Have you noticed that you take less heat these days for saying you like Adam Sandler? The Wedding Singer, in which the former SNL comic teamed romantically with Drew Barrymore, was a crossover hit earlier this year. Even those who dis Sandler as a jerk kind of warmed to it. The rest of us, hooked on the jerk joys of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, spark more when Sandler tries less to win a wider audience and simply, crassly, rudely runs amok.
Which brings us to The Waterboy, a Sandler vehicle that offers dumb fun without apology. Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, an unschooled, unscrewed Louisiana mama's boy who ladles out "quality H2O" to a college football team that kicks his ass and spits in his cooler. When Coach Klein (a very welcome Henry Winkler) discovers that a demon pops out in sweet Bobby any time some fool insults his mama (Oscar winner Kathy Bates is a hoot), the Waterboy becomes the team's star tackler and a target for de-virginizing by Vicki Vallencourt, played with droll, red-lipped sluttiness by Fairuza Balk.
Sandler and his college buds - director Frank Coraci, co-writer Tim Herlihy, co-producer Jack Giarraputo - may have been to the well once too often with the story of an endearing, maternally obsessed simpleton who finds success and sex through anger. But Sandler makes the laughs go down easy, even if The Waterboy isn't exactly quality H2O.