Film: The Waterboy

"Now that's some high-quality H20."
Bobby Boucher, after being rejuvenated by his trademark favorite beverage

The Waterboy is a 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Henry Winkler. Sandler plays Bobby Boucher (pronounced Boo-SHAY), a socially inept (but also intelligent), stuttering waterboy with hidden anger issues due to constant teasing and his mother's (Kathy Bates) excessive sheltering. It is discovered that Bobby's anger issues make him an extraordinary football player. This transfers to the coach and the rest of the team.

You can mess with him, but don't mess with his tropes:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Inverted. Violent tackling tendencies aside, Bobby is an innocent, wholesome Nice Guy and Vicki is attracted to him for these reasons. However, she is a bad girl, but Bobby likes her anyway. She does call him out when he hesitates to sleep with her, but she forgives him shortly after.
  • Accidental Athlete
  • Alliterative Name: Bobby Boucher, Vicki Vallencourt (the third of Adam Sandler's "V-name" girlfriends), Coach Klein, Farmer Fran, Guy Grenouille.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Invoked by Mama Boucher while having lunch with Vicki Vallencourt. See also Never My Fault.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Bobby tackles his biology professor over the fact that alligators get ornery because of their enlarged medulla oblongata, leading to more aggressive emotions, instead of Mama Boucher's explanation that "they got all them teeth and no toothbrush". They're both wrong, because the medulla oblongata has absolutely nothing to do with emotions, being responsible for breathing and heart rate. The amygdala is responsible for emotions.
  • Artistic License – Sports: After interfering with a live practice play despite not being on the roster, dropkicking an opponent during a game, tackling a professor, and being directly linked to the theft of a guest's vehicle, Bobby would have been banned for life from SCLSU after one game at the most. Also, there is absolutely no way that Vicki would have been allowed to attend the Bourbon Bowl, much less watch the game from the field, after having threatened one of Louisiana University's players with a knife to the throat some days prior.
  • Berserk Button: The tagline in the poster above says it all. And give insulting his mother a try, I dare you, I double dare you...
  • Beware the Nice Ones
  • Big "NO!": After imagining his old coach berating him, he delivers this word to Casey before tackling him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Guy (pronounced Gey) Grenouille's last name is French for "Frog."
  • Black Best Friend: Derek, the only member of the Mud Dogs who Bobby gets along with.
  • Blatant Lies: Mama Boucher tells Bobby quite a few, such as that she invented electricity and that alligators are fierce because "they got all them teeth, but no toothbrush".
  • Book Dumb: Apparently, Bobby's lack of common knowledge is a result of his sheltered upbringing, rather than some learning disability.
  • Brick Joke: When interviewed at the final game, Vicki tells the sideline interviewer (former football great Lynn Swann) that the final score of the Bourbon Bowl will be 30-27, claiming "That ain't no guess— that's what it's gon be!" in an angry tone when questioned by Swann. With five seconds left in the game, the Mud Dogs are down 24-27 and are in field goal range, but decide to go for the win rather than the tie (which, if successful, would give them a 30-27 win). Swann looks at Vicki in disbelief, and she responds with a smug "I told you so" look.
  • Broken Record: Dan Fouts "Last game of the year, Brent. Can't hold anything back now...", eventually making Brent say "We know." Then, on the last play of the game, he screams at Brent Musberger "IT'S BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HOLD ANYTHING BACK!"
  • Butt Monkey: Colonel Sanders (one of Bobby's college professors, given the nickname by Bobby himself for his resemblance to the KFC icon), who's also The Chew Toy.
    • Bobby had been constantly abused throughout his life.
  • Calling Mama Out: Bobby just about had it with his mother towards the end of the film.
    Bobby: Everything is the devil to you, Mama! Well, I like school, and I like football! And I'm gonna keep doin' them both because they make me feel good! [walks towards the door] And by the way, Mama, alligators are ornery 'cause of their "medulla oblongata"! [walks out, then back in again] And I like Vicki, and she like me back! [almost in tears by this point] And she showed me her boobies and I like them too! [slams the door on Mama]
  • The Cameo:
    • Director Frank Coraci plays Bobby's father.
    • Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, and Lawrence Taylor show up as themselves.
  • Captain Ersatz - If you didn't notice the professor strongly resembled Colonel Sanders, Bobby points it out.
  • Catch Phrase: "YOU CAN DO EET!!!"
    • "(insert just about anything) is the devil!"
  • Character Development: Bobby goes from being a spineless mama's boy to an independent, confident adult who stands up for what he wants and thinks is right. Said confidence also transfers to the football field: Bobby's first game as a Mud Dog ends in disaster, as he doesn't really understand the concept of trying to win— he just wants to hit people who piss him off, which costs the team the game when they had it won. Eventually, he cements himself as the team's savior on defense, and in the Bourbon Bowl, he makes the game-winning play on offense, throwing a touchdown pass to quarterback Guy Grenouille. His potential as a person and a football player seem limitless.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Bobby's dad.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The glacier water Bobby gives to Vicki.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Coach Klein, ever since Coach Red stole his playbook. His first reaction was calling his grandma on a disconnected phone while wearing high heels.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Bobby's dad tries to coast on his success at the very end of the movie. Mama tackles him instead.
  • Comically Missing the Point: With a bit of Literal-Minded, when Bobby's at a party:
    Rita: Is there a girl you're seein'?
    Bobby: Seein'? Uh... [looks around the room, having taken the question literally] I see a lot of girls... I see a lot of guys too.
    Rita: [beat] I think that's sexy. You ever been with a guy and girl at the same time?
    Bobby: Oh, yeah, plenty of times. The other night I was with my mama and Coach Klein at the same time.
    [the other girl flirting with Bobby walks away, disgusted]
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The second half of the Bourbon Bowl essentially turns into a "Crazy enough to work" contest between the two coaches, concerning their respective strategies. When Bobby shows up at halftime, he forces a fumble on his first play and Robideaux runs it in for a touchdown to make the score 24-7, with the Mud Dogs trailing. So how does opposing coach Red Beaulieu respond? He tells his quarterback to take three knees on the next possession, because they already have the lead and the Mud Dogs' offense has been so bad, they'll need to be completely dependent on Bobby Boucher generating turnovers, so until SCLSU can score on offense, he's content to just try to run out the clock playing defense.

