1998; Rated PG-13; 86 Minutes
Adam Sandler: Bobby Boucher
Fairuza Balk: Vicki Vallencourt
Kathy Bates: Mama Boucher
Henry Winkler: Coach Klein
Blake Clark: Farmer Fran
Produced by Jack
Giarraputo, Michelle Holdsworth, Ira Shuman, Robert Simonds
and Rita Smith; Directed by Frank Coraci; Screenwritten
by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler
by DAVID KEYES
like "The Waterboy" begin their lives as great ideas. Directors,
producers and screenwriters get together with the notion
that they can created a successful comedy with both humor
and amusing elements, possibly containing some influential
actors and actresses on screen. All of these things come
together in the later production stages, and at first glance,
the whole idea seems like a simple, worthy one to tackle.
They think that these types of movies carry potential to
be critically acclaimed, financially successful, or, more
then, something bad happens. When the writing process of
these comedies reaches completion, only then do the film
makers realize that something is likely missing here: the
humor. This is supposed to be a comedy, so what's one to
do in this situation?
answer is also easy to tackle. They decide to cast big stars
in their movies (if they choose to accept the parts, of
course) with the notion that big celebrities can turn any
type of bad or dismal material into something plausible.
They honestly believe that big stars like Adam Sandler can
carry out these jokes and comedy routines to the point of
provoking the needed humor, unlike what it doesn't in the
they work. Sometimes movie makers and their stars can turn
a horrible comedy script into something worthy of attention,
because the screen presence of certain talents is enough
to make some material work. We might know that the script
sucks, but with someone we admire on the screen trying their
hardest to make the script look good, we enjoy it sometimes.
As long as they put their passion into it, we have a passable
most of the time, actors know that their script sucks. They
often refuse to work on the project with the intention that
it could destroy their careers, and let's face it, no one
want to do that. But sometimes, actors do it anyway, regardless
if they think the script is awful. In this situation, actors
merely care about the paycheck, and thus, they put hardly
any effort into their parts. This situation violates our
need to see such movies. When our favorite actors don't
care about pleasing anyone in their movies, why bother?
If we see them and expect something great, then we'll be
let down, because their effort is wasted and the humor does
not emerge from the script like film makers hope for.
process is different in many ways, but the description I
have given you is what might run through your mind when
you see a movie like "The Waterboy," a picture so effortless
and moronic that it destroys any faith we might have in
Adam Sandler that he can make a good movie. As the Steve
Martin of the 90s, he's ultimately recognized by all the
mean, cruel, or degrading things he does to other on screen.
In "Happy Gilmore," he beat up Bob Barker. In "The Wedding
Singer," he treated all of his 'non-fans' like they were
the leftovers at a Disneyland hotel. In "The Waterboy,"
he plays a lisp-speaking, clumsy, stupid little mama's boy
whose life has no direction, no purpose, and, apparently,
no human intelligence. After he is hired to be the water
boy for a crumbling Louisiana football team, a few of the
'star' players enjoy insulting him every chance they get.
When he's at the point where he just can't take it anymore,
he exclaims 'stop making fun of me,' and head-butts them,
sort of like a tackle, I guess.
coach, Klein, after witnessing this, decides that, perhaps,
this kid will be an asset into bringing this football team
back into the spotlight. Bobby himself would enjoy the opportunity
to play football with his special tackle ability, but will
his mother let him? She already told him that she wanted
him to have nothing to do with playing this sport. How will
he convince her to let him play?
don't really care. In this evolution of the story, there
are jokes and gags that repeat themselves more than an episode
of "Law & Order" does on cable. A football player insults
Sandler's character, and then he's tackled by the angry
water boy. The first time the joke is demonstrated, I laughed--I'll
admit that much. Afterwards, I didn't, even though the insults
were knew and the reaction of Sandler's character was somewhat
different. It still wasn't funny. Sandler himself can be
funny, but tackling football players because they make fun
of him is no amusing. It gets old fast.
this is a sad fate, because I gather this is a movie that
could have been saved in the writing stages. Putting a big
star like Adam Sandler in a script like this could have
paid off, literally. It could have been funny. But Sandler
himself must be displeased with material, because he hardly
puts his strength in his character. Perhaps if he had the
ambition of working with such material, something better
could have emerged.
again, the movie could have been done in a couple of different
ways as well. Examples of how this movie could have been
made differently are as follows:
They could have paired Sandler up with a character of similar
context. Movies that involve multiple characters interacting
with each other and their surroundings can be funny. Don't
believe me? Watch "Dumb And Dumber" or "Beavis And Butthead
Do America" sometime. Those are comedies, that, yes, involve
someone of limited intelligence, but rather than putting
us up against two or more of them in "The Waterboy," we
merely get one who does not interact with anyone similar
and does not appeal to anyone of interest.
Sandler's character (Bobby, by the way) could have proved
all of the people around him wrong. In "Forrest Gump," the
title role was portrayed as a clumsy, misinterpreted moron
who hardly had the intelligence of your average spoon of
peanut butter. At least, that's what everyone else in the
movie believed. Us in the audience knew he was smart on
the inside, because instead of giving into the fact that
he might be a pure idiot, he became a college graduate,
a war hero, and, among other things, a great father to a
great kid. Considering that Bobby is thought out to be a
dunce from the first moment, he could have proved everyone
wrong by succeeding in things that came naturally to him.
Yes, he does save a football team from going under, but
I hardly consider that important. Football isn't even a
worthy sport. It's men in big bulging uniforms that pounce
each other to prevent a stupid-looking ball from crossing
a yard line. Whoopee! That's exciting! But then again, if
"The Waterboy" had been constructed like "Forrest Gump"
with just one of these dumb characters, it probably wouldn't
have been a comedy.
third way to construct this type of movie is the one film
makers obviously chose. That was to create a single idiotic
character and put him up against obstacles and tasks that
are almost similar in content and not very amusing. So what
if he tackles better than anyone else in Louisiana? So what?
So do other football players.
top of that, it's just dull. Once you've seen a tackle,
you've seen them all. Repeating these practical things is
not funny. The material and insults that these people provoke
are not funny. Why? Because afterwards, he always tackles
someone for it. This sours the whole conception of trying
to insult the heck out of this guy. That's okay in movies,
but why does his reaction or action to the insults always
have to be the same?
is a movie that could have been much better. It could have
been done in several different ways, either bad or good.
This was the way taken because it was obviously the easiest
and quickest way to make money. Write a clumsy script, put
it up against a famous star and see what the result is.
That's probably what director Frank Coraci said to himself
when the script was in the final stage of writing. By then,
a rewrite was probably out of the question. By then, what
else could have possibly saved it?
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.