“Did you eat one of my grapes?” –Gary, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Happy Madison is a studio that gets groans from movie audiences whenever it releases a new movie. They tend to be the lowest of comedy, picking at the bottom-of-the-barrel, easy, dumb jokes. The biggest deterrent at this point is Adam Sandler himself, who has become lazier with his roles. He decided to take on a straight man role that doesn’t quite fit him and have his collection of wacky friends play wacky characters. You end up with David Spade and Rob Schneider doing strange things. Chris Rock shows up to yell, or Andy Samberg does goofy Andy Samberg stuff. These are the main players.
Then there are the movies that Adam Sandler doesn’t star in. Once in a while, he gives his friends a lead role. That’s how you end up with Joe Dirt, Deuce Bigalow, Grandma’s Boy, and Strange Wilderness. They aren’t Adam Sandler movies, but they fit that Happy Madison brand of comedy. One of particular note is Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which put Nick Swardson in the lead role. It followed Bucky Larson (Nick Swardson) as he travelled from his Midwestern town to Los Angeles to become a porn star. Through his journey, he fell in love with a waitress named Kathy (Christina Ricci), teamed up with director Miles Deep (Don Johnson), and competed with fellow porn star Dick Shadow (Stephen Dorff). It’s a classic story of boy meets girl, boy makes porn, boy and girl fall in love.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is not good. It might be fair to say that it is one of the worst that Happy Madison has produced. But it did bring one thing to mind. Most of the recent movies coming out of Happy Madison are subpar. The leads seem to either not try at all, as is the case for the Adam Sandler straight man movies, or they try too hard to the point of being unfunny and over the top, as in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. Yet there always tends to be a source of laughs in the supporting roles. It might be a few of the side characters, or it might just be one person doing all of the humorous lifting.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is as bad as it is because of the concept and because Nick Swardson plays the character so beyond the realm of reality that it’s difficult to sympathize with him. You’re laughing at him, not with him or at his antics. You’re laughing at him as a person. It’s mean and unfunny. However, when you look beyond that character, there are elements to the movie that aren’t quite as bad. Don Johnson puts in a strong performance compared to the rest of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, but the real standout is Kevin Nealon. This guy never gets the credit that he deserves. In this movie, he played Bucky’s roommate in Los Angeles, who hated Bucky. Nealon went to the extreme with his performance, which was justified due to the character being an extreme guy. One standout moment was when Bucky was on the phone and Nealon was hiding in the closet. He jumped out, yelled “Fucking whore!” and ran away. It could have been a terrible moment, but Nealon sold it like he did his entire role. He made a terrible comedy have the smallest bit of laughter.
It isn’t uncommon for this to happen in a Happy Madison movie. The supporting characters tend to have the better jokes. There are a few instances where the lead actually ends up being fairly funny (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star), but most of the studio’s output has the supporting characters landing better jokes. This is especially true of the new Adam Sandler starring movies. For some reason, Adam Sandler has decided to become the straight man. It doesn’t quite work for him and loses all comedic effect because of how lazy he gets. Though, sometimes he still goes wacky and it goes wrong.
Jack and Jill is another movie where a supporting role outshines the lead. Adam Sandler took on both lead roles as Jack and his twin sister Jill. Jack was the straight man while Jill was that wacky character that he played off of. Neither were funny, but there’s one person that stood out as the only real bright spot in the movie. That was supporting actor Al Pacino, playing himself. Throughout the movie, he was infatuated with Jill. Jack went along with this because he wanted Pacino to be in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial. Al Pacino not only got the majority of the laughs, he landed one of the best jokes in any Adam Sandler movie. I’ve brought up before that the ending of Jack and Jill made me think that Adam Sandler was trolling his audience. Al Pacino saw the commercial he made and immediately said how bad it was and that they should get rid of every copy. Was it about the commercial, or was it meta commentary about the movie that Pacino had just participated in? Either way, he stuck the landing on that joke. He was the sole good performance in the movie and he wasn’t the main character.
One I haven’t covered that I know people don’t like too much is Grown Ups 2. There wasn’t much story, which lost some of the audience. More people were lost by the fact that the main characters felt like the actors just goofing off without trying. I understand the gripe. But beyond that, there were entertaining performances by the supporting cast. The child actor playing Chris Rock’s son was funny. Taylor Lautner did a good job as the frat boy, even getting to make fun of himself in a way that didn’t feel too on the nose. Tim Meadows is always a great addition to a movie. Once you get past the burp snarting surface of Grown Ups 2, there is some good supporting material.
Adam Sandler’s studio has always had a history of solid performances in smaller, supporting roles. Even if the lead role isn’t as successful as desired, such as in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, there tends to be a smaller role that is worth watching. The movie might be a pain to watch, but there’s always something that works. Someone made sure to give a good, funny performance. Kevin Nealon made sure to put some good work into Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. Al Pacino made sure to do good work in Jack and Jill. The movies were both terrible. Yet I came away from them appreciating these supporting performances. That’s why I will always give Happy Madison a shot.
Now you’re hopefully going to give these notes a shot:
- Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was suggested by @prfessorbigsock.
- Allen Covert was in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. That marks his fourth appearance in the Sunday “Bad” Movies after Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Going Overboard, and Jack and Jill.
- Nick Swardson has returned to the Sunday “Bad” Movies after being in A Haunted House and Jack and Jill.
- This was the third Sunday “Bad” Movie for Christina Ricci who was also in The Hero of Color City and 200 Cigarettes.
- Seven actors were in both Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and Jack and Jill. They were Owen Benjamin, Peter Dante, J.D. Donaruma, Robert Harvey, Jonathan Loughran, Tyler Spindel, and Chris Titone.
- Jackie Sandler was in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star as well as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.
- Dana Goodman and Julia Lea Wolov were both in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo before appearing in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.
- Did you recognize Monty Hoffman in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star? He was in Howard the Duck.
- The Coed and the Zombie Stoner featured actress Christine Nguyen, who returned for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.
- Pauly Shore played himself in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. He was in Bio-Dome.
- One of the actors in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was Tembi Locke, who was also in Steel.
- Stephen Dorff played Bucky’s rival. He was also in a movie called Alone in the Dark.
- Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star had an actor named Curtis Armstrong in it. He was in Jingle All the Way as Booster.
- Beverly Polcyn made her second Sunday “Bad” Movies appearance with Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. She was previously in Date Movie.
- You may have noticed Bryan Anthony in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. He was in Showgirls as well.
- Finally, Danielle Vasinova returned to the Sunday “Bad” Movies with Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. She was in Little Dead Rotting Hood.
- Have you seen Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star? Have you seen Jack and Jill? Have you seen any Happy Madison movies? What did you think of them? Are there any supporting performances that stand out to you? Let me know in the comments.
- Go to my Twitter if you want to suggest a movie for me to watch in a future Sunday “Bad” Movies week. You can also leave suggestions in the comments. I’m always looking for movies to watch in the future that I might not otherwise think to include myself.
- Sometimes when I’m watching bad movies, I like to share clips of them on snapchat. If that interests you, feel free to add me. jurassicgriffin
- Next week will be an interesting week. I’ll be writing about the movie Timeline. It’s not that bad. I included it based on a suggestion, watched it, and kind of liked it. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now. Come back next week to see what I write about it. I swear it’s not going to be another post of “Sometimes I end up with movies that aren’t that bad and I’m unsure what to do so here’s why I take suggestions…” I’ve done enough of those. See you next week.