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Film / The Waterboy

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"Now that's some high-quality H2O."
Bobby Boucher, after being rejuvenated by his trademark favorite beverage

The Waterboy is a 1998 comedy film directed: by Frank Coraci, starring Adam Sandler and Henry Winkler.

Sandler plays Bobby Boucher (pronounced "Boo-SHAY"), a socially inept (but also intelligent), stuttering waterboy for a college football team. Bobby deals 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 Coach Klein (Winkler) and the rest of the team.

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

  • Accidental Athlete: Bobby is a meek, unassuming "water distribution engineer" who has no interest in even watching football, let alone playing it. When the quarterback for the team he works for makes fun of him, he sprints across the field and blasts him with a pretty good, fundamentally sound football tackle. Coach Klein, who was partially responsible for Bobby's newfound aggression (telling him to stand up for himself), immediately inserts Bobby into a linebacker position on the team, to brilliant and almost instant success.
  • Actor Allusion: Vicki Vallencourt is into astrology, and at one point, Mama Boucher says to Bobby "come on inside before that little ol' witch cast a spell on you." Fairuza Balk, who plays Vicki, played a witch who'd cast spells in The Craft.
  • 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, in an attempt to drive her away from Bobby, as she wants her son all to herself. Mama attempts to embarrass Bobby by telling Vicki that his feet stink, he wears kiddy pajamas, and that he relentlessly pisses the bed.
  • Anything but That!: Bobby takes one look at the old water bucket of the South Central Louisiana University football team (which has become what could be charitably labeled a mini-swamp from disuse) and tells Klein he will be the team waterboy for free on the condition he never gives that water to any human being.
  • Apologetic Attacker: When Bobby first displays his ability to tackle, he blasts the SCLSU starting quarterback during a practice play, and later, as an official member of the team, does the same to one of the team's receivers. Both times, he immediately apologizes to the player in question.
    Bobby: I didn't mean to hurt ya. Coach told me to pretend.
  • 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. In fact, Bobby's answer is more correct than the other. Infected/damaged teeth and gums are one of the primary reasons for some predators to become more aggressive and developing man-eating behavior. Furthermore, the premise that alligators are unusually aggressive is false. In fact, among large crocodilians, alligators are comparatively docile.
  • 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.
    • After it's discovered that the coach forged Bobby Boucher's high-school transcript to get him on the team, making him an ineligible player, the NCAA allows Bobby to still play in the team's bowl game if he passes a high school equivalency exam. In reality, not only would the NCAA not allow that, the whole team would have been forbidden to play in the game, would have had to forfeit back all its wins on the season and probably would have been banned from future bowl games and lost several scholarships for a few years.
  • As Himself: Every time an NFL or NCAA football personality (whether it be player, coach, or commentator) that exists in real life appears, they are played by the actual person, including (but not limited to) Lynn Swann, Dan Fouts, and Lawrence Taylor.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the opening, when he sees Meaney attacking Bobby, Red Beaulieu turns to an assistant coach and says "Didn't I tell you as plain as I could speak to get rid of his ass last year?". But it isn't Meaney he's upset with, it's Bobby, telling him "You're fired!".
  • Bald of Evil: Greg Meaney has a shaved head. And is just as much of an asshole as his name implies.
  • Berserk Button: The tagline in the poster above says it all. And give insulting his mother a try. Go on.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: "Stop makin' fun of me".
  • Big Game: The Bourbon Bowl, which sees the Mud Dogs facing off against the Cougars.
  • Big "NO!": After imagining his old coach berating him, he delivers this word to Casey before tackling him.
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    Dan Fouts: Shut up, Brent!
  • Bilingual Bonus: Guy (pronounced "Gee") Grenouille's last name is French for "Frog."
  • 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. After a few false starts he is shown to have little trouble with a college curriculum and get a near-perfect result on his GED exam.
  • 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.
    • In his first game, after the Mud Dogs score a touchdown, Bobby tries to get a high-five from his teammates, saying "Slap hands?", but he gets ignored is and left standing alone in the end zone. At the Bourbon Bowl, when they finally get a touchdown after being devastated during the first half, Bobby says "Slap hands?", and he gets some high-fives and then some. Bobby has gone from being ignored and alone to beloved and the entire defense celebrating with Bobby.
  • Broken Pedestal: Subverted. Despite Captain Insano laughing his ass off at Bobby for asking to be his water boy, Bobby claims that Captain Insano is still his favorite wrestler. He even uses his Powerbomb move on Meaney.
