While my feelings on the film otherwise remain mixed, "The Waterboy" does deserve credit for the odd casting of Fairuza Balk as the romantic interest. Having the actress - probably most known for her darker characters ("The Craft") play the interest of actor Adam Sandler's dim-bulb character is inspired casting, and the two have a surprisingly nice chemistry together, despite the movie's crude nature.
The 1998 film stars Sandler as Bobby Boucher, a 31-year old who spends his time as the water boy for the Louisiana Cougars, whose coach - Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed) - doesn't like him and whose players frequently make fun of him. After getting dropped by the team, Bobby manages to get the same gig from Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), whose team has an incredibly long streak - of losing.
When Bobby's taunted by one of the players on the team, he literally flips out and tackles the player with brutal impact. The coach is thrilled and asks Bobby to join the team, although it goes against the wishes of his mama (Kathy Bates) - as does Bobby's interest in Vicki Vallencourt (Balk). Not surprisingly, the picture largely follows the underdog sports movie formula, with way-under underdog Bobby slowly but surely turning around the team.
The movie does manage to get some decent laughs, although this is Sandler's most purely low-brow feature, and it sticks entirely with one-liners and physical gags. The absurdity of some of the humor gets a chuckle, but the one-note nature of the physical humor can start to feel repetitive. Sandler's approach to the character can also seem repetitive, as well - while the character is well-meaning, Bobby can also start to become grating. More appealing is Balk as the romantic interest and Bates - who seems to be having a great deal of fun as Bobby's rather manipulative mother.
"The Waterboy" may remain one of Sandler's most popular films, but I'll still say it doesn't quite stand up to the comedian's early works. Still, the movie does manage a few mild laughs and offers a couple of fun performances (especially Bates, who is the highlight of the movie.)
VIDEO: "The Waterboy" is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) by Disney. While certainly not subpar, this transfer falls a little short of expectations. Sharpness and detail were mildly above-average in most scenes, but some shots/scenes could appear mildly soft. A few light instances of edge enhancement were also noted, but the picture mostly remained clean otherwise, with some slight print flaws being the only other issue of note. Colors generally looked fine, with pleasing saturation and no smearing or other faults. While this is an upgrade over the DVD presentation, the difference between the two editions is slighter than the norm.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 and the results match up with expectations reasonably well. As one might anticipate going in, the film's sound design remains rather primitive during the majority of the running time, with limited use of the surrounds beyond some mild ambience and occasional minor sound effects. Audio quality was satisfactory, with mild bass during some of the football sequences and clear, well-recorded dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: Nothing. Oddly, despite being one of the actor's most popular films, it still hasn't gotten any sort of Special Edition treatment - additionally, the production featurette included on the DVD is also missing here.
Final Thoughts: Although it's rather one-note and not Sandler's finest feature, "The Waterboy" does still get a few laughs a little over a decade later. The Blu-Ray edition offers satisfactory audio/video quality, but no extras. Fans who are looking to purchase will likely be fine with the DVD, which can be found for $9.99 at most stores.
The Film C+