    It almost works, until Coach Klein, after being motivated by Bobby, draws up a trick play that fools the Cougars, eliminating their kneel-down strategy. Red Beaulieu then counters that tactic by placing Meaney, his best defensive player, at halfback on offense (which, as pointed out by Dan Fouts, is a strategy that NFL teams have used in the past, name-dropping William "The Fridge" Perry of the Chicago Bears). The first time Meaney touches the football on offense, Bobby powerbombs him (which whirls the crowd into a frenzy and puts a "You've gotta be kidding me" smile on Coach Klein's face).

    After this, the Mud Dogs, down 10 with 23 seconds remaining, line up for a field goal, with Boucher in as a blocker. They fake the kick and hand it to their halfback, and Bobby leads him to the end zone, running out in front of him and blasting any would-be tacklers like they were rodeo clowns.

    On the ensuing onside kick, Klein places Bobby on the field to help the team recover the ball. Wallace kicks it towards a nervous-looking Cougars player (who probably pissed himself because Bobby's on the field), and Boucher, for once, is actually NOT the one who lays the big hit, but his remarkable nose for the football leads him to recover the ball after the Cougars can't hold on to it.

    When a Cougars player loses his cool and hits Bobby after the play, the resultant penalty moves the Mud Dogs into field goal range, but, as was the theme of the second half, Coach Klein takes a HUGE gamble... and Bobby throws the game-winning touchdown to Guy Grenouille with no time on the clock.
  • Cry Laughing: Captain Insano does this after Bobby calls in offering to be Insano's personal waterboy and revealing that he's 31 years old.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It may be tough to see it under the speech impediment at first, but Bobby is definitely one.
    [Bobby reads a note from the Suggestion Box that says "Eat shit and die!"]
    Bobby: ... not exactly what I'd call constructive criticism.