  • 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, but eventually he got tired of it and fights back.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Calling Mama out, actually. Bobby has 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.
    • The Big Show as Captain Insano
  • Captain Ersatz: If you didn't notice the professor strongly resembled Colonel Sanders, Bobby points it out.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "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 comes in handy after Bobby is dogpilled by the Cougars.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Bobby and Vicky have known each other since childhood, and continue seeing each other as adults. At the end of the film, they get married.
  • 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]
  • Composite Character: The character of Bobby Boucher shares character tics with two of Sandler's characters on Saturday Night Live. Boucher seems to be a combination of Canteen Boy's lisp, Woobie status and child-like naivety with Cajun Man's origin and a less exaggerated version of his accent.
  • 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.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Happens twice to Beaulieu. First, he fires Bobby as the official water boy of the UL Cougars. Then it's revealed that years earlier, when the head coach of the UL Cougars retired, both Klein and Beaulieu applied for the position, with Klein creating a playbook that would help secure his bid. Beaulieu bullied Klein into handing over the playbook, and claimed it as his own, making him head coach, and fired Klein on the spot. When Bobby starts working for the Mud Dogs he and coach Klein discover that Bobby's repressed anger turns him into a star athlete, which leads them facing off against Beaulieu and the Cougars, and ultimately winning the Bourbon Bowl.
  • Creative Sterility: Ever since Red Beaulieu stole his playbook and passed it off as his own, Coach Klein has struggled to think up new plays as inspired and innovative as those in the book until Bobby helps him face his fears. This shows Red's own inability to come up with new plays to counter Klein's as he stymied by the fact they're not in the playbook.
  • 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.
  • Cutaway Gag: Klein worried that the team is messed up since Farmer Fran's involvement. Cut to Farmer Fran, the cheerleaders and the mascot in the midst of a wild, drunken party.
    Klein: We better get going. God knows what the team is doing with just Farmer Fran watching them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It may be tough to see it under the speech impediment and general timidity at first, but Bobby is definitely one.
    [Bobby reads a note from the Suggestion Box that says "Eat shit and kill yourself!"]
    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. 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] You want a beer?
    Bobby: I'll take 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).
  • Dirty Coward: Red shamelessly revealed Bobby's fake transcript just so he would not have to face him in the Bourbon Bowl. Which then becomes All for Nothing as Bobby still entered the game and beats Red.
  • 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.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Bobby was abused by the Cougars for years and had no choice but to just stand there and take it. The Mud Dogs finally push him too far, and this leads to him standing up for himself by brutally tackling those who insult him. Especially tackling Meaney in the Bourbon Bowl, who definitely had it coming after years of tormenting Bobby for fun.
    • Coach Klein was intimidated and screwed over by Red to be coaching a farm team, but thanks to Bobby's advise, he no longer sees Red as someone scary and came up with new creative plays that totally catches Red off guard and defeats him in the most heartbreaking way possible.
  • Don't Tell Mama: After "Momma" Boucher tells Coach Klein she forbids Bobby from playing "the foosball" over dinner and goes into her room, Coach Klein gets up to leave:
    Coach Klein: You know Bobby, when I was your age, my mother wouldn't let me get a tattoo of Roy Orbison. "What mama don't know won't hurt her." (Pulls his pants down, and shows the tattoo on his butt cheek) I trust you'll make the right decision.
  • 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]
  • Down to the Last Play: The Bourbon Bowl's last play starts with the Mud Dogs losing 27-24. However, Bobby and the Mud Dogs execute a flea flicker play, with Bobby throwing the ball right before the clock hits 0:00. Guy catches Bobby's pass, and the Mud Dogs win, 30-27.
  • The Dreaded: Over the course of just a handful of games, Bobby Boucher's rage-fueled tackles and their subsequent devastating results have become the stuff of horror legend. Opposing players (especially quarterbacks) visibly quake in fear of facing him.
    Mama Boucher [as one of Bobby's hallucinations]: I forbid you to see that enchantress- she's the DEVIL!
    Bobby: She's not the devil! She's the most beautiful woman in the world!
    Opposing Quarterback: I never SAID she was the Devil!
    Bobby: She's the most beautiful woman in the world!
    Opposing Quarterback: Oh, please don't hurt me!
  • Dumbass No More: Bobby in terms of academics. When Bobby went to his first biology class, he just regurgitated the "facts" that Mama fed him through the years, earning him some public humiliation in class. However, in a Montage later in the movie, he's seen giving a very detailed presentation about how protein molecules work.
