Davey Stone: Smell ya later, poopsicle.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
You know Chanukah is not a holiday that much represented in the world of cinema. Alas the only major Chanukah movie out there is this animated piece of crap starring Adam Sandler. The man has certainly made some good movies in the last couple years such as The Meyerowitz Stories in 2017 and Uncut Gems this year. Despite these great movies, I don’t think it’s enough to come back from all the bad movies he’s done prior (at least not yet anyway. Feel free to disagree). This one included.
The story involves bitter alcoholic Davey Stone (voiced by Adam Sandler) whose partying ways get him into trouble with the law. In spirit of the holidays the judge gives Davey a chance to redeem himself by performing community service by being an assistant referee for the youth basketball league training under the elderly referee Whitey Duvall (also voiced by Sandler).
Firstly I don’t know why this is a Chanukah movie. It has little to do with Chanukah except for it being the night his parents died. Heck we only get Sandler’s famous Chanukah song at the end credits. In similar vein of most bad Adam Sandler movies, the movie has a rather asinine tone to it. The movie is only 70 minutes long but with the terrible body and lowbrow humor racial stereotypes, and blatant product placement it REALLY drags out. What really gets me is how shockingly mean spirited it is. Our so called “protagonist” Davey is EXTREMELY unlikable. According to the judge as part of Davey’s community service, if Davey commits one more crime he’s getting thrown in the slammer for good. Well throughout the movie he for reasons that are beyond me he repeatedly commits crime after crime and somehow never gets busted. He’s such a jerk to everyone in the town to the point that I could not care less if he redeems himself. What’s worse is the way it tries to manipulate the audience into having that holiday spirit by giving Davey a dramatic backstory. It’s a complete slap in the face considering everything prior to it and the way it’s delivered by Whitey to his sister Eleanor. I mean I get that Davey losing his parents at a young age is a terrible thing that no child should have to go through and it would hurt anyone. But it does not give Davey an excuse to be the jerk he is to the town for 20 years.
Despite a shitty story the shocking thing is the animation is SURPRISINGLY good. It looks like something out of the Iron Giant. Characters like Whitey and his sister are a lot more cartoony but everyone else looks surprisingly polished just to the right amount to keep them from being rosy. And the winter backgrounds of Dukesberry, New Hampshire with the architecture and clearness do give that winter feeling. In fact, the animation is good to a fault. The supposedly “comedic” tone this movie has does not match up with this kind of beautiful animation. It’s good animation. Just not the kind for this movie.
In regards to the characters I’ve already mentioned how much I hate Davey Stone. And Sandler’s Whitey voice is downright nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying to listen to. He’s pretty much nothing more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and honestly if not for his annoying voice I would kind of feel sorry for him. Whitey’s sister Eleanor is also voiced by Sandler and while I can say she’s just as annoying she at least sounds like a different person. The only character I kind of liked is Jennifer Friedman, Davey’s childhood friend but even she’s pushed aside for all the “humor” in this movie. Anyone else is simply just a one-off joke. But overall there are no characters to be enjoyed in this movie.
Finally there are the song: Davey’s song (literally called Davey’s song) establishes right off the bat that Davey is a man to be despised. The Patch song and Technical foul only add to Whitey’s annoyingness. Bum Biddy never felt earned. And the same can be said for the Intervention Song. The one song that is decent is Long Ago (at least when Whitey isn’t singing). All around the songs do more to hurt than help this movie.
Overall, Eight Crazy Nights is one of the worst holiday movies out there. It’s got great animation but a bad story and unlikable characters make it nothing to write home about. And as one of the only few Chanukah movies out there, it’s saddening that there is nothing better in cinema to represent it. To any Jewish person (or anyone else) who may be reading this who wants a better representation of Chanukah (particularly in animation) watch the Rugrats Chanukah TV special. I mean for a show about talking babies it’s far more insightful and enjoyable than it needs to be and it’s a good way to teach children about the holiday hitting certain crucial notes and there are plenty of laughs for adults about how the babies interpret the holiday.