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Blu-ray Review: The Waterboy

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Sometimes looking at a new release slate for Blu-rays, one gets the distinct impression that all the good movies have already arrived in the high definition format. I can't believe that's the case — most people can probably tick off two or three dozen films they are waiting to see released to Blu-ray. And yet, before some favorites arrive on Blu-ray we get treated to half-baked fare like Adam Sandler's The Waterboy.

Sandler, most definitely a funny man and an actor who has shown some range in recent years, is not at his best in this Frank Coraci (Click) directed comedy. In the picture, Sandler stars as Bobby Boucher, a man who grew up in backwoods Louisiana. Boucher's only dream in life – his only ambition – is to be a waterboy for a college football team. It's actually a dream that he's already fulfilled at the start of the film, but his hopes are dashed when the coach of the University of Louisiana's football team, Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed), fires him for distracting the players.

Bobby manages to land a gig, though at a far less prestigious school with a far less prestigious football team run by the far less prestigious Coach Klein (Henry Winkler). Predictably – and the whole thing really is quite predictable – Klein uncovers Bobby's incredible ability to tackle and Bobby ends up leading the hapless team to many victories only to be forced to face Beaulieu and his old squad in the championship game.

Much of the film is spent showing – but never really dissecting or exploring – the uncomfortable relationship Bobby has with his mother, played by a terribly miscast Kathy Bates. Mama Boucher doesn't like Bobby doing anything which might lead to Bobby's deserting her as she was deserted by her husband many a year ago. She does everything from refusing to let Bobby play football – he lies to her and does it anyway – to not letting Bobby date the girl of his dreams, Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk) – he lies to her and does it anyway… again.

The entire film plays out like an incredibly unfunny Mommy Dearest-type scenario played for laughs mashed up with the football stuff from Forrest Gump. Sandler appears to be coasting through the part, making Bobby a simple combination of characters that he already had in his repertoire. It gives the movie the same unfunny feel of any number of films based on Saturday Night Live sketches (even if Lorne Michaels' name is absent from the credits).

Actually, the entire film could be considered highly offensive to Cajuns and college football players… if it weren't so incredibly laughable (but hardly ever in a funny way). The film takes stereotypes to the extreme in almost every single character portrayed and never aims for three-dimensionality when it can substitute a flat joke for an attempt at depth.

The entire 90 minute runtime of the film unspools quickly enough and never really allow one to get bored. Fans of Sandler and his comedy will find enjoyable moments, but everyone else will just walk away from the film wishing that they had opted for Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison instead.

The Blu-ray release is as unspectacular as the film itself, displaying as far too grainy and with several scenes containing noticeable dirt and/or noise. Some of the colors do pop quite well, but never deliver that "wow" factor. The sound however does manage a few "wows" here and there, mainly with the various effects (which tend to be football-related). Every time an effect plays out, it appears noticeably louder than the dialogue track and with far more bass than one would think it should contain.

As for extras, The Waterboy contains… nothing, not a trailer nor an outtake reel, not a blooper nor a deleted scene. Much like the script and the characters, it is a wholly barebones affair, and one that makes you wonder why movies you really want to see haven't yet gotten the Blu-ray treatment.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.