With his role as the endearing hero in the wonderful romantic
comedy The Wedding Singer, goofy comic Adam Sandler reached a wider
audience. His effortless charm won over many who had previously been
immune to his whining, obnoxious, dumb screen persona and his
outrageous brand of manic humour. His latest comedy has already
proven to be very popular in the States, although it is a backward
step following the broadly appealing The Wedding Singer. The Waterboy
heralds a return to the sort of crass, unsubtle and juvenile humour
that drove his earlier movies Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison.
In a tailor-made role, Sandler again plays the familiar
gormless loser who eventually triumphs against all odds. Sandler
plays Billy Boucher, a naive lad from the bayous of Louisiana, who has
been sheltered by his domineering and over possessive mother (Kathy
Bates, from Misery, etc). No stranger to life's hardships, Mama
Boucher has protected her little boy from the wilder world and its
influences, which she claims are "the devil's work." Consequently, he
lacks a real education and any social skills.
He works as the water distribution engineer (i.e.; waterboy)
for a local college football team, but he is basically treated as a
joke and constantly put down by the players. When he is fired by
Beaulieu (Jerry Reed, from the Smokey And The Bandit series, etc), the
arrogant, conniving, and very successful coach, Bobby approaches his
less successful rival coach Klein (Henry Winkler) for a job as the
team's waterboy. Klein's second rate team has lost the past forty
games, and seems in no danger of turning around its losing streak.
When Klein discovers that Bobby's anger makes him the most
fearsome tackler in the college league, he takes a punt and puts the
waterboy on the team. Bobby becomes an integral part of the team's
improbable, and fairy tale-like success. But can he take the team all
the way to the championships without Mama finding out?
Along the way, the shy Bobby finds love with the tough Vicki
Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk, from The Craft, etc), and helps coach Klein
overcome his fear of long time rival Beaulieu. Sandler has created
The Waterboy with several of his former college friends, including
director Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer) and regular co-writer and
collaborator Tim Herlihy (who has written his last four movies). They
seem to have enjoyed themselves enormously making the film, and some
of their infectious humour will spill over onto the audience.
The cast also seems to have enjoyed themselves immensely.
Cast largely against type, Oscar winner Bates throws caution to the
winds here. Her over the top performance lacks restraint, but it
perfectly suits the mood of the film. Winkler's performance as the
confused and dithering coach Klein is a far cry from the days when he
played the legendary Fonz, two decades ago.
The parade of cameos from American sporting commentators and
real life football identities will largely go unrecognised by
Australian audiences, as will a lot of the parochial humour. A
passing knowledge of the rules, strategies and complex game plans of
American football would also be a big help in understanding much of
the action here.
The Waterboy is a very silly, very crass film, but it will
undoubtedly prove very popular with Sandler's legion of fans.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King