    [Bobby is watching Dick Clark on New Year's Eve]
    Bobby: Look who's on TV, Mama. It's the Devil.

    [Meaney, a huge defensive end, is called in as a running back in an attempt to neutralize Bobby]
    Bobby: You sound like a big choo-choo train.

    Lyle Robideaux: [after Bobby shows up to his house party] Can I get you a drink?
    Bobby: I'll have a scotch and water, hold the scotch.
    Lyle: [smiles slightly] You just make a joke, Bobby?
    Bobby: [smiles] Yes, I did.
    Lyle: [deadpan] Heh heh heh. Good one.
  • Deep South: Specifically, Louisiana.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: All the flashbacks are shown in black and white. During Coach Klein's flashback, everything is black and white except the playbook Red Beaulieu takes from him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Bobby calls Coach Klein "Mr. Coach Klein" (and does the same with Coach Beaulieu).
  • Disability Superpower: Bobby's anger issues transfer to super strength, speed, awareness, and the ability to hunt down a ballcarrier like a heat-seeking missile.
  • Disappeared Dad: Near the beginning of the film, Bobby's mother tells Coach Klein how her ex-husband, and Bobby's father, died of dehydration in a desert while serving in the Peace Corps. In reality, his dad left his mother for another woman. He gets his comeuppance in the end.
  • Door Focus: It occurs as Bobby Boucher lashes out against his overprotective mother:
    Bobby: I like school! And I like football! And I'm gonna keep doing 'em both because they make me feel good! [leaves, slams the door, then opens it] And alligators get ornery because of their medulla oblongatas! [slams door again, then opens it again] And I like Vicki and she likes me back! And she showed me her boobies, and I like them, too! [slams door for the last time]
  • Expy:
    • Bobby Boucher shares a speech impediment (one which Sandler overcame himself), obsession with water, and a few personality traits with one of Sandler's Saturday Night Live characters, Canteen Boy. They could be the same character. He may have done some canteen jobs on the side.
    • Strangely, though, Bobby has no traits in common with Cajun Man, another of Sandler's characters.
    • Bobby also shares the same voice as The Excited Southerner, a character from Sandler's album What the Hell Happened To Me?.
    • Bobby seems to also be an extremely broad parody of Forrest Gump, a Southern mama's boy and manchild turned college football star.
    • Mama Boucher appears to be an expy of Margaret White from Carrie, until it's explained that her behavior was only an attempt to cope with her heartbreak.
    • The state-level Opposing Sports Team, called the Cougars here, appears to be a riff on the LSU Tigers.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Mama Boucher, until Bobby finds out from old letters that her first name is Helen.
  • Extreme Doormat: Bobby towards the beginning.
  • Eye Poke: Because "Captain Insano shows no mercy."
  • Fake Ultimate Sports Hero: Red Beaulieu's success as a coach is due to his stealing Coach Klein's playbook years ago to pass off as his own. He frustratedly flips through the pages when Coach Klein's starting to beat him with plays that aren't in the stolen playbook.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Farmer Fran's pierced nipples.
    • Ever wonder what Fonzie's ass looks like, 25 years after the fact? Now you know!
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Bobby and the Mud Dogs.
  • Foreshadowing: When Mama Boucher argues with Vicki Vallencourt after dinner, Mama says "Nobody's gonna take him away, especially not some godless Jezebel like you!". This sounds like yet another attempt to smother Bobby, but later on, she reveals that Bobby's father abandoned them to be with "a voodoo woman named Phyllis."
  • Foreign Queasine: Mama Boucher's meals, which include grilled alligators, "Louisiana frog cakes," and a huge snake.
  • For the Evulz: It's never really explained why the Cougars mercilessly tease and torment Bobby to begin with. The Mud Dogs' teasing of him is at least a little understandable (they're frustrated for having not won a game in more than four years and need somebody on which to take out their misery). But the Cougars and their coach seemingly abuse and torment Bobby for no real reason other than... because they're jerksnote .
  • The Fundamentalist/Fantasy Forbidding Mother: Mama Boucher.
