The Waterboy (1998)
Directed by Frank Coraci
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Henry Winkler, Jerry Reed, Larry Gilliard Jr., Blake Clark, Clint Howard, Rob Schneider.
1998 86 minutes
Rated: (for profanity).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, November 7, 1998.
Like Jim Varney in the "Ernest" movies, Adam Sandler has made his living almost consistently playing a dim-witted doofus, as in 1995's embarrassing, "Billy Madison" and 1996's slight, but funny, "Happy Gilmore." This all changed, however, this past February, with the release of his first great film, "The Wedding Singer," in which Sandler, for once, actually had a normal character to play, but proved that he could still be funny. Going into Sandler's latest picture, "The Waterboy," I was optimistic since it was written by Tim Herlihy and directed by Frank Coraci, the same people who worked on "The Wedding Singer." The fact that that film was good only makes "The Waterboy," an even more diappointing follow-up. Sandler has sadly gone back into his "idiot" mode, and gone, also, is any real hints of charm or wit.
Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a constantly made fun of 31-year-old waterboy for a small-town Louisiana football team, who, in the opening scene, is fired by the hateful coach (Jerry Reed). Bobby still lives with his overprotective, but loving Cajun mama (Kathy Bates), who constantly warns him of women, who, she says, are the "devil." Although she desperately wants Bobby to stay with her all day and keep her company, he goes behind her back and becomes the waterboy for another football team, headed by distraught Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), and after defending himself by tackling one of the players, he is actually offered a spot on the team, and a chance to go to college.
One of the surprises about, "The Waterboy," is that it isn't very funny. The typical sports stuff has been overdone to death, and is now just boring. And to top it all off, it inevitably ends with "the big game," and if you have an IQ north of 20, I'm sure you can guess how it all turns out. Since all of the football material was dead-in-the-water, it should have been scrapped, instead, focusing on Bobby's relationship with the only two interesting characters in the film, his mother (played effervescently by Bates) and his potential girlfriend, bad-girl Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk). Balk, who I have always liked, is wonderfully likable and surprisingly funny, so much so that it's unfortunate she wasn't given more screen time. It is these two fine performances that save, 'The Waterboy," from being a complete misfire.
The material in "The Waterboy" is so cliched and recycled that I wonder why Sandler, Coraci, and Herlihy decided to make this after the huge success of, "The Wedding Singer." They should have known this was a big step down for all involved. They should have known that Sandler was much better off actually having a realistic character to play, and they also should have known that sports-type movies have been way overdone. "The Waterboy," is the type of film that must have been made for 8-year-olds. It is sophomoric, and it is dumb.
©1998 by Dustin Putman