American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I believe in giving every movie the benefit of the doubt. I walked into "The Waterboy," sat down, took a sip of my delicious medium roast coffee and felt at peace with the world. How nice it would be, I thought, to give Adam Sandler a good review for a change. Goodwill and caffeine suffused my being, and as the lights went down I all but beamed at the screen.
Then Adam Sandler spoke, and all was lost. His character's voice is made of a lisp, a whine, a nasal grating and an accent that nobody in Louisiana actually has, although the movies pretend that they do. His character is a 31-year-old man who, soon after the film opens, is fired as the waterboy of a championship football team. Then he talks himself into a job with a team of losers, led by the insecure Coach Kline (Henry Winkler).
Bobby Boucher, the waterboy, is one of those people who is so insufferable, in a passive-aggressive way, that you have to believe they know what they're doing. No one could be that annoying by accident. I am occasionally buttonholed by such specimens. They stand too close, they talk too loudly, they are not looking at me but at an invisible Teleprompter somewhere over my shoulder. If I were a man of action, I would head-butt them and take my chances with the courts.
"The Waterboy" tries to force this character into the ancient movie mold of the misunderstood simple little guy with a heart of gold. By the end of the movie we are supposed to like him, I think, especially as the whole school turns up in a candlelight vigil outside the hospital where he waits at the bedside of his (not) dying mother. There is only one way I can see myself liking this character. That would be if "The Waterboy," like "That Obscure Object of Desire" and "Lost Highway," had two different actors play the same character, so that by the end Bobby Boucher was being portrayed by Tom Hanks.
At the ripe age of 89, Oscar can still be a notoriously picky fellow when it comes to what constitutes a contender fo...