  • Funny Background Event: Invoked by Mama at the Bourbon Bowl. When she realizes that she's on TV, behind Vicki (who is being interviewed by ABC), she breaks into dance, at one point doing a can-can and then performing the chicken dance.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Vicki is one as she was able to soup up Bobby's lawnmower to make it go faster than it's ever been. She later fixes up Mama Boucher's fanboat so they could make it to the Bourbon Bowl.
  • Generation Xerox: Apparently Bobby got his anger and ability to hit like a ton of bricks from his mother.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Mud Dogs football players taunt Bobby relentlessly about his love of water and his overall dorkiness in an attempt to make him angry (as all bullies do). They succeed. What they didn't realize is that this would unleash his inner "warrior" (as Klein put it), and earn Bobby a spot on the team, embarrassing and humbling the other players.
    Guy Grenouille: I don't want that ass on the team! Everybody's gonna laugh at us!
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot:
    Rita: Is there a girl you're seein'?
    Bobby: Seein'? Uh I see a lot of girls... I see a lot of guys too.
    Rita: I think that's sexy, you ever been with a guy and a girl at the same time?
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Coach Klein forged Bobby's school transcript so that he could play football, because he needs a player like Bobby as much as Bobby needs to play.
  • It Runs in the Family: At the film's end Bobby's dad finds out that Mama has her own little vault of pent up rage.
  • Jerkass: Coach Red and the whole Louisiana Cougars team. Also, most of Bobby's teammates, at first. Especially Guy.
  • Jerkass Façade: Mama Boucher isn't an Evil Matriarch; she's been pretending to be one due to the pain of her husband deserting her and Bobby, and was scared of Bobby deserting her too.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Coach Red Beaulieu, who tormented Bobby in his youth and stole the playbook from Coach Klein for his own purposes. So it's only natural the two of them would take him down in the end. To elaborate: he lost the Championship game to a farm team run by the coach he screwed over, who'd never won a game until they brought on the waterboy he'd fired earlier.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase/Running Gag: This trope is the devil!
  • Man Child: Bobby. Although it's mostly due to his mother.
  • Meaningful Name: The Cougars' roughest, most ruthless defensive player, who also happens to be a borderline sociopathic bully, is aptly named "Meaney."
  • Mook Horror Show: Bobby's reputation as a ruthlessly violent tackler invokes this trope in the eyes of the NCAA quarterbacks he faces.
  • My Beloved Smother: Though not without good reason.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
  • My Greatest Failure: Coach Klein regrets not standing up to Coach Red when he originally stole his playbook.
  • Never My Fault: Mama Boucher acts like this when Bobby has Vicki over for lunch and she humiliates him in front of her by telling one embarrassing story after another. Vicki attempts to subvert each one by claiming she doesn't mind all the things Mama says about Bobby... until she shows Vicki his bedsheet. It's covered in (presumably) urine. Vicki has no comeback.
    Bobby: Well, if you'll excuse me, ladies, I'm gonna go hang myself...
    [he hastily leaves, while Mama turns to Vicki]
    Mama: You see what you did?
    Vicki: [enraged] What I did?!
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: It would have been a lot harder for the Mud Dogs to pull off that game-winning play if the other team hadn't put them in field goal distance by dogpiling Bobby after the play, causing a huge mess of penalties. They didn't even know Bobby would be put in the offense, meaning that they didn't know it would potentially put a player out of the game. They just did it as payback. Bobby no-sold it anyway, thanks to "some high-quality H20."
    • If Coach Red had never fired Babby from being his team's water boy, he never would have been brought in by the much kinder Coach Klein and figured out how to channel his anger into being a defensive linebacker. The look of shock on Red's face when seeing how many sacks Bobby got in his first game says it all. The Mud Dogs winning the final game against Red would ultimately prove this tripe.
  • Not This One, That One: While looking through Mama's scrapbook, Bobby sees a picture of a young Mama with a hunky guy. When he asks if he was his father, Mama explains he was a guy she dated prior to meeting his father— "That was lust, not love." She turns to a picture of a dopey-looking man, saying "That's your daddy."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • "The Medulla Ob-Lon-Ga-Ta!" [beat as Bobby meekly sits back down]
