The Waterboy

on November 06, 1998 by Christine James
   "I invented electricity! And Benjamin Franklin is the devil!," Mama Boucher (Kathy Bates), an overprotective Cajun mother who lives in a Louisiana bayou, informs her home-schooled son Bobby (Adam Sandler). As a result of such an education, Bobby has grown up to be a little dimwitted, but he's good-hearted and hard-working. His career of choice at which he toils so diligently is as the waterboy for a college football team. Going to such lengths as sterilizing the water and testing the pH levels are all part of a day's work for Bobby (who has been obsessed with his trade since childhood after being told that his father died of dehydration in the middle of the Sahara desert). Unfortunately, he does not receive much respect for his efforts, and is fired by the mean-spirited coach (Jerry Reed) for "distracting his players," who like to amuse themselves by beaning the hapless waterboy with the pigskin.
   Daunted but undeterred, Bobby seeks another waterboy position. He happens upon the kindly but mentally discombobulated Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), who heads a team with a staggering losing streak. Though the impoverished team can't afford a waterboy, Bobby, horrified upon noticing the barrel of stagnant water used to refresh the players, insists on providing his services free of charge. Even with this low-rent team, however, he's hassled, but Coach Klein encourages Bobby to fight back. Envisioning every person who had ever insulted him, Bobby tackles his tormentor with amazing force while squealing like a pig afire, and Coach Klein discovers the answer to his prayers.
   What follows is a frequently hilarious makeover/underdog-makes-good movie in which the slackerly football team, its drunken hosebag cheerleaders, the emotionally scarred Coach Klein and the socially awkward Bobby are winningly transformed--thanks in no small part to the support of the vampy Vicki Vallencourt (the always intriguing Fairuza Balk), a miscreant with a heart of gold who is inexplicably enamoured with Bobby, and in spite of Mama Boucher's efforts to keep her son from ever leaving their dilapidated shack in the swamp.
   The script, written by frequent collaborators Sandler and Tim Herlihy ("The Wedding Singer," "Happy Gilmore" and "Billy Madison"), is filled to overflowing with the baffling surrealism and wacky wit that are the hallmarks of Sandler's brand of comedy, and the cast plays along with hysterical straight-faced sincerity. Though unabashedly goofy, this comedy also boasts some subtly ingenious moments of mirth. Water you waiting for? For a wellspring of loony laughs, see "Waterboy." Starring Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler, Fairuza Balk and Jerry Reed. Directed by Frank Coraci. Written by Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler. Produced by Robert Simonds and Jack Giarraputo. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and some crude sexual humor. Running time: 90 min
Tags: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Directed by Frank Coraci, Written by Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler, Produced by Robert Simonds, Jack Giarraputo, A Buena Vista release, Comedy, swamp, football, waterboy

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