The Waterboy (1998): A Generic Yet Hilarious Romp
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.
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.
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!
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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