The WaterBoy

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 95:59 minutes
(not 86 as listed on the packaging) 
Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (53:40)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Frank Coraci

Warner Home Video
Starring Adam Sandler 
Kathy Bates 
Fairuza Balk 
Jerry Reed 
Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler's stand-in butt
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Alan Pasqua

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles German 
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The WaterBoy is an Adam Sandler movie, pure and simple. When you see Adam Sandler's name emblazoned across some part of the cover artwork, you pretty much know what you're going to get on the disc contained within. Once upon a time, I remember a comedian of some description asking Steve Martin in a rather impromptu interview why he wasn't funny anymore. If I were interviewing Sandler, this would probably be the first question out of my mouth, in spite of the fact that I believe he hasn't ever been particularly funny to begin with. Sure, he's a lot easier to tolerate than a certain other one-trick pony by the name of Jim Carrey, but this is like saying having a hot needle shoved into your urethra is a lot easier to tolerate than having your buttocks glued together with road tar. While this film induced a couple of moderate laughs from me because of the very clever CGI effects and some hilariously placed mumbling, none of the laughs in this film come from Sandler's efforts. This has a lot to do with the fact that his original formula was aimed mainly at people with limited intellectual capacities or standards (or both) while his later formula seems to be based on playing soulful, sensitive characters with a comedic edge. Neither of these approaches particularly work, but the latter approach is definitely far less preferable. The WaterBoy attempts to strike a balance between the two, and this is what hampers the film most.

    Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) is a man of limited intelligence and autonomy. The latter flaw is of critical importance to some of the sequences later in the film, but that's a minor detail. Bobby's main source of pride lies in his duties as the operator of the water dispenser for a college football team. He performs these duties extremely well, while he is the butt of many a joke from the team. After one particularly bad day, he is fired by the coach, leaving him with no purpose in life except to spend more time with his domineering mother (Kathy Bates). Bobby eventually finds work as a waterboy for another college football team with a forty game losing streak, coached by Coach Klein (Henry Winkler and Henry Winkler's Stand-In ButtTM). This team also subjects Bobby to a fair amount of abuse, until the day he is told to fight back, which he does so well that it gets him a spot on the football team. With a couple of subplots involving Klein's failed career as a sports coach, and a love interest named Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk acting much better than her usual self), this film is great as one-time entertainment, even if the replay value is somewhat limited.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented at the aspect of 1.78:1, with 16x9 Enhancement. I've said it before, and I will say it again: Buena Vista, if the film was originally shown in 1.85:1, then transfer it to DVD in 1.85:1, not this 1.78:1 crap! Having said that much, the transfer is just short of reference quality, and looks very nice indeed. The transfer is exceptionally sharp and clear, but there are slight hints of edge enhancement which detract from the overall look of the film just a tiny bit. Shadow detail was excellent, even for a film of such recent vintage, and no low-level noise was present at any time. The colours were vibrant and consistently rendered from start to finish. If anything, there was a consistent hint of oversaturation, with some of the reds in football uniforms bordering on the edge of bleeding, although I never saw them quite get that extreme. Skin tones did appear to bleed just a little on both television sets I used, with the various colours that made up Adam Sandler's skin tones tending to mesh together.

    No MPEG artefacts could be seen at any time in the feature, and film-to-video artefacts were also mostly absent from the presentation, although there were a lot more of these than there should be for a film of such recent vintage. There was a noticeable, but very slight video skip in the image from time to time, which was a little distracting. This artefact, which occurred at scene transitions for a single frame, is almost certainly caused by the editing process, and does not normally take place in video that has been edited digitally. It would not surprise me at all to learn that the film was cut together using a razor blade and a roll of splicing tape, given the appearance of these skips.

    The list of subtitles on the packaging do not mention the German and Portuguese subtitle tracks, and mention a non-existent French subtitle track. Subtitles did not default to on in any language with either of my players. The playing time is also incorrectly stated on the packaging, with the playing time stated as being eighty-six minutes rather than the ninety-six that the film actually runs for.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 53:40. There is very little indication of the transition, with the video and audio only pausing for about a quarter of a second. Given that there is only ninety-six minutes worth of video information on this disc, it is very good to see that Buena Vista have used a format that allows the video adequate space to breathe. It definitely shows in the quality of the video.


    There are three audio soundtracks on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding, and a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The packaging refers to a Czechoslovakian soundtrack that does not exist. I listened to the English soundtrack, as well as sampling the Hungarian soundtrack for curiosity purposes. That weird mumbling guy's lines actually seemed to make more sense in Hungarian. Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to make out, with the exception of the aforementioned weird mumbling guy, as well as some of Adam Sandler's lines. This is fairly typical of his films, however, so it is not a fault of the transfer. Audio sync was never an issue, even when the weird mumbling guy spoke (incidentally, he was the only thing in the film that induced real laughter on my part).

    The score music by Alan Pasqua was totally unnoticeable, and not frequently used. It is quite easy to miss if you pay too much attention to such things as the dialogue and the sound effects. There is also a plethora of contemporary tunes, which make up the majority of the music in this film anyway, and most of them were equally unmemorable in any case. At times, the music in this film reminded me of that which accompanied From Dusk Till Dawn because of the number of songs used that you'd associate with the people of the so-called bible-belt in the USA. At times, the music of this film was an excellent accompaniment to the visuals, but there were enough times when it was more of a distraction.

    The surround channels were not used much at all, with the occasional slight use of the surrounds to support certain vocal effects and the music. Essentially, this is a very frontal mix with some very limited use of the rear channels. There was plenty of use of the left and right channels for the special effects, but these were never supported by the rears. The centre channel got some use, but this was mainly to support the dialogue, which was often quite dominant in the overall mix of the channels anyway. The subwoofer was only used to support the music.


    The changing face of the non-existent extras, a different absence for every occasion. Remove the absentia mask and see the vacant space on the disc, the lack of extras is all they know. (Am I the only one trying to be creative in saying "there are no extras" now?)


    For some reason, this disc starts up in the menu (which is not 16x9 Enhanced), rather than going straight into the movie as previous Buena Vista releases with no extras such as Starship Troopers are known to do. This simply highlights the annoying lack of extras more than anything. For the love of filmmaking, Buena Vista, is a simple theatrical trailer or an interview with the cast too much to ask for?

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Before I acquired my current set of video equipment, I didn't realize how important 16x9 Enhancement was to a DVD, and I would have said that the Region 1 version is the version to go for. However, if you're viewing this movie on anything more than a sixty-eight centimetre screen, then the Region 4 version is definitely the one to go for.


    The WaterBoy is a reasonable comedy, but not one that I would be particularly interested in adding to my collection. If you enjoyed The Wedding Singer in spite of how one-eyed its view of the world of the early 1980s is, then you'll enjoy The WaterBoy. It's worthy of a rental, at least.

    The video quality is quite respectable, and a real treat for the eyes.

    The audio quality is unremarkable except for some minor comedic moments.

    A note to Buena Vista: first you put Starship Troopers on an extraless flipper, then you put From Dusk Till Dawn on an extraless single-layer disc, and then you put The WaterBoy on an extraless RSDL disc. Is good use of the formatting really that hard to accomplish? It's called an extra, or a special feature - make use of it once in a while!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
March 12, 2000.

Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer