The Waterboy

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The Waterboy
Directed by Frank Coraci
Produced by
Written by Tim Herlihy
Adam Sandler
Music by Alan Pasqua
Cinematography Steven Bernstein
Edited by Tom Lewis
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • November 6, 1998 (1998-11-06)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $23,000,000
Box office $185,991,646

The Waterboy is a 1998 American sports/comedy film directed by Frank Coraci (who played Robert 'Roberto' Boucher, Sr.), starring Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Henry Winkler, Jerry Reed (his last film role before his death in 2008), Larry Gilliard, Jr., Blake Clark, Peter Dante and Jonathan Loughran, and produced by Robert Simonds and Jack Giarraputo.

Lynn Swann, Lawrence Taylor, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Paul Wight and Rob Schneider have cameo appearances. The movie was extremely profitable, earning $161.5 million in North America alone.[1] This was Sandler's second film to eclipse $120 million worldwide in 1998 along with The Wedding Singer.[1]

Adam Sandler's character, Bobby Boucher (pronounced /bˈʃ/ boo-SHAY), bears a strong resemblance to his "The Excited Southerner" comedic skits from his album What the Hell Happened to Me? The portrayal is one of a stereotypical Cajun from the bayous of South Louisiana, not the typical stereotype of a Southerner. He also shares similarities in speech and mannerism to Canteen Boy, a recurring character, also portrayed by Adam Sandler, on Saturday Night Live.[2] Like Bobby, Canteen Boy preferred "purified water, right out of the old canteen", which he always carried with him.


Bobby Boucher is a socially inept, stuttering water boy with hidden anger issues due to constant teasing and excessive sheltering by his mother, Helen (Kathy Bates). He became the water boy for the (fictional) University of Louisiana Cougars[3] after being told his father died of dehydration in the Sahara while serving in the Peace Corps. However, the players always torment him and the team's head coach, Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed), eventually fires him for "disrupting" his practices. Bobby then approaches Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) of the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs and asks to work as the team's water boy. Coach Klein has been coach of SCLSU for years without success, after his playbook was stolen by Red Beaulieu.

Bobby's mother Helen tells Bobby of the evils of football (which she calls "foosball") and forbids him to play. After being picked on again by his new team, Coach Klein encourages Bobby to strike back, which leads to him tackling and knocking out the team's quarterback. Coach Klein convinces Bobby to enroll as a student at SCLSU and play for the team, which he agrees to do as long as nobody tells his mother after Coach Klein shows Bobby his tattoo of Roy Orbison, encouraging him to clandestinely go against his mother's wishes.

Bobby quickly becomes one of the most feared linebackers in college football, hitting opposing players with injury-causing force. The Mud Dogs manage a winning streak and earn a trip to the annual Bourbon Bowl to face the Cougars and Coach Beaulieu. Bobby's newfound fame also allows him to rekindle a relationship with his childhood friend and crush, Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk), who has been in prison multiple times. However, Helen forbids Bobby from seeing her again.

Coach Beaulieu reveals that Bobby never finished high school, making him ineligible for college and football. However, Bobby manages to pass his GED exam, despite his mother's objections about him going back to college. She then fakes falling ill to keep Bobby from playing, but eventually relents after witnessing the town residents' support for Bobby. The next day, Helen tells Bobby the truth about his father and why she was faking her illness. Years ago, his father found work in New Orleans, changed his name to Roberto and left Helen for a voodoo priestess, while she was pregnant. This in turn lead Helen to excessively shelter Bobby all his life, afraid he would abandon her like Roberto did. Helen realizes the best thing for her to do is let him go since he has made a lot of friends and encourages him to play in the Bourbon Bowl.

Arriving at halftime of the Bourbon Bowl with Helen and Vicki, Bobby manages to encourage the losing Mud Dogs to make a comeback. The team admits that he has become the heart and soul of the Mud Dogs. With Bobby's help, Coach Klein overcomes his fear of Red Beaulieu and visualizing him as someone or something he isn't afraid of, which helps him create new plays that allow the Mud Dogs to catch up. Helen helps the cheerleaders out by making coffee and it helps sober them up as they cheer their fans on to rally, while Vicki is seen giving out water to the Mud Dogs. During the final play, Bobby throws a touchdown pass and the Mud Dogs win the Bourbon Bowl. Bobby is named the MVP of the game.

