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.
Copyright © 2000 Dustin Putman