'The Waterboy' carries its pail of laughs cheerily

November 06, 1998|By Chris Kridler | Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF

"The Waterboy" attains the level of most of Adam Sandler's movies, which is to say, not very high. But that will be enough if audiences check their brains at the door to enjoy this amiable, silly and human story of a mama-smothered young man and his rise to fame and acceptance.

Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a social misfit whose one mission is to provide good water to the college football team he works for in the Louisiana bayou. He's a relentless perfectionist, boiling the stuff to guarantee its purity, even offering spring water as an alternative. Of course, the team abuses him mercilessly, prompting nasty coach Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed) to fire him.

It seems his only friend is his oppressive mama (Kathy Bates), who's always cooking up some kind of swamp thing, but then he finds a job with a team whose coach (an irrepressively winsome Henry Winkler) is still recovering from a nervous breakdown. Given permission to defend himself, the water boy lets out years of frustration in a flying tackle on an abusive football player.

Naturally, he becomes the Mud Dogs' one great hope as he enrolls in college, tries to figure out the womanly wiles of an amorous vixen (Fairuza Balk), makes friends and conceals it all from mama. When she finds out (as indeed she must), will he be able to live his new life and lead the team to victory over the hated Red Beaulieu?

What do you think?

It's always obvious where the story's going, but it's funny nonetheless.

And Sandler imbues his goofy and pathetic character with a sweet vulnerability that helps temper the movie's crass jokes. "The Waterboy" is a bubbly diversion -- just don't expect it to quench your thirst for meaning.

'The Waterboy'

Starring Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler

Directed by Frank Coraci

Released by Touchstone Pictures

Rated PG-13 (language, crude sexual humor)

Running time 86 minutes

Sun score ** 1/2 stars

Pub Date: 11/06/98

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