The Waterboy (1998)

The Waterboy (1998)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Sport
  • Director: Frank Coraci
  • Cast: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler


31-year-old waterboy Bobby Boucher is constantly tormented by the team he works for until he is fired by the coach. He then finds a new coach to work for. Here he finds a new talent, tackling people by pretending they’re making fun of them. Soon, he becomes the best linebacker in college football, but he must keep it secret from his overprotective mother.

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  • Adam Sandler has always been one of those known comedians to be grouped into the category of you either love him or you hate him. Very few audiences find him somewhere in the middle. After proving his comic ability on Saturday Night Live, Sandler began moving towards the movie business, getting into bigger and bigger projects. As for director Frank Coraci, it would not be until him, Sandler and writer Tim Herlihy met together to make The Wedding Singer (1998). From there, the three would pair up to make a number of future films. Of this list, this would be their second feature and probably second most respected of that bunch. According to many to be the 1990s highest grossing football game (until later films), this comedy isn’t clever in a lot of ways but isn’t completely void of laughs either.

    The story is about Southern son of Kathy Bates’ momma’s boy Bobby Boucher Jr. (Sandler) who gets nothing but disrespect by the people he tries to help stay hydrated. After being on the job serving beverages to Coach Beaulieu (Jerry Reed) and team for 18 years, Bobby gets fired. Looking to keep doing what he’s good at, he finds Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), a coach who can’t find a way to get his team to accomplish anything. Initially, no one respects Bobby’s entrance but soon, they and Bobby discover that he has a knack for tackling others. With that, Bobby is recruited to play for the team as well, leading to unexpected results. For what was written, Tim Herlihy was competent in the construction of the story. All subplots are started and completed and the character develop is noticeable for certain individuals. Possibly the best message this movie sends to its audience is to always try and better yourself. It doesn’t exactly come out and say that but watching Bobby progress as a character speaks that in some respects.

    The other enjoyable aspect to the writing is watching how Bobby’s life begins to turn around. Initially Bobby doesn’t have any friends except his mom (Kathy Bates). But as time goes on, the respect and size of Bobby’s circle increases in diameter so much, it’s hard not to like the guy. This leads to the performances and comedy. For both, it’s half-and-half. Sandler as Bobby makes his character sound and act innocent (which is what makes him likable) but the way he goes about it is a slight bit obnoxious at points only because of how he talks. This involves a squealy voice that only can be made by the way Sandler shapes his mouth. Surely there could’ve been another way to make his role sound just as innocent without looking so obviously prepared. Seriously, nobody talks with their jaw in that position. But this is the least of silly comedy. Because the setting to this story takes place in the Southern States, a number of exaggerated stereotypes are used in order to make the viewers laugh. One example of this is making Bobby’s mom full on rural, no education, alligator barbecuing, the devil is everything wackjob.

    Really? There’s no problem portraying Southerners and accentuating their culture but there’s no reason to be going over-the-top ridiculous about it to the point of absurd and deranged. Another example of this is the character Blake Clark plays, which is being a deep voice mumbler who nobody understands. Who the heck cares about this character? He’s just wasting time. However there are other characters that make up for these overblown fabrications like Henry Winkler who’s goofy in his right and Jerry Reed (his last role) as the anti-football coach for being nothing but greedy. Fairuza Balk (best know for playing Dorothy from Return to Oz (1985) who plays Bobby’s love interest also has more of grounded personality than other Southern supporting characters. Even wrestler Paul Wight has a brief role that isn’t as superfluous as it could have been made out to be.

    There’s still a couple of things left to look at. Unfortunately the cinematography covered by Steven Bernstein isn’t much of anything significant. Much of the shots taken are very plain looking with nothing that really grabs its viewers’ attention. However, the football games are engaging but not because of the camerawork. This is based more on the how the game is played and how characters react and work together as a team. Even for the silly comedy that it is, the game still feels like there’s something riding on it that can’t be missed. Finally the music provided by Alan Pasqua (which is his last film composition thus far) worked when it needed to. There was no main theme or anything and much of his music was substituted for other well-known songs to help with the comedy. The only reason why his music is getting a pass is again going back to the football games. Although they were not intense and as engaging as the game, the tracks did help elevate the viewing experience.

    The story itself is written properly and the energetic football games are what this comedy really has to offer. The comedy works at times but the stereotyping and exaggerations do get overdone, especially when it comes to Southern culture. Thankfully, the main protagonist is portrayed in an innocent manner that allows it audience to at least like Adam Sandler’s performance.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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