Sometime later, Bobby and Vicki get married and are heading to the riding lawn mower. On their way out, Bobby's father makes an unexpected appearance, telling him that he heard from ESPN that he may go to the NFL. Bobby tells him that he is not going to the NFL because he wants to stay in school and graduate. Roberto tries to get him to skip school and go to the NFL, hoping to personally profit as the father of an NFL player. He is quickly tackled to the ground by an enraged Helen for this (and out of revenge against Roberto for leaving her years ago), much to the cheers of the crowd. Bobby and Vicki leave to consummate their marriage.


Filming and production[edit]

The Waterboy was mostly filmed in the Central Florida and Orlando area as well as around Daytona Beach, DeLand, Florida, Lakeland, Florida, and surrounding areas.

The Mud Dogs home games were filmed at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand, Florida, home of the local high school team (the DHS Bulldogs). The classrooms and gym where Bobby takes the GED are part of Stetson University, also located in DeLand. Stetson's Carlton Student Union building is featured in the scene where Bobby is told his mother has been hospitalized.

The scenes involving mama's cabin were shot on Lake Louisa, in Clermont, Florida.

Coach Klein's (Henry Winkler's) office was a stage built inside of the Florida Army National Guard Armory in DeLand, Florida. It is home of Btry B 1st Bn 265th ADA. If one was to look closely, in the background of the practice field scenes, they can see the Armory and some military vehicles.

The initial exterior shot of the University of Louisiana stadium was EverBank Field in Jacksonville; the interior of the stadium is actually the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The Citrus Bowl was also the filming location for the climatic Bourbon Bowl game, while the flyover shot at the beginning of the game is of Williams-Brice Stadium at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.

The "medulla oblongata" scene was filmed at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. The extras in the scene were students at Florida Southern College. The scene was shot in Edge Hall.

Critical reception[edit]

The Waterboy received negative reviews from critics. At review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, 32% of the reviews were positive, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's consensus was "The Waterboy is an insult to its genre with low humor and cheap gags."[4] At Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 41%, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times gave the film a negative review, saying "Sandler is making a tactical error when he creates a character whose manner and voice has the effect of fingernails on a blackboard, and then expects us to hang in there for a whole movie."[6] The film also appeared on his "Most Hated" list.[7] Lisa Alspector of the Chicago Reader gave the film a negative review, writings: "Geek-triumphs-after-all comedies can be charming, but in this one the triumphing begins so early it's hard to feel for the geek."[8] Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post described the movie as "Another film about . . . a cretinous, grating loser."[9]

Manhola Dargins of L.A Weekly gave the film a mixed review, writing: "Of course it's dumb, but every 10 minutes or so, it's also pretty funny."[10] Glen Lovell of Variety said of the film, "This yahoos-on-the-bayou farce is neither inventive nor outrageous enough.".[11] David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews also gave the film a mixed review, calling it a "An agreeable yet forgettable comedy".[12]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times said the film was "so cheerfully outlandish that it's hard to resist, and so good-hearted that it's genuinely endearing.".[13] Mark Savlov of the Austin Chronicle also gave the film a positive review and said the film was "A mildly amusing bayou farce with plenty of 'foosball' action to liven the sometimes plodding proceedings."[14]

The film grossed $185,991,646 worldwide from a $20 million budget.[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

For his role Sandler was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. The film was also a nominee for the American Film Institute's AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Box Office Mojo". 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Movie/TV helmets". Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  4. ^ "The Waterboy Review". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Waterboy". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "THE WATERBOY". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Roger Ebert's Most Hated". IMDb. 
  8. ^ Alspector, Lisa. "The Waterboy Review". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  9. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael. "The Waterboy". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Dargins, Manhola. "The Waterboy Review". 
  11. ^ Lovell, Glen. "Waterboy Review". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Nusair, David. "The Waterboy (July 10/10)". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Maslin, Janet. "The Waterboy (1998) FILM REVIEW; Md Dogs! Mud Dogs! Rah Rah Rah!". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Savlov, Mark. "The Waterboy". Austin Chronicle Corp. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Waterboy". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  16. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-04. 

External links[edit]