At this point, I have to assume that Adam Sandler and the guys at his Happy Madison Productions are making movies on a dare -- with each movie, they're daring one another to make a movie worse than the last. That's the only way to explain Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, the third and worst Happy Madison movie to come out this year. Yes, that means it's worse than Zookeeper, which itself managed to be worse than Just Go With It. It's not just the worst Happy Madison film released in 2011; it might just be the worst film period.
Bucky Larson stars comedian and Happy Madison regular Nick Swardson, who also co-wrote the movie alongside Sandler and frequent contributor Allen Covert. Swardson plays the titular character, an idiotic man-child from the midwest with a terrible pageboy haircut and enormous prosthetic buck teeth. When Bucky learns that his parents used to be adult film stars in the '70s, he decides it's his destiny to follow in their footsteps and leaves Iowa for Hollywood. There, he meets a nice girl (Christina Ricci, visibly embarrassed and uncomfortable throughout the whole thing) who dreams of being a waitress (I'm not kidding) and hooks up with a sleazy producer (Don Johnson, the only actor in the movie who almost gives a genuine performance) who's able to capitalize on Bucky's major attributes -- or lack thereof.
It's almost difficult to know where to start in addressing what's wrong with Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star (the title follows the Happy Madison trend that includes Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Paul Blart: Mall Cop and, of course, Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo), so I'll start with Bucky himself. You know you're in trouble when the main character of your comedy is outfitted with "funny" hair and "funny" teeth and is given a "funny" voice in which to speak; he's not a character so much as a combination of grotesqueries thrown together by Swardson in an improvisation designed to make his friends laugh. He is repellent to watch and impossible to care about, despite the film's every effort to make him simple and sweet; Bucky might just be the most ill-conceived protagonist for a comedy since Sandler's own Little Nicky.
At least Little Nicky had some ambition going for it, with an amusing depiction of Hell and some special effects to distract from the jokes that fell flat. Bucky Larson hasn't met a terrible, juvenile sex joke it won't attempt, as though watching a character who is completely clueless about the way the world works discover sex for the first time is comic gold waiting to be mined. Making matters worse is the way that the crassness of the humor butts up against the overly saccharine romance between Swardson and Ricci (who have slightly less chemistry than Holyfield/Tyson), which feels creepy in every way -- not just because Bucky is practically a child, but also because Ricci so clearly wishes she was anywhere else.
I can't figure it out. Sandler and Swardson are both capable of being really funny, but somehow have combined their efforts to come up with a movie that's worse than Grown Ups. Is this what they think is funny? Or do they just not care? Did Swardson see this as a good first starring role for himself? Did he think that Bucky would sweep the country by storm like the second coming of Napoleon Dynamite? (Who is also the worst; don't get me started.) Just about every facet of the movie feels like a mistake, further tarnishing Sandler and his Happy Madison brand and establishing them as the purveyors of some of the worst comedies in contemporary cinema. And they just keep getting worse.
Before Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star started, a trailer ran for Sandler's next movie, Jack and Jill. If there really is a dare to make the worst movie going at Happy Madison, I think Sandler's going to win.
- Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star is Rated R for pervasive crude sexual content, language and some nudity.
- Release Date: 9/10/11
- Running Time: 96 minutes
- Studio: Columbia