The Waterboy

 
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Release date: Nov. 6, 1998

Directed by: Frank Coraci

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Henry Winkler

Budget: $23 million

Box office: $186 million

A college football team’s waterboy discovers a talent for tackling and becomes a member of the team.

The Waterboy is another film where Sandler turns into the goofy everyman he’s become known for, the only difference being this time he’s a manchild from the swamps of Louisiana who’s given the chance to play some football. There isn’t a whole lot of new ground the film covers, though where it lacks in originality it makes up for it by being strange and bizarre in most of the right ways, such as Bobby’s home being a hillbilly hodgepodge where, among other oddities, a horse drinks out of the toilet. However, some of the quirkiness doesn’t quite fit like the cheerleaders being alcoholics. It’s used as a cheap laugh and doesn’t really go anywhere.

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Its characters are also pretty strange and used well for the most part. Bobby’s mother is a near perfect representation of a mother trying to hold on to her son whatever the cost may be and gets some interesting character development. Nevertheless, there are some problems, mainly with how soon Bobby’s successes come. He’s supposed to be a lovable doofus who overcomes the odds. Yet, he starts overcoming them so soon it’s hard to sympathise about where he came from. Further, Vicki’s character feels incomplete, coming off as if the writers decided cheerful psychopath with little to no redeeming qualities was a good idea for Bobby’s love interest.

Still, it’s easy to see the actors having fun with their roles, especially Bates playing right into her type of deranged woman. She chews the scenery of her bayou home in nearly every scene she’s in and it never gets old. At the same time, Winkler can be seen really getting into his role, constantly muttering to himself and performing various strange acts as a man who never quite recovered from a huge upset.

The jokes succeed pretty consistently too with the occasional bad landing or missed opportunity, such as hardly anything ever being done with the alcoholic cheerleaders. The running gags of whatever Bobby and his mother have to eat or the latter calling everything “the devil” are evenly spaced enough and never seem overused. The visions various characters have when focusing are not only some of the funniest parts of the entire film, but they’re the most quotable.

It’s a solidly decent film carried mainly by its weirdness. It may not be the best comedy or Sandler film and might not be for everyone, but it certainly has its place.

Awards

Won

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Actor - Comedy (Adam Sandler)

  • Favorite Supporting Actress - Comedy (Kathy Bates)

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award

Kids’ Choice Awards, USA - Blimp Awards

  • Favorite Movie Actor (Adam Sandler)

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Comedic Performance (Adam Sandler)

The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards

  • Most Annoying Fake Accent (Adam Sandler)

Nominated

Blockbuster Entertainment Award

  • Favorite Supporting Actor - Comedy (Henry Winkler)

Kids’ Choice Awards, USA - Blimp Awards

  • Favorite Movie

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Male Performance (Adam Sandler)

Razzie Awards

  • Worst Actor (Adam Sandler)

Teen Choice Awards

  • Film - Choice Comedy

  • Film - Most Disgusting Scene (Coach Klein dines on dishes like alligator eyes and snake heads)