    • "Gentlemen, this brings me to my next point: Don't. Smoke. Crack."
  • Ragin' Cajun: The "Cajun" part is way off, but is what they were going for, at least.
  • Salt the Earth: When Bobby arrives for the second half of the Bourbon Bowl Coach Red briefly attempts to not play offensive in an attempt to run out the clock.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Coach Klein, by his own admission, "cried like a ten-year-old girl!" after Coach Red revealed that Bobby's transcripts are a forgery. Getting screwed by Red a second time.
  • Serious Business: Water.
    Bobby: [after being sprayed with a hose by Meaney, who remarks that Bobby "could use a shower"] Listen... you can think what you want about my personal hygiene, but please don't waste any water! That's bad policy! If you wanna amuse yourself at my expense, just... rough me up or somethin'!
    Meaney: Fair enough! [does so]
  • Southern Gothic: A comedic example where the decay and depressing state of the world is used to highlight Bobby's cheerful and optimistic Demeanor.
  • Take Our Word for It: Lee Corso replays one of Bobby's prior tackles. We see only Bobby yelling, cutting away before the actual tackle, but apparently, it's too difficult for Lee to watch.
  • Thermal Dissonance
  • This Loser Is You: The Mud Dogs team before Bobby joined. Guy Grenouille is afraid that "everybody's gonna laugh at us," but Lyle Robideaux assures him that everybody's already laughing at them, since the Mud Dogs "ain't won a game since nineteen-ninety-fo'." Guy may have been afraid, however, that Bobby will make them even more of a laughingstock.
  • Those Two Guys: Walter and Paco
    Paco: Look at Bobby tackle. I haven't seen a tackle like that since Joe Montana.
    Walter: Joe Montana was a quarterback, you idiot.
    Paco: I said Joe Mantegna.
  • Time Marches On: Although the film is pinned to 1998, the line "We haven't won a game since 1994." still works, actually making the Muddogs look even more pathetic.
  • Unnecessary Roughness
  • The Unintelligible: Farmer Fran, who speaks with an incredibly thick Cajun accent.
    "We lib to play annundeh."
  • Unstoppable Rage: It's what makes Bobby such a valuable player. His anger issues make it possible for him to bulldoze guys much larger than himself.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Vicki.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Mama Boucher revealed the truth about his father: He left for New Orleans to make some money to support his family. But after two weeks, he "deserted" them to be with his two new loves: big city-livin' and a "voodoo woman named Phyllis." And changed his name to Roberto. She lied to him about his father because she was afraid Bobby would leave her too, thus the reason why she sheltered him all his life.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Coach Klein and Red Beaullieu used to be fellow assistant coaches at Louisiana State, until Red stole Klein's playbook to pass off as his own, firing him once he got the job.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Bobby mixes in wrestling moves at every available opportunity when tackling someone. The crowner has to be "Powerbomb, compliments of Captain Insano."
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Rita
    Rita: Is there a girl you're seein?
    Bobby: Seein'? Uh I see a lot of girls... I see a lot of guys too.
    Rita: I think that's sexy, you ever been with a guy and a girl at the same time?
  • Your Mom: In one game, Bobby wishes an opposing player good luck in the next play, but the player rudely tells him "I'll be playin' with yo mama tonight," making Bobby ominously mutter "62," his jersey's number. In the play, Bobby intercepts the ball, but idiotically gives it back to that player, who takes for a touchdown, beating the Mud Dogs. Though Bobby literally dropkicks him after he reaches the end zone. The logic behind Bobby's actions is that he knows that he's only allowed to tackle whichever player on the opposing team has the ball. He barely understands the concept of competition and wanting to win, so the fact that he cost his team the game meant nothing to him at the time, because he gained revenge on a player who talked bad about his mama.
    Bobby: [after dropkicking #62 and standing over his motionless body] I love my mama very much... now you know that.
    [camera cuts to players on the sideline walking off the field disappointed, with Coach Klein sitting with his head in his hands, crying his eyes out]