Welcome to the latest installment my completely biased sports movie rankings. He’s not way up the list but the college football genre would not be complete without The Waterboy. It’s not a perfect movie and it definitely wasn’t burdened with actors who could be described as athletic, but since most of the sports scenes were simply Bobby Boucher mutilating people while making that strange noise, it really didn’t matter.
But first, and only because my mind often wandered the last couple of weeks:
RANDOM MOVIE/TV THOUGHTS AND SOME FAVORITE BUT NOT NECESSARILY SPORTS LINES WHICH POPPED INTO MY HEAD THIS WEEK
Top Gun: Maverick - I loved this film so much, I almost put it on the Top 50 list just because two-way football, people. I told friends after an iMax viewing, it may have been the finest theater experience of my life. I still feel that way and I’m guessing five - FIVE - Oscar nominations - Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay (adapted from what, isn’t it an original?), Film Editing, Sound, Visual Effects, Original Song (somehow not for cinematography??) - mean others feel similarly. It’s a long shot to take home the top prize, but I’m taking the overs on 1.5 golden statues going home with Maverick.
Justified (Hulu) - Art Mullen - Justified is simply one of my favorite series of all time. Here, Marshall Art Mullen takes a moment to beg a little respect from his deputies for the fugitive they’re pursuing. - “He shoots Theo Tonin, fakes his own death in spectacular fashion, pushes a guy out of an airplane while he’s flying it, parachutes into Harlan County with enough coke and cash to jump start the economy of a small country, and then he has the balls to get a job in law enforcement, not once but two times! He spends a couple days riding around with you while you’re looking for him, and now he’s run off with a hooker half his age. That’s some bad ass shit.”
Wednesday (Netflix) - Admittedly, I just wanted to check out one episode of this Addams Family spinoff out of nostalgia, but, when in the first scene Wednesday unleashes a bloody piranha attack on the swim team bullies who harassed Pugsley thus getting herself expelled again, I stuck around for more. Not to worry, the chief bully only lost a testicle and her parents got her out of an attempted murder charge. But she is sent to Nevermore Academy where…
Enid: Admit it! You kinda got into the whole school spirit thing.
Wednesday Addams: You didn’t tell me it’s a dark, vengeful spirit.
Slap Shot - Reg Dunlop (Paul Newman) - If you suspect Slap Shot will be appearing on this list later, you suspect correctly. This is one of the opponent’s PA introductions in the final game and they’re all magical-
“And from Mile 40, Saskatchewan, where he now runs a donut shop, #10, former penalty minute record holder for the years 1960 to 1968 inclusive, Gilmore Tuttle.”
(Shout out to my good friend Kim for kicking off a 25 Days of Slap Shot celebration which can still be found on my Facebook page. It might have ended up closer to 30.)
Mayor of Kingstown (Paramount+) - I can’t recommend this enough and am trying to hold out until the entire second season is available to binge. I’m not gonna make it. Jeremy Renner kills it in a very tense show about a city who’s chief business is the multiple maximum security prisons located there.
When Harry Met Sally - Woman at Bar - This was a huge relief laugh in the theater because previous to that every guy was staring at the screen with his mouth hanging open while Meg Ryan….did her thing.
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
#40 - THE WATERBOY
“Hey. Here comes the shithead.”
And with that grand introduction, Bobby Boucher, water distribution engineer for the U of Louisiana Cougars, makes his entrance on the silver screen. For about a minute anyway as he is quickly fired by Coach Red Beaulieu played by Jerry Reed. After that, it’s off to his home in Cajun bayou country to spend time with his momma who dispenses pearls of wisdom such as “Little girls are THE DEVIL!!”
At night he tunes into a call-in wrestling show where Paul Wight as Captain Insano is most discourteous to him:
But despite being scorned by the Cougars, Bobby is not dissuaded and offers his waterboy services to the downtrodden South Central Louisiana State Mud Dogs and Mr. Coach Klein played by Henry Winkler. Bobby sets up for his first practice and it quickly becomes clear the Mud Dogs are every bit the abusive, bullying assholes the Cougars were. They tackle him into a water table and spit into his water jug. But when QB Gee Grenouille makes fun of him one last time, Bobby finally snaps.
As Asst. Coach Farmer Fran says: “DISGILLYOOGOO!!”
After Bobby opens a can of whoop-ass, Mr. Coach Klein begs him to join the team, and heads over to the Boucher swamp shack for a snake knee dinner with bug-zapper squirrel for dessert. After he fails to get momma’s blessing to play, Bobby decides to do the right thing - play da’ foosball and lie to Momma.
At his first practice, Bobby discovers he’s far too sweet to just up and tackle people. However, Coach Klein suggests visualizing people who made him angry. He tries the psychology route and promptly shitmixes the kicker - the only person on the team being nice to him, good choice - after picturing Coach Beaulieu’s head on him calling Bobby stu-stu-stupid and he’s ready for a little foosball.
