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 date
  • November 6, 1998 (1998-11-06)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $23 million
Box office $186 million

The Waterboy is a 1998 American sports comedy film directed by Frank Coraci (who also appears in a cameo role), 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 "The Big Show" 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 Sandler, on Saturday Night Live.[2] Like Bobby, Canteen Boy was a soft-spoken manchild who preferred "purified water, right out of the old canteen," which he always carried with him.


Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) is a socially inept, stuttering 31-year-old water boy of the University of Louisiana's football program [3] He lives with his excessively protective mother, Helen (Kathy Bates), and believes his father, Robert Sr., died of dehydration in the Sahara while serving in the Peace Corps.

As school authorities notice the players constantly bullying Boucher, the Cougars' head coach, Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed), fires Boucher, claiming he is "disruptive." Bobby approaches Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) of the far more austere South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs and is hired as the team's water boy. The Mud Dogs are a struggling team both on and off the field. They have lost 40 consecutive games, their cheerleaders are alcoholics, and players are forced to share equipment due to budget cuts.

Helen forbids Bobby from playing football, warning him of its "evils." After the new team picks on him, Klein encourages Bobby to stand up for himself, leading to him tackling and knocking out the team's quarterback. It turns out Bobby has hidden anger issues due to Helen's excessive sheltering and years being bullied. Seeing his potential, Klein meets with Helen and tries to persuade her to let Bobby play, but she refuses.

Klein eventually convinces Bobby to play without letting Helen know. Bobby quickly becomes one of the most feared linebackers. In his first game, he causes a turnover that costs the team the win, but he helps the team win the next game, ending their long losing streak. The Mud Dogs go on a winning streak and earn a trip to the annual Bourbon Bowl to face the Cougars and Coach Beaulieu. Bobby's newfound fame and confidence also allow him to reconnect with his childhood crush, Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk), who has been in prison multiple times. Helen forbids Bobby from seeing her, warning him that girls are "the devil."

Beaulieu crashes the Mud Dogs' pep rally and reveals that Bobby never finished high school (being homeschooled by his mother) and his high school transcript was fake, making him ineligible for college and football. This turns the team and fans against him. Klein convinces NCAA to let Bobby play if he can pass a GED exam. He apologizes to Bobby and admits to submitting the fake transcript because he was desperate to get even with Beaulieu. It is revealed that Klein and Beaulieu used to be assistant coaches at the University of Louisiana. Beaulieu took credit for Klein's playbook, got promoted to head coach, and immediately fired Klein. The experience drove Klein to a mental breakdown, making him unable to come up with new plays. The story convinces Bobby to help Klein get revenge on Beaulieu and prove himself to everyone. While studying, Bobby inadvertently reveals to Helen that he has been playing football, going to college, and seeing Vicki. This leads to them having a fight that ends with Bobby defying his mother.

Bobby passes the exam, but Helen feigns illness. Feeling he drove his mother to illness, Bobby stays in the hospital with her. Meanwhile, Vicki spreads word of Bobby passing the exam. This leads to a gathering of fans at the hospital who apologize for not supporting him and try to convince him to play. Seeing her son struggling to ignore his calling, Helen has a change of heart. She tells Bobby the truth about his father, who abandoned her while she was pregnant with Bobby. Consequently, Helen is constantly afraid that Bobby would leave her. Having seen him being happy and making new friends, she encourages him to play in the Bourbon Bowl.

Arriving at halftime, Bobby finds the Mud Dogs losing 27-0. He tries to encourage the team, who apologizes for not treating him with the respect he deserves. With Bobby's help, Coach Klein overcomes his fear of Beaulieu and comes up with new plays. The Mud Dogs begin to catch up, unsettling Beaulieu, who resorts to underhanded tactics. Meanwhile, Helen helps by sobering up the team's cheerleaders, while Vicki fills in for Bobby's usual waterboy duties. Eventually, the Mud Dogs win the Bourbon Bowl by a score of 30-27, ending Beaulieu a "perfect season" with the Cougars. Bobby is named the MVP.

Some time later, Bobby and Vicki get married. Robert, Sr. (director Frank Coraci in a cameo role) shows up and tries to convince Bobby to skip school and go to the NFL, citing the success of Tiger Woods and his father. He is tackled to the ground by an enraged Helen while the crowd cheers. 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, South Carolina.

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


The Waterboy: Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released November 3, 1998 (1998-11-03)
Length 54:53
Label Hollywood

The soundtrack for The Waterboy was released on November 3, 1998 by Hollywood Records.[4]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Born on the Bayou" Creedence Clearwater Revival 5:15
2. "More Today Than Yesterday" Goldfinger 3:22
3. "Boom Boom" Big Head Todd and the Monsters 3:33
4. "Feed It" The Candyskins 3:35
5. "Peace Frog" The Doors 2:57
6. "Let's Groove" Earth, Wind & Fire 5:38
7. "Always on the Run" Lenny Kravitz 3:53
8. "Doin' My Thang" Incidents / Lifelong 4:10
9. "Small Town" John Mellencamp 3:40
10. "New Year's Eve" Joe Walsh 4:00
11. "No One to Run With" The Allman Brothers Band 5:58
12. "Tom Sawyer" Rush 4:34
13. "Glowing Soul" Candlebox 4:18
Total length: 54:53

Critical reception[edit]

The Waterboy received mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, 35% of the reviews were positive, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's consensus says "The Waterboy is an insult to its genre with low humor and cheap gags."[5] At Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 41%, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6]

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."[7] Lisa Alspector of the Chicago Reader also gave the film a negative review, writing "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 "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. ^ Nguyen, Vi-an (July 11, 2013). "15 Movie Stars Who Got Their Starts on Saturday Night Live". Parade Magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Movie/TV helmets". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Waterboy Review". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Waterboy". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "THE WATERBOY". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  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]