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Film Review – The Waterboy (1998)

By now you know that I end every article by asking, “what movie topic should I discuss next?”  Then, I exclaim, “whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!”  However, it dawns on me that I haven’t been living up to this statement.  So, from now on, every Tuesday a reader requested review will be posted.  If you want a certain filmed reviewed, be sure to comment down below or reach out on Twitter!  Today’s review is The Waterboy and comes from @MadAsAHatter9.

Before Adam Sandler went off the deep end, he made some pretty ridiculous comedies.  The following review will be spoiler free.

Synopsis

The Waterboy is directed by Frank Coraci and stars Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, and Henry Winkler.

We follow a 31-year-old named Bobby Boucher (Sandler) that lives in a local backcountry swamp in Louisiana.  As the title suggests, Boucher is a waterboy for a local college football team.  But when his anger causes him to lose his job, he picks up another gig at a consistent losing college in Louisiana where he quickly learns that he is capable of becoming a dominant football player when he utilizes his rage.  In order to turn the fortunes of the team around, Coach Klein (Winkler) gets Boucher on the team with aspirations of returning to glory as a coach.

Background

Suprisingly, The Waterboy had an Oscar-friendly release date of November 3rd, 1998.  While the film isn’t exactly Oscar material, it was actually nominated for AFI’s list of 100 Years…100 Laughs which notes the funniest films of all-time.  However, Adam Sandler was also nominated for a Razzie Award for worst actor.

Luckily, it appears that The Waterboy was a massive hit with fans, becoming Adam Sandler’s second film to eclipse $120 million worldwide by grossing a total of approximately $186 million.  Considering the film had a mere $23 million budget, The Waterboy was a bonafide hit.

Most turn to this film along with others as the height of Adam Sandler’s powers as an actor before he began to phone it in by many people’s standards.  Although he continues to make films on Netflix such as April’s Sandy Wexler, many agree he just isn’t quite the same.

What I Liked

The Waterboy is stupid, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Straddling the line between stupid humor and annoyance is an incredibly tough feat to pull off.  In fact, The Waterboy is most certainly very annoying to a lot of people.  However, the difference between The Waterboy and other stupid films is that it has a fun concept in which it then lampoons on a consistent basis.  Having the waterboy take the team to prominence is a fun switcheroo of typical sports movie cliches.

Lesser sports comedies like Rebound or the remake of Bad News Bears always look to add inticing, skilled players that look the part and fit into the band of misfits on the team.  The fun part of The Waterboy is that it adds the dumbest character of them all to the formula and the team somehow improves.  Although the film becomes more generic after this initial idea (more on that below), it’s a nice little quirk that allows Sandler to go bonkers.

Sandler’s performance is where most viewers draw the line.  You’ll either hate the film because of him or love it for the same reason.   His awkward, grating Southern drawls are the source of a lot of dumb laughs if you’re in the right frame of mind.  On the other hand, you might check out within the first five minutes if you can’t handle it.  As for this critic, it works solidly for this absurd movie.

What I Liked…Continued

From its absurdity comes a ton of quotable moments.  If you’re in college, you’d be hard-pressed to get through a month without someone channeling their inner Bobby Boucher.  Although it doesn’t necessarily highlight the film as a piece of art, there’s something to be said about a film that creates some type of cultural significance after its release.  It speaks to watching The Waterboy for its pure entertainment value.

Many of the film industry’s best critics have lambasted The Waterboy for its quality, including Roger Ebert back in the day.  But, if you’re looking for even the slightest bit of meaning in this film, then you’re searching in the wrong place.  There is nothing here for a classic cinephile.

Lighten up, it’s just stupid fun.

What I Didn’t Like

That being said, even from the most casual viewing perspective, there are some glaring issues with The Waterboy.

Like most sports movies, The Waterboy follows the most generic of storylines as we see an awful team slowly begin to improve with everything culminating in the big game against the main rival (and villain) of the movie.  Sound familiar?  That’s because just about every sports movie does it.  After Rocky, rarely do we get a movie that doesn’t follow an underdog coming to prominence.