After coming off the edge in a class to tackle a professor who disagreed with Bobby’s momma’s teachings, Game One is here and the cheerleaders and mascot are blackout drunk before kickoff. The Mud Dog offense is still hapless but Bobby is unleashing psychotic vengeance on Western Mississippi (they love their directional schools in The Waterboy). Tied 7-7, one of the WM players suggests he will be enjoying Bobby’s momma that evening, so Bobby picks off the pass, gives it to that player and dropkicks him in the end zone - after he scores the winning touchdown.
So yeah, he doesn’t make too many new friends that day.
I feel this is perfect time to point out the noise Bobby makes as he zeroes in on tackles is one of the greatest things ever put on screen. As I was rewatching this, I still snickered and giggled every time he did it. I’m not kidding. It’s friggin’ amazing. I tried a couple times to type the sound out but I couldn’t. And if I was playing football and heard that deranged squealing coming up on me, especially if he had been arguing with and punching himself in the head before the snap, I’d be 100% f*cking terrified.
Anyway, we’ll skip over the romance and more disgusting food and disapproval at Momma’s. (I swear the meals at the Boucher house make me never want to eat.) After another loss or two, the Mud Dogs’ fortunes finally turn. Following more pre-snap terrorism fueled by Bobby’s psychotic visions (“Please don’t hurt me,” begs the opposing QB), Bobby safeties him to break SCLSU’s 41(?) game losing streak and it’s time for a winning streak montage which includes victories of 6-3 over Clemson and 5-0 over Louisville.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the deleted scene where Big 10 officials see those scores and offer the Mud Dogs $10,000,000 to join the conference the very next week.
Then it’s time for one of the greatest moments in Unintentional Comedy history: LT’s Louisiana Lightning Football Camp. That’s right - it’s Lawrence Taylor running a youth camp with Bobby Boucher as his guest. After Bobby unleashes some Cajun baby-voiced gibberish, LT listens thoughtfully and responds, “Gentlemen, which brings me to my next point. Don’t smoke crack.” Enjoy it here.
You may be asking - why is this such unintentional comedy? Consider:
October 19, 1998 - Lawrence Taylor arrested for trying to buy $50 worth of crack from an undercover officer.
November 6, 1998 - The Waterboy opens in theaters and Lawrence Taylor pleads with kids to not smoke crack.
Yep, less than three weeks before the theatrical release of a movie in which he had a cameo, LT did that. Every sports fan in the theater freaked out from gasping to “WTF?” to just crazed laughter followed by a volley of whispering as guys had to explain what was going on to confused wives and girlfriends who didn’t think LT’s line was THAT funny.
Following LT’s camp and an aborted attempt at sex with Vicky Valencourt, the Mud Dogs find themselves needing a win to clinch a spot in the Bourbon Bowl. Their opponent? Yup, the Iowa Hawkeyes. And in the most realistic scene of the movie, they find themselves tied 3-3 late in the fourth quarter.
And in true Iowa fashion…
And if you think I hate Iowa so much I even enjoy watching them lose fictionally, you’d be correct.
This is followed by probably my favorite scene in the movie of the Michigan towel boy being slaughtered on a crossing route. And for me the best part is the Purdue strong safety walking up at the end and wagging his finger at the unconscious chap like “not up in this house with that shit, motherfu-”
So anyway, the Mud Dogs are qualified for the Bourbon Bowl and decide to have a weird pep rally somewhere deep in a swampy bayou. It’s looks like it would be difficult to drive a Smart Car into that crap, let alone the full blown tour bus with which Red Beaulieu and the entire Louisiana Cougar team have decided to roll in, but here they are.
The next several minutes include:
- Vicky threatening to slit the throat of the bald, 38-year-old Cougar defensive tackle.
- Red ordering the local sheriff to take her away.
- Red informing Bobby he got the NCAA to declare him ineligible since he didn’t graduate high school.
- Coach Kleine saying Bobby just has to pass his GED.
- Bobby letting Mama know he’s playin’ da’ foosball.
- Coach Klein telling the story about how Red scared him into giving up his playbook.
- Vicky getting out of jail (I missed the specifics)
- Bobby passing the GED.
- Mama faking a heart attack or something, so Bobby vows to stay by her side & moves all the contents of her home to her room including the donkey.
Anyway, y’all get the picture. As funny as that looks on paper, this, along with the “Waterboy come back” rally and Momma’s confession it was all a ruse, is the slowest part of the movie. It’s about twenty minutes long and should’ve been wrapped up in five.
Regardless, it’s Bourbon Bowl time and the Mud Dogs are being thoroughly stomped in the first half while Momma drives Bobby to the game in an airboat. Can an airboat be pulled up to a stadium? If we’ve learned anything, it really doesn’t matter.
