Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

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Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Born to Be a Star Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Brady
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Barrett
Edited byJason Gourson
Music byWaddy Wachtel
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • September 9, 2011 (2011-09-09)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1][2]
Box office$2.5 million[2]

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is a 2011 American comedy film directed by Tom Brady, produced by Happy Madison Productions, distributed by Columbia Pictures, written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert, and Nick Swardson, and starring Swardson, Christina Ricci, Stephen Dorff, and Don Johnson. It tells the story of a man-child whose reserved parents were famous porn stars and plans to follow in their footsteps.

It was released on September 9, 2011, and became a box office bomb, in addition to being universally panned by film critics, earning a 3% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics considered it one of the worst films of all time. It received six Razzie nominations, including for Worst Picture, but lost to the film Jack and Jill, another film from Happy Madison Productions (which swept that year's Razzies).


Bucky Larson, a small-town man-child with big buck teeth, works at a local grocery store, and still lives at home. One night while watching porn with his friends, he stumbles upon a family secret: his quiet and reserved parents were famous adult performers in the 1970s. This motivates him to leave northern Iowa for Hollywood, hoping to follow in their footsteps and fulfill his destiny as the biggest adult-film star in the world. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to become a porn star like his parents, and his penis is incredibly small.

Once he reaches L.A., he meets and falls in love with Kathy, a kindhearted waitress, who introduces him to Gary, the former roommate of John Mayer. After moving with Gary, he pursues his job as a porn actor. Through a series of misadventures he ends up at an industry party, where he is humiliated by narcissistic porn star Dick Shadow. The next day, he meets fading porn director Miles Deep. They make a test film where Bucky pre-maturely ejaculates, and they consider the endeavor a failure. But after one of the crew uploads the video to YouTube, Bucky achieves popularity as his small penis makes women appreciate their partner's endowment and the men don't feel threatened.

After failing to secure an adult film contract for Bucky, Miles decides to produce films with him independently. They eventually achieve success with their videos, but Bucky chooses Kathy over fame. Before he can tell her how he feels, she rejects him without explanation, leaving him brokenhearted. During a film shoot, Miles confesses that he had told Kathy to leave Bucky so he could have his prize star all to himself.

Bucky forgives Miles and goes after Kathy, who is on a horrible date with Dick Shadow. Bucky declares his love for Kathy, and the two get married. After one year, Bucky opens his own steakhouse. One night, Gary comes into the restaurant and yells at him for owing him rent money, and tells Bucky he is "just like John Mayer".



Critical response[edit]

The film was not pre-screened for critics,[3] and was panned by critics on its opening weekend. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 3% based on reviews from 36 critics, with an average rating of 2.3/10. The site's critics consensus called it a "severely misguided and inept comedy incapable of even telling its single joke properly."[4] On Metacritic, the film received a weighted average score of 9 out of 100, indicating "overwhelming dislike", based on reviews from 13 critics,[5] making it the worst-reviewed wide release of 2011.[6] It was also given the Moldy Tomato award for the worst-reviewed film of 2011 by Rotten Tomatoes.[7] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A to F.[8]

Orlando Sentinel critic Roger Moore stated "the concept, and the movie that comes from it aren't funny. And second, Swardson wasn't any more born to be a star than his character".[9] New York Times critic A.O. Scott stated in his review that Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was so bad that it "may have been made ... to console every actor who has ever been in a movie that is a little less bad than this one. Let me put the matter another way: this may be the worst movie Pauly Shore has ever been in. Think about that. If you dare, go on Netflix and test the hypothesis."[10] Critic Nathan Rabin gave the film a D−[11] in his initial review, then noted that "Bucky Larson was panned so viciously that my D− ranked on the generous side of critical appraisals" when revisiting the film a second time for his My Year of Flops column, where he cited it as an example of a "shitty miracle, [a film where] everything goes awry. It's not a matter of one sorry element dragging the rest down; it's every terrible component amplifying the awfulness of everything else", later calling it "one of the ugliest, most misguided comedies in recent memory."[12]


The film earned six nominations at the 32nd Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Nick Swardson), Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Ensemble, and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel (rip-off of Boogie Nights and A Star Is Born). It lost in all six categories to Jack and Jill, another poorly received film in which Adam Sandler and Nick Swardson had involvement.[13]

Box office[edit]

Bucky Larson was a box office flop, earning only $1.4 million to land at #15 for its opening weekend, thus making Bucky Larson the least successful Happy Madison film to date, both critically and commercially. After two weeks of release, the film had earned a total of $2.5 million, after which it was pulled from theatres.[14]

The film's budget was under $10 million.[1]

Response from Swardson[edit]

Swardson defended Bucky Larson in an October 2011 interview, in which he blamed its poor financial showing on the difficulties of advertising the material: "To promote an R-rated movie, with commercials, with this character, it was just really, really hard. It was hard to get the movie across to people. The trailer in theaters was really tame because we couldn't show any of the insanity, and even if we did it, it wouldn't hit because it had no context. It was just really frustrating." He predicted the film would find more appreciation on DVD.[15]

In the same interview, Swardson dismissed the negative reviews. "I knew the critics were going to bury us because of the acting, how it was written and directed ... None of those reviewers was psyched to see Bucky Larson and laugh. They go in with the mentality 'fuck these guys for making another movie.' They go in there to kind of headhunt. It makes me laugh because it's just so embarrassing. It makes them look like such morons."[15]


  1. ^ a b Kaufman, Amy (September 8, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Contagion' will prove deadly for 'The Help'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2021. a budget of under $10 million
  2. ^ a b Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "No-show alert: 'Bucky Larson' - San Antonio Express-News". Mysanantonio.com. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  4. ^ "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  5. ^ "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2011)". Metacritic. September 10, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  6. ^ Dietz, Jason (January 5, 2012). "The Best and Worst Movies of 2011". Metacritic. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "Golden Tomatoes Awards 2011". Rotten Tomatoes. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  8. ^ "Movie Title Search: STAR". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2019-08-09.
  9. ^ "Movie Review: Bucky Larson, Born to be a Star". Archived from the original on September 25, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  10. ^ Scott, A. O. (September 9, 2011). "Making the Most of the Very Least, and Other Lessons". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  11. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2011-09-09). "Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star | Film | Movie Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  12. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2011-09-28). "Miraculous Case File #198: Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star | Film | My Year Of Flops". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  13. ^ "RAZZIES Nominations". Razzies.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  14. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for September 9–11, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Kiefer, Halle. "Nick Swardson On Bucky Larson, Pretend Time and the Critics." Archived 2011-10-07 at the Wayback Machine Splitsider, 3 October 2011.

External links[edit]