TBT: The Waterboy (1998)

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To round up August TBTs I really would like to review a football movie in light of the upcoming season that has somehow invited itself upon our doorstep. Yes, the end of August, for me anyway, is quite exciting for reasons beyond upcoming movie releases. This weekend, my Tennessee Vols (Shout Out!) #GBO #YOVO (“You’re Only a Vol Once”) shall play their season opener, wherein we will probably be whooping some ass, seeing as though the first game is always a one-sided affair to give the host an extra boost of confidence and maximize the crowd’s enjoyment to kick things off. So, with the beginning of the fall sports season occupying about as much space in my mind from here on out as the movies will be, I figured this would be a good theme for this week. Of course, this particular film selection is sillier than all Hell, but it still qualifies for one of my more memorable football/sports films to date. And, in a way, this will be a throwback to the glory days of Adam Sandler’s career, before he became (or tried to become) more serious, more mature and clearly, less creative. R.I.P. Good Adam Sandler. 

Today’s food for thought: The Waterboy.


Release: November 6, 1998


Bobby Boucher (Sandler) may not have much going on inside his head, but he does serve one very important purpose, and my, how passionate he is about that purpose: providing his football team the necessary water they need to stay hydrated. Getting constantly heckled and made fun of doesn’t really bother Bobby much (at least he doesn’t show it at first), and it sure doesn’t bother head coach Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed) until one day he decides to make an example out of Bobby and unceremoniously relieve him of his duties at the fictionalized University of Louisiana, citing him as “a distraction to his players.”

When Bobby is then picked up later as a waterboy for an in-state rival team, the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs, the head coach, Coach Klein (played by none other than “The Fonz”) notices the new-hire to harbor a particular talent that could be more useful on the field than off of it. He soon convinces Bobby to start playing for his team, seeing in him a potential for getting his coaching mojo back since his genius playbook was stolen by his sworn enemy, Beaulieu some years back.

Klein discovers an incredible tackler in Bobby Boucher, the awkward albeit friendly simpleton who has been sheltered all his life by his overbearing mother (Kathy Bates). Klein encourages the kid to take out his frustrations on the field, and channel all that energy into being the best tackler he can be. And because Henry Winkler is. . . .well, Henry Winkler, a really strong and memorably bond is formed between this coach who’s lately been unsure of his coaching skills and the newest member of the team.


“Hmm….how to take down an entire offensive line of Fonz’s. . . ?”

Of course, this is an Adam Sandler flick. An early one, but still a Sandler flick. That means this film is more formulaic than Baby Gerber’s. Bobby gets booted from one team only to join another, finds a special talent, hones it while at the same time proving to his teammates he belongs after they initially reject him, and he goes on to become the team’s hero. Why, of course this movie is going to be unrelentingly dumb. It’s going to be predictable from the beginning. Yet, the core of the entertainment usually lies within Sandler’s colorful characters, and his Bobby Boucher is no exception. He’s a special kind of Southerner, one with a small brain but a big heart. And all the while he’s poking fun of the over-juiced jock/football player. You can’t exactly call this genius work, but there’s no way you can deny him the creative bit.

Another Sandler custom is that one can always be sure to be introduced to a few similarly-ridiculous characters that somehow make Sandler’s character more likely to fit in, if given the right moment. Case in point, there’s the usual cast of friends to work beside Sandler and provide for him the typical goofy, puerile atmosphere. He enlisted the help of Jonathan Loughran (Sandler’s personal assistant on every set); Peter Dante; Allen Covert; Rob Schneider; and some others to bring that familiar Sandler circus to the sidelines. As is also customary in a Sandler flick, there’s likely to be a few stand-out cameos as well. This time, he convinced sports commentators Jimmy Johnson, Brent Musberger, and Dan Patrick to get in on the action and they apparently seem to embrace his school of humor as they each deliver one-liners that are more often than not hilarious.

Sandler does make it easy to rail against his films, but The Waterboy will forever be one of his best efforts. It is unapologetically stupid and impressively redneck, yes that’s true. But it is a fan-boatload of fun. How can anyone hate someone who commutes to and from his job via lawn mower? This is a guy who makes John Deere look like a legitimate lifestyle! As the water boy slowly makes a name for himself, he finds a girl to stand beside him (Vicki Vallencourt — this movie features some classy names, by the way), and eventually the entire community that is South Central Louisiana has the water boy’s back as he takes the team to a title game against the dreaded Beaulieu and the Cougars. Again, it’s the rise to fame that you’ve seen depicted a million zillion times before, but nonetheless it’s about as endearing as Sandler has or ever will be.

How the times have changed.