Sports movies are consistently at a disadvantage, mostly because the ending can only be one of two results: the team wins or loses.  With these conclusions in mind, it forces the journey of the characters to be wholly rewarding in whatever tone the movie set out to accomplish.  The Waterboy receives serious demerits for this reason.  There are way too many dips in entertainment value to fully recommend this film to everyone.

The film tries to prop up Boucher’s character with relationship moments between his mother and possible girlfriend that detracts from the best parts of the film: the football games.  Are there some occasional funny moments in these instances?  Sure, but the film takes a serious dip in entertainment value when it occasionally tries to become serious in relationship drama that was never intriguing in the first place.  You watch The Waterboy for a few reasons: wacky hi-jinks, football, and celebrity cameos.  That’s it!

Conclusion

The Waterboy is really, really dumb.  When combined with a generic plot, these points would normally kill a movie.  However, this film is unbelievably silly which helps make up for a lot of issues.  It gets a C+.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I’d advise checking it out on Netflix as soon as possible.  We don’t get too many screwball comedies that work anymore.  The Waterboy is a nice reminder that Adam Sandler once cared about his films.  I can’t for the life of me give it a great grade, but it’s certainly a guilty pleasure that is worth your time.

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Thanks for reading!  What are your thoughts on The Waterboy?  Do you want a specific movie reviewed?  Comment down below!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to MovieBabble via email to stay up to date on the latest content.

And, as always, what movie topic should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

26 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    I miss the Adam Sandler of the early 90s (was it 80s maybe?) where he made those stupid audio skits and whatnot. His films have never approached the level of creativity and humor of some of his better skits.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Very true! Maybe he should try to go a little dramatic, he’s been good in those types of roles in the past.

      • Steve says:

        Listening to his The Goat now for nostalgia. Hilarious stuff

      • Nick Kush says:

        Lol you got that right! That looney style doesn’t seem to fit with today’s audiences anymore. It’s a shame…

  2. I loved Kathy Bates in this movie.

  3. Nothing wrong with a little silliness, now and again. Sometimes it’s just what’s needed! (I’ll take silly over pretentious any day of the week.)

    • Nick Kush says:

      You’re totally right! Something could be completely absurd and nonsensical but if you’re having fun then screw it! Lol

  4. Bear Tomás says:

    “Gatorade”

    lol

  5. Great post! I also love Sandler when he’s “good stupid” (“Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore”), not just “stupid stupid” (the “Grown Ups” movies).

  6. Nice review. Even I agree that back in the ’90s, Adam Sandler was (at the very least) tolerable in his films and this is one that’s just not meant for hardcore film critics. Anyway, I’ve got a request for you. He’s celebrating his 30th Birthday this year, so how about you take a stab at all four RoboCop film, or at least the first one?

  7. frandobagel says:

    I find Adam Sandler movies, like you said, straddle that line between stupid and annoying. I had to watch this a few times before I really ‘got it’.

    • Nick Kush says:

      A lot of his films are pretty irredeemable but this one is good fun if you don’t take it so seriously!

  8. I’m not fond of Adam Sandler but someone told me last year that I would enjoy it and your review has confirmed that so thank you!

  9. Jules says:

    Hi Nick,
    I remember Waterboy as one of the few comedies I haven’t been able to see to the end. I first tried to see it on a bus in Mexico and ended up thinking about something else in the dark airconned bus.

    Your posts tend to treat the glossy and very Hollywood, I think, and there’s a lot more to movies (not to offend you, just saying). Since you ask for suggestions, I have some.

    Kristin Scott-Thomas, have a look at the movies she’s been in.
    Tell us what you think of Cate Blanchett . (You had a list of greatest female actors that I didn’t understand).

    Cheers!

    • Nick Kush says:

      I don’t appreciate your critique since a lot of thought goes into them but I’ll look into your recommendation regarding KST.

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