Directed by Steven Brill, starring Adam Sandler, Harvey Keitel & Rhys Ifans.

For his latest comedy Adam Sandler has gone to hell - in more ways than one. Nicky (Sandler) is Lucifer's (Keitel) youngest and dumbest son. Bullied by his demonic brothers Adrian and Cassius (a chalk and cheese pairing of Rhys Ifans and former wrestler Tiny Lister) he wiles away fiery eternity in his bedroom, listening to bad heavy metal. But when Lucifer announces that he's not going to retire and will rule the depths for another 10,000 years, Nicky finds himself in the middle of a power struggle. Adrian and Cassius, enraged by their father's decision, set off to cause hell on earth, leaving Nicky, the gurning, grinning manchild to save the world and whatever's under it.

The problem with 'Little Nicky' begins and ends with Sandler. While the likes of Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans and Reese Witherspoon ham it up as if their careers are just a minor consideration, Sandler delivers a performance that would cause yawns in a montessori. Goofball characters are one thing, but a goofball character that sounds like Elmo with a 30-a-day habit only convinces an audience that they did something very, very wrong in a past life. Limping and hunched over, Sandler was clearly hoping that his performance would be a worthy addition to the canon of physical comedy, instead it just makes you wonder how funny it would be if one of the other actors hit him. The final insult? Sandler is upstaged by a talking dog called Beefy (how low can you go?) who, the production notes helpfully explain, needed special training for his role. After this Sandler could do with a few lessons himself.

Harry Guerin