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'Waterboy': Bayou Belly Laughs

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 1998

  Movie Critic

Adam Sandler plays a football waterboy who turns into the team's leading tackler. (Touchstone)

Frank Coraci
Adam Sandler;
Rob Schneider;
Fairuza Balk;
Kathy Bates;
Henry Winkler
Running Time:
1 hour, 42 minutes
For some language
"The Waterboy" is the Perrier of dumb-and-dumber movies, an effervescent idiot's delight that burbles from the wellspring of silliness inside star Adam Sandler's head. It's a cheerfully moronic tale populated by inbred, cross-eyed, bayou-born bubbas.

Sandler, who wrote the script with Tim Herlihy, brings a speech impediment, a victim's body language and a sweet naivete to the title role of Bobby Boucher (pronounced "Booshay"). Home-schooled and sheltered by his possessive mama (madcap Kathy Bates), the 31-year-old waterboy for the local college football team knows little of the world beyond his mother's eccentric swamp-side home.

He does, however, know his water: whether it's imported, bottled locally or from the tap. Alas, his attention to composition, temperature and other properties win him no respect from the college football players who bully him with their coach's encouragement.

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When Bobby transfers to another school he encounters the same situation on a new team, the Mud Dogs, but the coach (huggable Henry Winkler) urges Bobby to stand up for himself. Suddenly free to release all his pent-up fury and frustration, the waterboy turns into the team's most formidable tackle. The sports world is soon teeming with news of Bobby's success, the dog-suited mascot stops drinking, and the wretched Mud Dogs seem bowlward bound.

Bobby is destined to meet up with his old adversaries, but he must first break his mama's apron strings. But Mama, like the gators she loves to barbecue, is no pushover, and she don't want her baby playing dat "foozball" ever again. Can Bobby change Mama's mind before the kickoff? Will he have to pop a top on a can of Louisiana whup-up? Or whut?

Plot doesn't matter in doofus comedies. It's how you scatter the banana peels and when to loose the loogies. Frank Coraci, who directed Sandler in "The Wedding Singer," has the knack for blending cartoonishness with character, but his greatest gift may be knowing when to quit. "The Waterboy" never has time to wear out his welcome.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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