Eight nights to flush away

Adam Sandler's latest is a stinker

'Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights' falls squarely into the what-the-hell-were-they-thinking category of moviemaking. This animated abomination is so desperately awful that one walks away amazed at the power Sandler must wield in Hollywood to get it released at all.

The cartoon version of Sandler is Davey Stone, 'just a crazy 33-year-old Jewish guy,' according to narrator Rob Schneider. When Stone is pulled into court for wreaking havoc on the residents of his hometown of Dukesberry, we find out that our hero's also an alcoholic criminal who's been in and out of foster homes, jail and Ñ seriously Ñ mental institutions his whole life.

The film would have us believe, however, that the relentlessly unpleasant Stone is just a sad 12-year-old boy inside, since that was the age at which he lost his parents in a car accident Ñ during Hanukkah, of course.

In the first of several inept and annoying songs, Stone sings, 'I hate love, I hate you, I hate me' several times, to hammer the point home.

To avoid being sent to prison, Stone agrees to work with Dukesberry's volunteer basketball coach, a dwarfish, Mickey Rooney sort named Whitey. Sandler also provides Whitey's voice Ñ a screeching, childlike falsetto that's completely inappropriate for the character and so excruciating that it's like an ice pick drilling into one's frontal lobes.

In addition to the irritating voice, Whitey has a clubfoot, and he's prone to seizures. Oh, the hilarity of watching a 70-year-old man flopping around in an epileptic fit!

Whitey tries to be a good influence on Stone, but Sandler enjoys his alter ego's obnoxious behavior far too much to let him grow through the experience. Stone pitilessly derides a hefty boy for having breasts, mocks an elderly bald woman and continually hurls the most insulting invectives at Whitey.

These scenes are supposed to illustrate what a terrible person Stone is, yet we're encouraged to laugh along with his cruelty.

We're also supposed to laugh at a woman with three breasts, a Chinese guy, a sweaty fat man, the loutish basketball player who has to eat the fat man's jockstrap for losing a bet and several adorable deer who help Whitey by licking poop off him, then grin and show off their brown teeth. Funny? Not in the least.

Stone's redemption comes quickly and with little sincerity, making it even more unpalatable than the scatological and mean-spirited humor. Abruptly switching gears from abject cruelty to maudlin sentimentality, Sandler would have us believe that his character is suddenly a sweet-natured man, deserving of love and ready to turn over a new leaf, but it's offensively condescending.

The poop jokes, boozy misbehavior and calculated cruelty are wrapped up in a movie that pretends to be goodhearted family entertainment. But this isn't a film for kids; it's rated PG-13 for 'frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking, brief drug references.' And the humor is so lacking in any sparkle or wit that it's not for adults, either.

So to end on a positive note, let's put it this way: If you're looking for the perfect holiday film for sociopaths, go see 'Eight Crazy Nights.'

And have a happy Hanukkah.