During a rare mild November morning in 1998, I was sitting at home doing what a good geek should do: reading comic books.
As I made my way through my latest pile of comics from New England Comics, my good friend Nick called. Oh no I thought to myself, he’s finally snapped and is calling to ask for bail money.
Thankfully, Nick wasn’t calling for money, he only to see if I wanted to join him and a few other friends for a double feature. The movies of the day were to be “Antz,” and “The Waterboy,” so I agreed to go, and met the group at Nick’s house. From there we headed to the Showcase Cinema in Randolph Ma. which was packed for a late weekday morning in November. Probably a bunch of kids skipping school.
Stay in school kids!
Anyways, our first movie was “The Waterboy” directed by Frank Coraci. The film starred Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Henry Winkler, Jerry Reed, Larry Gilliard, Jr., Blake Clark, Peter Dante, and Jonathan Loughran. Sandler stars as Bobby Boucher, a 31-year-old man who, soon after the film opens, is fired as the waterboy of a championship college football team. He then talks himself into a job with a team of losers, led by the insecure Coach Kline (Henry Winkler).
For me though, Kathy Bates stole the show as Bobby’s mother. Bates had the best scenes in the movie as the possessive and manipulative woman who has kept Bobby away from most of the world in their rural cabin. Mama Boucher and Bobby share the cabin with large animals, including a donkey named Steve. She often serves up giant swamp snakes and other creatures to their occasional guests like coach Klein and Fairuza Balk. I also love how everything she’s ever taught Bobby is followed by “It’s the devil!”
Also of note is Henry Winkler as the luckless Coach Klein. “The Waterboy” was the first time I saw Winkler as something other than the Fonzy, so it was funny to see him as someone who is insecure and scared of others. Winkler had me rolling with his Roy Orbison story and the flashback scenes with Jerry Reed (who was also good). Coach Klein was great comic relief, but I thought he had a lot of heart as well and gave Bobby the closest thing to a father he ever had.
As I sat in the theater, all I could think of was “I shouldn’t like this movie, but I actually do!” I mean, it’s not like “The Waterboy: is a cinematic masterpiece or anything. If I recall correctly, the movie got savaged by critics upon release. But that wasn’t new for an Adam Sandler project. Even today he gets brutal reviews, but today they seem warranted.
Maybe I liked “The Waterboy” because it’s a movie about football, or maybe it’s because we all have a little Bobby Boucher in us. And who doesn’t love a sports underdog study? Then again, maybe I liked this movie because of all the damn cameos from ESPN personalities, Lawrence Taylor, NFL coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson, and of course…
I didn’t know it at the time, but “The Waterboy” turned out to be the last Adam Sandler movie I liked. From here on in, nothing Sandler has done has matched his golden years of “Billy Madison, “Happy Gilmore,” and “The Waterboy.” Those movies worked because plots were kept simple, and the jokes came organically. But ever since, it seems like Sandler is more concerned with writing a joker and nor putting as much time into the plot.
Later that day my friends and I saw “Antz” which was well, what you would expect. But it still features the only Jennifer Lopez performance I like. Later on my buddies an I got kicked out of Pizzeria UNO’s. Not for anything, we did mind you, but because one of us (someone whose name rhymes with Mick) had on a shirt with a four-letter word printed on it. Ah well, at least I got one of my favorite football movies out of the day.