3-0Recommendation: Any fan of Sandler’s has already bought a copy of this and has watched it to death. If you haven’t already seen this you’re likely to never get to it, which is quite alright. It would seem the ‘Recommendation’ section has never felt more redundant. The movie features Adam Sandler at his most idiotic, but hey — I’ll take this over his recent fumbling attempts to be more family-oriented. (How Grown Ups is meant to portray adult life in the mind of Adam Sandler is beyond me.) In my eyes, you don’t really get much more vintage Sandler than The Waterboy. Filled with stupidity, the movie is also somewhat sweet; plus, it makes a redneck bon mot out of the sport of football, making the SEC look even better than it already is. And, of course, in the spirit of the season, LET’S GO VOLS!!!!

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 90 mins.


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22 thoughts on “TBT: The Waterboy (1998)

  1. Pingback: Top That: Ten Actors Who Clearly Love their Job | digitalshortbread

  2. Tom I know it is popular to hate on Sandler, but this film is funny as were a few of his early efforts. Only after his failed dramatic career did we become regularly subjected to his cashing a paycheck lame films. Nice write up, and I can’t wait for football to start up tonight.


    • thanks Adam, yeah I actually thoroughly enjoyed early Sandler movies. Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, this and certainly a few others are some of my favorite comedies. personally i think i’d still be a moderately big fan of his if he just reverted back to this style of comedy now. I don’t think That’s My Boy counts, as I heard that film was utterly tasteless. his old comedies actually had heart which it sounded like something that recent “comedy” had failed to include.


    • haha yeah its classic Sandler schtick for sure. before he went into quote-unquote bad Adam Sandler flicks. to someone who isn’t a fan of his work, there’s prob not much distinction between the two hahah. to me, these movies were always just plain, simple fun. he poked fun of some pretty great things (in this case, football) and it worked for awhile. don’t know what happened to him. but i can totally understand why people don’t like him from the outset. he’s a bit of a spaz


    • “You’re gonn’ lose all your fancy foos-balls games Bobby, and you’re gonn’ fail your big exams, because school and foosball are the devil!!!!” lol every time she said stuff like that I died laughing. i agree, she was so good. 😀 a great movie from back in the day.


  3. I loved The Waterboy, really. For all its absurdity and how ridiculous it was, it was a fun movie, that’s all it needed to be, and was plenty entertaining. Sheesh, I have not seen in in years, awesome review!


    • the bare minimum we ever need from a film is a general good-time at the movies, and i thought we used to get that pretty decently in old Sandler flicks. i miss those days. thanks for commenting zoe. 🙂


  4. I’ll admit, I enjoyed this a bit when I first saw it forever ago, but with my hatred for Sandler these days, I’m not sure I could watch it again without wanting to burn everything around me. Including the water.


    • hahah, watch out man — that’s some high quality H2-oh you’re about to set ablaze!!! i feel ya though, his post 2005ish movies have been consistently painfully horrible. hence, the throwback nature of even including an adam sandler post — clearly we’ll not be seeing his better half again. posting this made me nostalgic. . . . . . lol


  5. “Coach, not only will I do it for you, I… I… I… yes, yes, I’ll do it for you.” Haha love this movie.

    It’s one of those movies where you watch it and think, “What the hell happened to Adam Sandler?” To think that this guy regularly made good movies at one point in his career is shocking to even think about!


    • Indeed it really is. I think what’s more impressive is how quickly he went into a slump with crappy film after crappy film. A once-great comedian has fallen to some pretty low levels and this makes me sad. It totally was part of the reason why I had to make this post; just to recall what those days were like when Sandler made quality comedies, even if they weren’t still an all-around “quality” film. . . .


      • Good point. A lot of his earlier movies do have flaws, but the fact that Sandler was so easy to like back then made it easy to ignore them. It’s one of those cases where the actor alone was worth the price of admission, and now it’s like, “UGH! Adam Sandler!” Haha.


  6. best adam sandler movie along with his other 2 classics, happy gilmore and billy madison. henry winkler was the icing on the cake for this movie. just watched your clip of the best of coach klein. lmao!


    • I agree dude, Henry Winkler was phenomenal in this movie. hahaha just had to include that video clip, it’s so good. thanks for reading


  7. LOL – great post!

    AND – FOOTBALL!!!!

    I’m an OU guy – Sooner Born and Sooner Bred (my mom actually went in to labor watching that OU / Nebraska game in ’71 – yeah I’m old). I love it now, in the mornings, it feels so great outside, it feels like… FOOTBALL!

    I like Tennessee – never had a problem with them, go Vols : )


    • that’s cool man haahah yeah Tennessee is another kettle of fish for sure. prideful. loud. obnoxious. and then, when we lose. . . . i’m telling ya, the hangover that comes with a loss here in knoxville is worse than chugging a bottle of Kumchatka vodka. i think that’s like a $8 fifth of liquor. we have the losing attitude of a $8 bottle of liquor lol.

      I don’t expect much from us this year since we’re going with yet another coach, i think Butch Jones will be the fourth coach in five years or so. lots of learning ahead. we shall see. good to see another football fan in the mix here!


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