Review by Gordon Justesen
Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Henry Winkler
Director: Frank Coraci
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: August 4, 2009
“No son of mine is gonna play any foos-ball.”
In Judd Aptaow’s brilliant new film Funny People, Adam Sandler plays a popular standup comic/comedic actor who begins reflecting on his career after realizing he has a life threatening illness. Eventually, we learn he was the star of several lame-brained comedies that were big box office hits. It seems that Sandler was portraying a bit of himself in the movie since he was in fact the star of several lame-brained comedies.
One of those was The Waterboy, which remains one of the actor’s most popular movies to date, as well as one of his un-funniest. I’m guilty of liking many of Sandler’s comedies. If you’ll recall, I am one of very few defenders of Little Nicky (I’m sorry, people, but that one makes me laugh).
However, The Waterboy is part of what I like to call Sandler’s Trilogy of Suck, the other two installments being Mr. Deeds and Click. The only thing I’ll say in its defense is that it’s better than Mr. Deeds and Click, which should only indicate to you how much I really don’t like Mr. Deeds and Click. Oh wait, I just remembered…I don’t like Big Daddy either, so I guess that means it’s a quadrilogy…er, forget it.
But just think about that for a second; it’s not hard at all for a one-note Adam Sandler comedy to make me laugh (again, see Little Nicky). So if I’m getting zero laughs from a one-note Adam Sandler comedy, then you know something isn’t right. And The Waterboy is as one-note as it gets, not to mention painfully predictable and just not all that engaging.
Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a dimwitted…um, dimwit who has long been a dedicated waterboy for the Louisiana Cougars, who are so embarrassed by him that the coach (Jerry Reed) fires him. He’s also 31 years old and still lives with his mom (Kathy Bates). It already reads like the plotline of a bad sitcom.
Anyway, poor old Bobby gets picked on by the bullying players every single day. But one day, he feels like taking it no more. After taking the last straw, he charges at a mean player and delivers one hell of a tackle.
This inspires Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) of the rival South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs to put Bobby on his team as a linebacker. The only problem is, the Mud Dogs have the worst losing streak of any team in the country. Can Bobby lead them to victory? Correction; it’s like the plotline of a bad sitcom, but with sports movie clichés too!
Apparently, just about everyone I know is baffled by my low opinion of this movie, especially since I endorse Little Nicky, another movie where Sandler put on an annoying accent for 90 minutes. What I can’t seem to convince anybody is that Little Nicky, as dumb a movie as it is, goes for broke in its every attempt to get a laugh and actually succeeded in delivering them. That movie has a special kind of wackiness, while The Waterboy is a pure, boring by-the-numbers farce.
The mainstream moviegoing public at this movie up when it came out over ten years ago, eventually making it one of the top ten highest grossing movies that year. It’s one of the rare cases in movie history where I end up being the bad guy for siding with the majority of critics who detested the film. I’ve tried giving this movie multiple chances over the years, but I didn’t like when I saw it in theaters in 1998…still don’t like it in bright, shining Blu-ray form in 2009.
This Blu-ray presentation from Touchstone does make the most of a plain looking feature. The football field set pieces come off strongly, with strong looking colors in both the green of the field and the uniforms of the players. Plenty of bright day time sequences, which appear much better than the darkly lit sequences. Picture detail is stronger in a number of scenes than it is in others, but overall this is a very good handling.
The DTS HD mix does bring some physical kick to this aggressive physical comedy. Music selections on the soundtrack and the football action provide presentation highlights. Dialogue delivery is terrific throughout.
Features (Zero Stars)
Not a bloomin’ thing.
The Waterboy is a movie I disliked but one that a lot of people loved. It just worked out that way, unfortunately. However, if you are one of the many admirers of this movie and are curious of the Blu-ray enhancement to the presentation, you will probably like what you see and hear.