Waterboy, The (1998)
Release Date: November 6th, 1998 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Frank Coraci Actors: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Blake Clark, Peter Dante, Larry Gilliard Jr., Clint Howard, Rob Schneider
ow here’s a film so deplorably unfunny it should never have been conceived. It’s the result of a filmmaker (Adam Sandler) with enough money to fund his own terrible ideas, thereby passing up the typical executives who would have forbidden such a project from being greenlighted. Scripted by Sandler as well, this juvenile, unnecessary, and utterly pathetic madness can barely be considered a comedy; the jokes are so immature and flat that it more closely resembles a tragedy.
In Jackson’s Bayou, Louisiana, Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) has spent eighteen years serving up the most exquisite, masterfully prepared H20 to undeserving football players from various high school and college teams. He’s now 31 years old, has no social skills, still lives with his overprotective mother Helen (Kathy Bates) and her house-donkey Steve, and has just been fired from his current “waterboy” position. He’s a stuttering, simple-minded fool, who is only truly sympathetic if viewers believe he’s mentally deficient. In “Forrest Gump” fashion, his mother feeds him useless advice that further serves to make him look ridiculous when he repeats such nonsense to his peers.
In his quest to obtain another waterboy job, Bobby stumbles upon Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), an equally timid, scatterbrained moron who frequently talks to imaginary people. Klein’s team, the Mud Dogs, have an impressive 40-game losing streak – so Bobby volunteers to serve water to the team for free. During a practice, when several disagreeable players harass Bobby, his temper gets the better of him and he unleashes a phenomenal tackle. For Bobby, mean people just generate tackling fuel. Klein sees the potential and recruits Bobby to play on the team, agreeing not to let Mrs. Boucher find out that her son is participating in the cursed “foosball.” Apparently, no other football player has ever used rage to increase tackling power against opponents. Bobby’s performance also attracts the attention of “godless jezebel” Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk), who attempts to woo the vacuous young man (like something out of “Big” or “Rain Man”).
A few moral lessons do emerge, but they’re shamelessly covered in tepid jokes or mildly raunchy innuendo. Also, there is no character development for this sad lot of creations, outside of the cast merely moving through various events. None are particularly likeable and audiences aren’t given a chance to understand them. Bobby inexplicably dresses in suits as loud as Harry and Lloyd’s from “Dumb and Dumber,” bad girl Vicki is drawn to the waterboy in basic male fantasy design, and the most memorable bit is a cameo by Rob Schneider, who shrieks, “You can do it!” at inopportune times.
It’s never explained whether Bobby has an actual mental retardation or if he has just been too sheltered by his mother to function in the real world. Vicki is comparably introduced in an abrupt segment that seems oddly like the tail end of scene; it’s alluded to that she’s spent time in prison, but no details are given to inform whether Bobby knew her previously, or why a rebellious wild child would take a liking to an insecure numbskull. Perhaps the only thing that needs no explaining is that Adam Sandler films are rarely meant to appeal to anyone with an ounce of intelligence.
– Mike Massie