So the second half begins and check the previous paragraph - Dan Fouts informs Musburger she drove him right INTO the stadium in the airboat. But anyway, it’s time to open up a can of whoop-ass. And because Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is playing, I get pumped up for a bit. Bobby immediately returns to being a instrument of destruction obliterating everything in his path.
However, it’s still the same offense which could only score three on Iowa, so with a 27-7 lead midway through the third, Red decides to take a knee for the rest of the game and dare the Mud Dogs to score. Fortunately, Bobby chooses that moment to show Mr. Coach Klein how to regain his courage and rediscover his inner Joe Brady/Lincoln Riley. A double reverse and downfield lateral later, it’s 27-14.
Performing Bobby’s waterboy duties, Vicky tells Lynn Swann the final will be Mud Dogs 30-27. When Swanny asks where she came up with that guess? He gets the neck-slitting eyes.
Coach Red tries putting his DT at fullback a la the Bears and Fridge Perry and Bobby greets him with a “Powerbomb, complements of Captain Insane-O”. Add a field goal and it’s 27-17. Shortly thereafter with time ticking down, they line up for another field goal, but run a fake reverse sweep with Bobby as lead blocker for a TD and a 27-24 score with :14 left. I really should save the last clip for the winning play, but what kind of goddamned human being am I if “Oh yeah. There’s my bitch,” isn’t given it’s moment here in the sun?
After recovering the onside kick, Bobby is given a Grade 12 concussion on a cheap shot, but it’s only 1998 and not the NFL, so Vicky pours the magical Alaskan Eskimo glacier water down his comatose throat. He flips to his feet like The Rock and we’ve got seven seconds to bring it home. After all, as Dan Fouts said, he just needed water. And after the 5,373,234th snide comment of Musburger’s life, Dan says what we’ve all been yelling at assorted TV’s for decades:
Normally, in Hail Mary situations, you just try your best to set up an overload in the end zone and get a tipped ball against a deep prevent defense or maybe hope to get lucky with the Boise State downfield cross pitch. However, since this is a movie, the defense will be playing up. They will even cover the motion man. Mr. Coach Klein knows this, so he calls a Halfback Option QB Throwback pass with Bobby at halfback. Has he ever even thrown a football in his life?
Doubtful but of course he throws a Steve Sabol NFL Films spiral to QB Gee who is in the end zone with no defenders in the picture. A 3-2-6 deep prevent would have basically been the defense looking on quizzically at these weird goings on before 3-4 guys covered the QB, but this a just a quibble.
There’s a celebration and a wedding and Bobby’s weird dad, but this is where I would’ve dropped the curtain. Well done, Bobby Boucher, well done. Onto the category rankings:
Quality of Sports Scenes: The less said here the better. However, it gets knocked up a little because watching Bobby terrorize people is funny. Score - ** - Solich
Music: Mostly, I pictured guys with beards down to their shirtless bellies playing washboards and forks while gators roasted on spit and donkeys brayed. But they did play some satisfying sports scene stuff in the final game. Score - ** - Solich
Love Interest: This is probably dependent on how much you like the crazy as well as Fairuza Balk’s unique look. If I’m honest, I usually wade into the crazy, reap its amazing benefits, then walk away scarred later. Don’t you judge me. Score - ***1/2 - Pelini
Adrenalin/Goosebump Scenes: Welp, it’s a comedy. And while the music tries to bring the big finish home, what’s actually happening on the field can’t be ignored. Score - *1/2 - Frost
Comedy: Here we go. It’s silly as shit, goes for every cheap laugh it can find and even Fouts, Musburger, Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson get in on the fun. Bonus points to Balk and Blake Clark as the gibberish-spewing, nipple-ring flicking Coach Fran for striving to take things to another level. Score - ****1/2 - Devaney
Unintentional Comedy: Lawrence Taylor - thank you for your sacrifice. Sincerely, all of us. Score - **** - Devaney
The Training Montage: They tried a couple and hit a few jokes, but they mostly dragged. No penalty points since it’s not really expected from a comedy, but what’s there wasn’t great. Score -*1/2 - Frost
Rewatchability - Stellar. There’s very few places where one can’t hop right in and start enjoying. Got a few people around and looking for a sports movie most everyone can agree will be good for some laughs? Easy solution. Score - **** - Devaney
OVERALL - The Waterboy basically does everything it tried to do. Let Adam Sandler do his thing, get a few big laughs and a plate full of little ones and just let everyone kick back for good time. Also, a 1⁄2 point bonus for telling Brent to shut up. - Score - ***1/2 - Pelini
#50 - THE MIGHTY DUCKS
#49 - AMERICAN FLYERS
#48 - WIND
#47 - THE NATURAL
#46 - BLOODSPORT
#45 - YOUNGBLOOD
#44 - THE REPLACEMENTS
#42 - KINGPIN
#41 - RUSH