[Screen It]


(1998) (Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Comedy: A socially inept 31-year-old water boy becomes a tackling sensation when he starts playing football for a local college team.
Bobby Boucher (ADAM SANDLER) is a socially inept, 31-year-old man who still lives with his overprotective Mama (KATHY BATES) in their Louisiana bayou home. The waterboy for the Cougars, the state's best team, he gets fired by their coach, Red Beaulieu (JERRY REED), for "being stupid" and distracting his players by causing them to pick on him.

Dejected, but still proud of his water serving skills, Bobby approaches Coach Klein (HENRY WINKLER) of the South Central LSU football team and asks to be the team's waterboy. Klein, who suffered a nervous breakdown after Red stole his playbook and credit years earlier, is still a nervous basket case, and his team hasn't won a game in years. Even so, he gives Bobby the job.

Arriving on the field, the lowly football players immediately pick on Bobby, and Klein tells him he should stand up for himself or he'll be walked over for the rest of his life. Accordingly, and after another taunting, Bobby's years of taking such abuse finally boil over and he races out onto the field and tackles a player with a bone-jarring hit.

Klein, immediately sensing Bobby's potential, wants him to play on the team, but must first convince Mama. She, however, wants nothing of the sorts for her son, and refuses to grant her permission. Even so, Bobby decides to try out for the team, enrolls in college, and soon becomes a big football star.

As he tries to keep that a secret from his Mama -- while also dealing with her disapproval of his "girlfriend," Vicki Vallencourt (FAIRUZA BALK), who's just been released from jail -- Bobby and Coach Klein prepare for a championship game against Red who will do anything to allow his team to win.

If they're fans of Sandler ("The Wedding Singer," "Happy Gilmore"), Balk ("American History X," "The Craft") or goofy comedies in general, they probably will.
For language and some crude sexual humor.
  • ADAM SANDLER plays the sweet, but socially inept 31-year-old waterboy who becomes a football sensation because of his bone-jarring tackles.
  • KATHY BATES plays his overprotective mother who smothers his chance to grow, but eventually realizes the error of her ways.
  • HENRY WINKLER plays a football coach still traumatized and insecure years after another coach stole his fame.
  • FAIRUZA BALK plays a young, but tough lady, just released from jail, who falls for Bobby.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    In the recent TV commercial for Sears' line of clothing, the catchy jingle urges something along the lines of "Take a closer look...surprise, surprise...come see the softer side of Sears..." For those wondering how that relates to Adam Sandler's latest film, indulge me for a moment.

    In his last release, "The Wedding Singer," the normally sophomoric Sandler surprised everyone by showing his softer, more refined, and gentler side of comedy. Consequently, that film was one of last spring's surprise hits and Sandler's biggest moneymaker by far. Playing beyond, but still entertaining his core base of teen and "twentysomething" males, Sandler proved he could be a crossover success.

    Thus, with some trepidation I attended the screening for his latest film, "The Waterboy." While the previews are admittedly funny, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that Sandler and company have squarely aimed the picture back at his former target audience. Hating to see the return of low brow, sophomoric humor after making such advances with "Wedding Singer," I went in not expecting to like the film.

    Much to my surprise, however, I mostly enjoyed it. While clearly not a sophisticated comedy by any stretch of the imagination -- to be honest, it's actually quite stupid -- the film still manages to elicit quite a few laughs, especially among the actor's die-hard fans. Although the film won't play as well across the moviegoing masses as did his last effort, Sandler proves yet again that the comedic buffoon character is an effective cinematic tool for tickling the funny bone.

    As helmed by "Wedding Singer" director Frank Coraci and written by Sandler and screenwriter Tim Herlihy, the plot is predictable, the characters are two-dimensional at best, and the humor, while thankfully not delving into the scatological realm, is pretty inane stuff. Even so, it's still rather funny.

    Most of that can be attributed to Sandler's performance. Playing the dimwitted and lonely, but good-hearted buffoon, Sandler epitomizes the "loser gets poetic justice" thoughts that filled many a non-popular student's head during their school years and thus immediately gains the audience's empathy. Although it's this type of idiot performance that has repelled many a moviegoer from Sandler's previous efforts -- and is definitely an acquired taste -- few can pull it off better than him.

    The film's supporting roles, while okay, clearly aren't as funny as Sandler's. Oscar winner Kathy Bates ("Primary Colors," "Fried Green Tomatoes"), playing the forceful and overprotective mother, puts something of a comedic, bayou spin on her character from "Misery." Although not an actress one would initially select to be in a goofy comedy, Bates manages to pull it off with a great deal of gusto.

    Henry Winkler (the Fonz on TV's "Happy Days") is enjoyable as the tentative and easy to fold football coach, while Fairuza Balk ("The Craft") and Jerry Reed ("Smokey and the Bandit") are as good as their limited roles allow them to be. Blake Clark, playing the assistant coach whose Cajun dialect is so thick he's nearly unintelligible, offers a few laughs precisely because of that.

    While the film offers up a heapin' of humor throughout its ninety or so minute run time, some of the material isn't that funny. A flashback scene with Winkler and Reed in stereotypical 70's garb and "Afros" was probably funny on paper, but doesn't work that well on screen, and the repeated sight gag of a donkey/mule in the Boucher swamp home is quite stupid, although having it drink out of the toilet did elicit some laughs from the pet owners in the audience.

    In addition, the film's central physical gag -- Bobby envisioning an opposing player's head turning into someone else who gets him mad, and then having him pummel that player with a vicious tackle -- does run out of steam before the film does. Now possible due to what's become the commonplace "morphing" technique, the effect is initially funny -- and generates a great sight gag in one scene where Winkler's head ends up on every opposing player on the field -- but starts to get a bit old once the novelty has worn off.

