The Waterboy (Blu-ray)
Directed by Frank Coraci
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 89 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, others
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: July 28, 2009
Review Date: July 20, 2009
Adam Sandler’s march to the highest echelons of box-office draws began with a series of slight comic farces of which The Waterboy is possibly the slightest. Amiable to be sure and not without a few moments of charm, The Waterboy for the most part is unassumingly predictable and a bit disappointing. There is enough talent before and behind the camera for the film to have been much better than this final product. There are some laughs, but they are mostly formulaic and rather limp.
Socially and mentally inept Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) has taken years of abuse as the waterboy from the various football teams and coaching staff of the University of Louisiana and is inevitably fired by ruthless coach Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed). He offers his services to the SCLSU Mud Dogs, another Louisiana university, and head coach Klein (Henry Winkler) is desperate enough to allow him to work there (for no pay). Little does he realize, however, that within Bobby are the makings of a tremendous defensive tackle when he can harness his pent-up anger and frustration and focus it on the opposing team. Predictably, the ragtag football team with a 41-game losing streak begins its long journey to a year-end bowl game berth. But don’t tell Bobby’s smothering mother (Kathy Bates) who thinks “foosball” is a ridiculous waste of her beloved son’s time.
It’s hard to know where to point the most serious finger of blame for this middling comedy. Sandler co-wrote the script (with Tim Herlihy) and executive produced the movie as well as starred in it, and all three areas are virtually bankrupt of great originality or class. He plays Bobby as a near-moron (a 31-year old adult who doesn’t know his own mother’s name) in a tiresome nasally singsong voice and with vacuous blank expression; the film’s jokes are either mean-spirited or gross-outs (snake for dinner and grilled baby alligators for a cookout); and the movie looks cheap and thrown together with simple continuity problems that no one seems to care enough about to fix. Of course, the story comes down to that final play in the championship game that’s make or break for our gang of lovable losers, but the movie’s utter, unfunny conventionality has been evident long before we get to that expected conclusion. Director Frank Coraci allows unforgiveable mugging from much of the cast (Rob Schneider pops up in a couple of places to leer at the camera; Clint Howard’s only reason to be in the film is to mug shamefully into the lens; a running gag with Blake Clark spouting unintelligible Cajun is completely without laughs) though a couple of funny moments in some of the football games (opposing players begging not to be tackled by the ox-like Bobby) sometimes redeem the sports scenes.
Aside from Sandler’s non-performance, the acting in the film is up and down in quality and consistency. Kathy Bates is something of a letdown as Bobby’s bossy mother. She lets her Cajun accent come and go in an alarmingly sloppy performance that’s unworthy of her at her best. On the other hand, Fairuza Balk is sexy and fun as Bobby’s bad girl love interest, and Henry Winkler in the supporting role of desperate Coach Klein is far more appealing in small doses here than he ever was in the films he made as the leading man. Jerry Reed plays the film’s derivative villain cartoonishly.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Most of the film looks very good indeed with the interiors in the Boucher’s swamp home especially sharp and detailed. A few of the daytime scenes are overly bright which washes out the saturation of the color just a bit though for the most part, color is rich and flesh tones accurate. Some long shots lack the crispness and clarity found in the best high definition transfers. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track saves its small amount of surround envelopment for the climactic game sequences, and even there, the spaciousness of the sound is somewhat lacking. Otherwise, the mix is much more directed to the fronts with the rear channels neglected and with very little use of the LFE channel.
There are no bonus features at all on the disc, not even trailers for upcoming releases.
2.5/5 (not an average)
The Waterboy reminds one of some of Adam Sandler’s skits on Saturday Night Live extended past the breaking point. Though the mild farcical elements work from time to time (and the film was very popular in its initial release), the movie isn’t as good as it could have been with a more inventive comic actor and better, less predictable gags. Picture and sound are both well above average in this entry, but with no bonus features at all, a rental would seem to make the most sense for this title for all but its most ardent fans.
Edited by MattH. - 7/22/2009 at 03:33 am GMT