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The Waterboy Reviews

Good and dumb, in equal measure. Adam Sandler and co-writer Tim Herlihy recycle the best bits from their hit-and-miss successes (HAPPY GILMORE, BILLY MADISON), rehire the director of Sandler's best movie to date (THE WEDDING SINGER), and wind up with something that actually works in its own sweet, knuckleheaded way. Simple of mind but pure of heart, 31-year-old Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) has faithfully served as Water Distribution Engineer (read: waterboy) for the University of Louisiana's football team since he was a kid, enduring the abuse of his teammates while bravely waging a war against dehydration. When he's suddenly fired, Bobby finds himself pouring for the considerably less prestigious SCLSU Mud Dogs, a piss-poor losing team with a neurotic coach (Henry Winkler), a mush-mouthed Cajun assistant coach (Blake Clark) and a bevy of drunken cheerleaders. But in Bobby, the Mud Dogs have secret weapon: When riled -- a crack about the quality of his water or his crazed, overbearing Mama (Kathy Bates) will usually do the trick -- the mild-mannered waterboy is transformed into an unstoppable tackling machine, and the team suddenly has a chance of breaking a 40-game losing streak and going all the way to the Bourbon Bowl. Sandler and Herlihy have basically taken Sandler's SNL "Cajun Man" character -- his usual half-wit shtick with a thick bayou drawl -- and written him into a gentler version of HAPPY GILMORE. Much of the humor is of the hit-in-the-head-with-a-football variety, but it's dopey, harmless fun (unless, perhaps, you're Cajun), packed with silly sentiment and an entertaining supporting cast: No one does deranged quite like Kathy Bates (the film's running gag involving Bates and the delicacies of Cajun cuisine is hilarious), and Fairuza Balk, as Bobby's knife-wielding juvenile delinquent love interest, is a refreshing change from what usually passes for cool.