    While some films are so stupid they're unintentionally funny, and others are so moronic that they're not, "The Waterboy" manages to elicit a fair number of laughs despite its predictable plot, mediocre characters and mostly unimaginative writing.

    In other words, it's a perfect, old-style Adam Sandler flick that's certain to entertain his longtime, loyal fans. For everyone else? It's a tough call, but if you don't expect a thing from this film, you may just find yourself having a good time. We give "The Waterboy" a 6 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity is heavy due to what sounded like 1 "f" word, and an assortment of other words and phrases also occur during the movie. Some sexually related comments are made (but aren't too bad), a woman shows Bobby her bare breasts (we only see his reaction), and we briefly see a coach's bare butt as he shows his tattoo.

    We also see the running sight gag of the cheerleaders being falling down drunk, although such instances are extremely brief. Many players and another coach make fun of Bobby's presumed stupidity, and some football related violence with bone-jarring tackles also occurs during the film.

    Beyond that, many of the other categories have little or no objectionable content. Nonetheless, you may want to take a closer look at what's been listed should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for you or someone else in your home.

  • A running sight gag is that of the college's cheerleaders drinking until they're falling down (or passed out) drunk. Such scenes, including one where the team mascot falls over drunk, however, are extremely brief.
  • Red has a beer in front of him while eating at a bar.
  • Players and students drink at a party.
  • Former pro football player, Lawrence Taylor, makes a cameo appearance ironically telling kids not to use crack (while he's recently had trouble with the law for drug use).
  • A sheriff and his deputy have champagne on New Year's Eve.
  • They play the final football game in the "Bourbon Bowl."
  • While not really either, the sight of football players sharing their athletic "cup" (groin protection) evoked a lot of "gross" comments from the audience.
  • Likewise, there are several scenes where Mama serves up cooked wild animals as food, such as a large snake for dinner, and barbequed baby alligators (one of which Vicki bites off its crispy head).
  • We see urine stains on Bobby's sheets hanging on the clothes line that his Mama points out to Vicki.
  • Players for several teams are mean and tease Bobby, making fun of his slight stutter and presumed stupidity (and hit him with the football, knock him down, and spit in his water).
  • Red has both toward Bobby and Coach Klein (making fun of both).
  • We learn that Bobby's father left his mother for other women.
  • Some may see Mama's overprotective reaction toward Bobby as having some of both. In turn, Bobby lies to his mother about playing football and being in college.
  • It's possible some citizens of Louisiana may be offended by the film's portrayal of simpletons inhabiting that area.
  • None.
  • Vicki holds a knife to an opposing player's throat who menacingly approached Bobby during a prep rally.
  • Phrases: "Sh*thead," "Needled*ck," "Moron," "Idiot," "Open up a can of woop ass," "Dink," "Shut up," "You stink" and "Sucks."
  • Bobby's bone-jarring tackles (along with his poking another player in the eyes, hitting another with a flying kick, etc...) may evoke some imitative behavior among kids.
  • Many players pick on Bobby and imitate him, and one even spits into his water cooler.
  • Coach Klein has a tattoo on his butt, and an assistant (male) coach has pierced nipples.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • What sounded liked 1 "f" word, at least 6 "s" words (1 written), 5 names using male genitals ("needled*ck"), 16 asses (2 used with "hole"), 4 hells, 2 damns, and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • We see a brief closeup of Coach Klein's bare butt as he shows a tattoo on it.
  • To taunt Bobby, another player says, "I'll be playing with your mama tonight."
  • Two women at a party approach Bobby and ask if he's seeing any women. Not understanding the dating implication, he says that he sees women and men too. One of the college women, misunderstanding him in return, comments that she finds that (her presuming he's bisexual) sexy. He then comments that he was with his Mama and Coach Klein the other night (and she says, "You are a bad boy").
  • After kissing Bobby and learning that it was the first time he's done that, Vicki undoes her top and exposes her bare breasts to him (we only see his reaction). He gets uncomfortable, however, and has her leave.
  • Bobby tells Mama, "I like Vicki, and she likes me back. And she showed me her boobies, and I like them too."
  • We see a brief shot of the local sheriff and his deputy partying on New Year's Eve with champagne and their shirts off (implying comic homosexuality).
  • Vicki briefly comments that she'll later, and properly, introduce Bobby to manhood.
  • While hugging Vicki after breaking down about being an unattractive geek, a man briefly gropes her clothed breast.
  • Bobby is confused about what's going to happen on his wedding night, and a bystander in the crowd yells, "Do it. You can do it," while swiveling his hips in somewhat of a sexual manner.
  • Vicki smokes a few times.
  • Some cheerleaders smoke, as do people at a party.
  • Bobby's Mama tells him that his father died before he was born, but we later learn that the father simply left Mama for other women.
  • Making fun of other people.
  • Most of Bobby's football related tackles are of the bone-jarring variety where those he tackles are often dazed afterwards.
  • A football, thrown by an unseen player, hits Bobby on the head, and later others have put a water cooler on his head (and then step on it -- on his head -- as they walk away).
  • Imitating his favorite wrestler, Bobby pokes another player in the eye.
  • Mad at a professor for making fun of his Mama, Bobby violently tackles him (and we later see the professor and he's rather banged up).
  • Bobby leaps into the air and lands a flying kick on an opposing player.
  • An opposing player menacingly approaches Bobby and so Vicki suddenly holds her knife to this player's throat (and is subsequently arrested).
  • In anger, Coach Klein throws some object through a window that breaks it, and then hits a professor on the head.
  • Played for laughs, Vicki holds up a sign for Bobby reading "Do you want me to kill them?" regarding some people giving Bobby his high school equivalency test.
  • Mama runs and violently tackles her former husband.

  • Reviewed November 3, 1998

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