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SANDLER WRAPS HIS CRUDITY INTO A HOLIDAY FANTASY

REVIEW

"Eight Crazy Nights"

Rating: **

Directed by Seth Kearsley, and starring the voices of Adam Sandler, Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider.

71 minutes. Rated PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references.

Animated feature about a 33-year-old party animal sentenced to coach youth basketball after a rampage on the first night of Hanukkah. Opens in theaters today.

In the happy tradition of the better films in the Adam Sandler oeuvre ("Happy Gilmore," "Billy Madison"), "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights" is crude, lewd, occasionally hilarious, inevitably juvenile - yet mysteriously poignant enough (for at least 11 minutes of the 71) to warm the heart.

Leave it to Sandler to come up with a Hanukkah cartoon with enough scatological and sexual humor to send the normal "family film" audience screaming from the theater.

Sandler stars as the voice of Davey Stone, a 33-year-old loser. He's a bum, a drunk, a Jewish Scrooge who sings, "I'll never spin a dreidel, but I'll always throw an egg" as he rampages through his picturesque New England-style hometown on the first night of Hanukkah, destroying the town's giant ice sculptures of a Santa and a menorah. (The equal time for Santa and menorah is one of many sly jokes Sandler sprinkles through the film.)

Davey is sentenced to 10 years in the slammer, but a tiny old man named Whitey (whose annoying squeaky voice is also the work of Sandler) offers to let Davey help referee youth basketball instead. Davey later moves in with Whitey and his paranoid twin sister, Eleanor (again voiced by Sandler), who hasn't left the house since her wig was stolen as a prank 40 years before.

"Eight Crazy Nights" has some of the ingredients of the typical holiday film: romance (will Davey win back his childhood sweetheart?), suspense (will Whitey get the community recognition he hungers for?) and schmaltz (will Davey let go of the anger and hurt from a wound suffered in childhood?). But it's so gross, it's not appropriate for children, though kids at the screening seemed hugely amused by the belching, flatulence and poop gags. (There's a guy molesting a car, jokes about epilepsy and masturbation, reindeer with feces-covered smiles, a woman with three breasts, a beefy guy forced to eat a jockstrap.)

The songs are a high point. Sandler sings all three parts in a Broadway-style song-and-dance number titled "Technical Foul," as Whitey and Eleanor lay out the rules of the house: Technical fouls include touching the thermostat, hair clogging the drain, forgetting to spray Lysol when you move a bowel.

And the animation is gorgeous. Great pains were taken to evoke a snow-covered contemporary New England town. (Sandler grew up in Manchester, N.H.) The characters are drawn in such amazing detail, the film has the feel of a live-action movie.

Sandler says he went the animation route because "animation allowed me to use the youthful Sandler and the body I had when I was a 19-year-old and built like a stallion." Fans who miss his physical presence will appreciate the short at the beginning of Sandler with his dog, Meatball (find more mini-movies at AdamSandler.com).

This is a movie strictly for Sandler fans. Stay for the credits to hear his newest version of the Hanukkah song. (In the vein of, "So much funukkah, to celebrate Hanukkah, Hanukkah is the festival of lights, instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.")

e-mail: jwestmoore@buffnews.com

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