Get your Popeyes and puffer jackets: This month, No Future celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the under-appreciated Adam Sandler uncut gem, LITTLE NICKY. The film was a financial disappointment that briefly cast doubt on the Sandler brand. Yet LITTLE NICKY is ripe for a modest reappraisal as a good-natured, lowbrow riff on King Lear, starring the Sandman as the titular prince of darkness, a gender-swapped Cordelia trying to save his father’s infernal kingdom by stopping his bratty older brothers (Rhys Ifans and Tiny Lister Jr.) from making hell on earth in Manhattan.
Sandler is winning as the self-conscious Nicky, though much of his performance is predetermined by his trademark speech impediment and face-pulling. LITTLE NICKY’s charms lie mostly in its inventive sight gags and committed ensemble cast, which run the gamut from Sandler staples to award-winning luminaries. Co-starring Harvey Keitel as Satan, whose body falls apart in Mr. Potato Head fashion once his sons start depriving him of sinners to feed on, the film features a treasure trove of unorthodox supporting turns, from Quentin Tarantino and Reese Witherspoon to Patricia Arquette as Nicky’s love interest, a design student who sees past his ticks, bodily contortions, and Pete Wentz haircut to his good heart.
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