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Adam Sandler, Jackie Titone, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider

Directed by: Seth Kearsley
Written by: Brooks Arthur, Allen Covert, Brad Isaacs, Adam Sandler
Produced by: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Allen Covert
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

US: 27/11/02 UK: 06/12/02

Animated flick about Davey Stone, a 33-year old party anima. Davey finds himself in trouble with the law after his wild ways go too far. In keeping with the holiday spirit, the judge gives Davey one last chance at redemption — spend the holiday performing community service as the assistant referee for the youth basketball league or go to jail. Davey thinks he got off easy until he meets Whitey Duvall, the eccentric, elf-like head referee. The mismatch between Whitey’s good heart and never-ending optimism and Davey’s constant troublemaking antics soon have them both wondering if going to jail wouldn’t have been easier.
The thought of Adam Sandler didn't used to fill me with much enthusiasm - till the superb Punch Drunk Love. Even though this is animated, Sandler sounds like he's found a darker side to extend his shelf life.

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Adam Sandler gives his most animated performance yet

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The latest from Adam Sandler is an animated musical comedy for which he provides the three main voices (yes, the singing too). And you've got to wonder who this is aimed at, as it's far too adult for kids. This is a holiday movie about a Jewish 33-year-old named Davey (basically an animated Sandler) who is always in serious trouble. His latest antics have landed him with a stiff jail term, but as a last-chance he's allowed to do community service with the incessantly chattering basketball coach Whitey (one of Sandler's most annoying silly voices), a cross between Yoda and Mr Magoo who lives with his twin sister Eleanore (Sandler again) and befriends the local herd of reindeeer. Over the course of the eight nights of Hanukah, Davey is forced to learn Important Life Lessons, confronting his past and re-connecting with his childhood sweetheart Jennifer (Titone).

Yes: It's a Wonderful Life, Mr Scrooge! The plot is simply a cut-and-paste job, stealing every element from Christmas classics and only tangentially touching on Hanukah themes. The songs are rather forgettable and sometimes downright painful (the best one--both musically and visually--has the townsfolk remembering all the terrible things they've done to Whitey over the years). There are a few gags that make you laugh out loud, mostly because you're surprised when something is actually funny. The animation only occasionally surpasses second-rate TV cartoons. And then there's the Sandler sensibility: The film is crammed with bodily-fluid humour and gross-out jokes that make fun of obesity, height, body hair, sexuality and even epilepsy. It's one of those films that you watch with slack-jawed disbelief, wondering who on earth would ever want to see it (beyond a cult following of 25-year-old males). And then there's the song that goes with the closing credits, "outing" famous people as Jews as if it's shocking ... or helpful in any way. One of the strangest films you'll ever see. If you bother.



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