Comfortably Dumb

It begins with a gloriously ridiculous sight gag – a farmer-type spreads peanut butter on his junk and then invites a petting zoo’s worth of goats to nibble away. The man’s obscene mug, a toothy display of cheese, mugs, and mugs, and mugs. Around the sixty-minute mark, the dumbassyness of the comedy wears thin, but the first forty-five minutes are delirious fun.

The comedy is of the distinct, Happy Madison brand. BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR is a worthy addition to the Sandler & friends canon of inane, lazy comedies. The jokes are loose and dirty. A well tanned Don Johnson plays an adult film director named Miles Deep. Stephen Dorff is superstar and arrogant rival, Dick Shadow. His insane character once saw a shadow of his well-endowed body on a mountain side and then had an epiphany. The rude stage name arose from the experience.

Comedy superstars cameo and keep it sleazy. Kevin Nealon is strange (and strange-funny) as a foul-mouthed roommate.

(Oh boy, here we go…)

These movies – the Happy Madison overture – are the stupidest things on earth, but I love them. Millions and most film critics hate them. But then, millions of other folks, and most of my friends, dig the puerile potty humor. We see the forest through the trees, Loyal Reader. This crap is absurd. But it’s supposed to be absurd. It’s joyfully, unabashedly absurd.

Bucky Larson is a mid-westerner with huge buck teeth (the butt of many, many, many jokes) and a Dutch boy haircut. The blissfully oblivious character moves from a small town to LA after he discovers his parents starred in adult films. He thinks it’s his destiny to follow in their footsteps. Much ridiculous drama ensues.

I think I’ve used the word ridiculous a zillion times in this write-up. When talking Happy Madison, it’s the first word that comes to mind.

(Subtlety isn’t really his thing)

Anyway, artistically, there’s not much to discuss. Happy Madison plots are contrived, messy jumbles. The movies are barely directed (sorry directors), and some of them, a few more than others, are so slapdash lackadaisical that they are almost unwatchable. Almost. For when that idiot humor fires, and I’m doubled over, gasping for air, I can’t help but to give credit where credit is due. When can I laugh like that? When was the last time something uproariously sublime had you rolling on the floor? One scene in BUCKY LARSON had me laughing so hard that tears streamed down my cheeks. It’s that funny.

Swardson brings it. He plays the character…well…like a character, but he’s fun and he’s funny. His O face is priceless.  Christina Ricci plays nervous and nice as Bucky’s girlfriend. She does what is required over her and little more.

Like all great art, risks must be taken in the film making process. Some of Happy Madison’s shabby charm is in the way scenes are rammed together, ending abruptly, one sequence after another rubbing shoulders in odd cuts and messy jumps in time / cohesive narrative flow. Sometimes things are just weird.

Sometimes their sitcomish stories stretch credulity to the absolute limit. I don’t know what it is, but Sandler and company have the touch. They get me laughing which isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes they hit below the belt, going for the easy win with poop jokes. We roll our eyes and shake our heads and giggle at the foolishness of it all. Magic.

(An Empire of Dunces)

LARSON uses all of the same troupes every Happy Madison film uses. Let’s see, Loyal Reader…I think most of you are among the hundreds of millions of people who catch these films at the movies or on video. I’m going to assume you’ve seen THE WATERBOY, HAPPY GILMORE, GRANDMA’S BOY, and maybe, even, last year’s JUST GO WITH IT.

All four movies are retarded with a capital R. They are profane but sweet. They feature wild, unfocused direction and sitcom quality narratives. They are compulsively watchable. Supporting characters are outlandish. The ridiculous of it all is shared between the audience and the filmmakers. We know that they know that their films are goofy and in the end everybody’s needs are being met.

(Chimps and video games. These are a few of my favorite things…)

Some might argue that two of the four films are inept and worthless (many critics have slammed GRANDMA’S BOY and JUST GO WITH IT – THE WATERBOY and HAPPY GILMORE on the other hand actually have a bit more cred. Some critics like those two). I think they all have their golden moments.

GRANDMA’S BOY has Nick Swardson’s kid-car bed and I laughed out loud when he called his parents his ‘Roommates.’ It’s also got a great, uncomfortable scene involving a bathroom and an action figure (watch and understand).

JUST GO WITH IT has Dave Matthews picking up a large coconut with his butt cheeks and a classic little vignette featuring a kid wilding out in a Chuck E. Cheese parking lot. Hopped up on sugar, the wild kid runs away from his mom and then throws a soda at her in slow motion. Awesome.

THE WATER BOY and HAPPY GILMORE are so iconic and entrenched in popular culture that I don’t have to bother pointing out the highlights. Both films are extremely likable. Their subplots – the love interest stuff and other bits of things disconnected from the momentum of the A story – are more endearing. Sandler pulls off a couple of great leads. HAPPY GILMORE has him in Chevy Chase FLETCH / CADDYSHACK mode, witty and rude, but charming and charismatic. Endearing, right?

And who can forget THE WATERBOY? Sandler played the whole thing straight. Not Bobby Boucher’s ridiculous voice, and hair, and brain, but his world-view. The character is a goof, but he’s a sweet goof who believes in doing the right thing. He’s truly nice and his high-pitched stammer makes me smile from ear to ear.

(My Mama says that alligators are ornery because they got all them teeth and no toothbrush.)

So then, give into the idiocy and give BUCKY LARSON a chance. It’s a nice showcase for Swardson. It’s super stupid, but if you go in expecting as much, you’ll discover another Happy Madison confection – sugary sweet, slightly rancid, but as light and airy as a whisp of cotton candy.

More Larson goodness…


One Response to “Comfortably Dumb”

  1. […] Michael Louis Calvillo Must Be Destroyed obliterating the world one word at a time « Comfortably Dumb […]

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