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Little Nicky Review

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When the devil's mean older sons spread mischief on Earth, Satan begins to fall apart. Nicky, his misfit youngest son, is sent to New York City to track down his evil siblings, but he is distracted by falling in love and take-out chicken. Adrian, the devi

★★★★★

This Adam Sandler person, the hottest comedian-star in American movies, has everyman looks that make him an acceptable light leading man in fare like The Wedding Singer.

But he's drawn to the bent-over-double contortions and strangled whiny voice approach Jerry Lewis used to be so fond of. In Little Nicky, he goes all-out to lose himself in his character, a hell-heaven hybrid with the soul of decency and the outer shell of a fashion-challenged Quasimodo with a bad haircut and a speech impediment.

Though it doesn't get as deep into perverse theology as South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, this is a far smarter devil-and-angel comedy than Dogma or Bedazzled, pulling in a Milton quote and something like a consistent eschatology as a backdrop for an unending parade of gags. A major problem with the export of Sandler movies is that they are stuffed with so many minor celeb cameos, American sports obsessions and Yankee localisms, it would take a special pull-out edition of Angie's Americana to explain all the jokes - and then you'd find that a big percentage of them aren't even worth the effort.

Dana Carvey's (unrecognisable under make-up) turn as a mean-spirited referee at a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game is funny if you are in on the gag, but completely bewildering otherwise.The duds (including a running cameo from Quentin Tarantino as a blind prophet) and the incomprehensible bits mostly get out of the way swiftly enough to make room for better things, which include spot-on support from Keitel as a sentimental Devil Dad, Rodney Dangerfield as Grandpa Lucifer, Reese Witherspoon as a valley girl angel in a hideous pink paradise, Allen Covert as a closeted gay actor roommate, Michael McKean as a possessed New York City police chief, Henry Winkler covered in bees and Patricia Arquette as the design student love interest with no design sense at all.

There's plot, there's effects, there's jokes. What more do you want?

If you can take Sandler for more than five minutes, this is his funniest film to date. If not, try Woody Allen.