except not really, because most of the film takes place in NYC instead of Hell.
The worst part about Little Nicky is just how insulting it is to the viewer’s intelligence. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Adam Sandler actually DOES make movies for 13 and 14 year-olds. That’s why I loved this trash film when I was fourteen and hate it now.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
- Satan is literally falling apart during the movie. His ears fall off and he tells Nicky he cannot hear him. But at the end of the movie, Satan is reduced to a mouth held up by two arms, he is able to have a conversation and hear perfectly.
- They also released a Little Nicky VIDEOGAME for the Gameboy Color. It also did not do very well.
- The movie cost $85M but only brought in around $50M . For contrast, The Waterboy cost $23M but had a yield of over $160M. Even Big Daddy made $163M on a budget of $34M. Little Nicky is officially Sandler’s first real BOMB after finding success.
- It’s weak and annoying, and boring.
- CAMEOS: Dana Carvey, Regis Philbin, Ozzy Osbourne, Dan Marino, Quentin Tarantino, John Witherspoon, Clint Howard, Rob Schneider, Henry Winkler, Carl Weathers as Chubbs from Happy Gilmore, John Lovitz, Reese Witherspoon, Bill Walton, Rodney Dangerfield.
- Adrian and Cassius have possessed some human bodies on earth to cause havoc, and Nicky finds them immediately because… a Harlem Globetrotters game is… televised live? Have the Globetrotters ever been on TV and it not been on an episode of Scooby Doo or Futurama?
- The special effects are so terribly dated.
- This is the start of Sandler’s downfall because he sacrifices any sort of plot, for bits or gags. You can tell the film was written as a series of short gags, instead of characters in situations.
- Adam Sandler’s previous films aren’t by any means infallible, but the characters were in service to the plot. It’s a simple but important requirement.
- SO MUCH PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!
- Product placement is so bad that both Coke and Pepsi are featured and you can’t tell who wrote the bigger check. (Pretty sure it was Coke).
- There is no Hell worse than watching Little Nicky.