  • 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; Bobby 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: When Coach Klein is trying to unleash Bobby's physical prowess, he tells him attack one of his players like Bobby's favorite wrestler, Bobby pokes the player in the eye.
    Casey: He poked me in the eye!
    Bobby: [deadpan] Captain Insano shows no mercy.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Red Beaulieu's success as a coach is due to him stealing Coach Klein's playbook years ago to pass off as his own. In the championship game, he is caught off guard and frustratingly flips through the pages when Coach Klein starts to beat him with new creative plays that aren't in the stolen playbook to the point he throws the stolen playbook to the ground in anger and actually is unable to come up with anything original of his own.
  • 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" while she was still pregnant with Bobby
    • When he sees Bobby getting bullied by the Mud Dogs, coach Klein tells him to stand up for himself, or "they'll walk all over you the rest of the season. Believe me, I've seen it before." Later in the movie, it's revealed that having failed to stand up for himself resulted in coach Beaulieu stealing Klein's secret playbook, and then having Beaulieu take the head coaching position at the University of Louisiana, and firing Klein on the spot.
  • Foreign Queasine: Mama Boucher's meals, which include grilled alligators, "Louisiana frog cakes," and a huge snake.
    • Not to mention bug-zappered squirrel for dessert.
  • 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 jerks and they can. Never mind that Bobby is the guy who's not only keeping them hydrated but probably preventing them from dying of heat stroke during Coach Red's obviously grueling football practices.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bobby's interest in water started because Mama Boucher told him his father joined the Peace Corps, got lost in the Sahara Desert and died from dehydration.
    • After Mama Boucher falls ills and lies in the hospital, she overhears the town telling Bobby how much it means to them that he's part of the football team, but he refuses their gratitude. The next morning, Mama shows Bobby an album with a picture of his father, and several letters that show he ran off out on them while she was pregnant with Bobby. She explains to Bobby that she was so afraid of ending up alone that she made it her mission to make him so afraid of the world so that he wouldn't go out on his own and abandon her as well, and admits to faking an illness in order to keep him by her side.
  • Full-Name Basis: Bobby tends to call everybody by their full name, and sometimes their title, too.
  • 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'? [looks around at all the women (and men) in the party] 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?
  • Hate Sink: It's very easy to despise Coach Red and his Cougar Team for the assholes they are. The players relentlessly bully Bobby despite the fact that he does nothing but keep them hydrated and stay to himself, and Red fires Bobby for "disrupting his team"; in other words, being the target of the aforementioned bullying through no fault of his own. It's no surprise that it's a joy to see them ended up being embarrassed and defeated by the guy they tormented in the Bourbon Bowl.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: 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.
  • High-Five Left Hanging: Bobby doesn't get any respect from the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits he plays with at first. After the Mud Dogs score a touchdown, Bobby asks them to "slap hands!", to which they just walk away, leaving him hanging. Later in the film, during the Bourbon Bowl, Bobby gets his "slap hands" as the Mud Dogs start mounting their comeback.
  • Hollywood Autism: This is presumably Bobby's condition - he seems dimwitted and socially inept, but knows everything there is to know about water. He's also smart enough to pass a high school equivalency test with minimal studying.
  • Hypocrite: Lyle Robideaux calls Bobby a retard during the first game. Robideaux is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer himself.
  • 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.
  • The Ingenue: Bobby, largely due to My Beloved Smother's constant babying.
  • 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.
  • It's Personal: The opposing players who incur Bobby's wrath typically do so just by playing offense on the other team. For example, one player early in the film pushes Bobby's Berserk Button and pays for it:
    Bobby: Best of luck to ya on the upcoming play.
    Opposing player: I'll be playing with yo mama tonight.
    Bobby: [grimly noting the player's jersey number as his smile turns to a scowl] Sixty-two...
    • The championship Bourbon Bowl game is this for Bobby and Coach Klein towards Coach Red and his Cougars as the former two were wronged by Red specifically.
  • Jerkass: Coach Red and the whole Louisiana Cougars team. Also, the Mud Dogs (sans Derek) at first. Especially Guy.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Red Beaulieu not only publicly reveals that Bobby's high school transcripts had been faked, he does so to the whole Mud Dog community, who immediately shun Bobby. Thing is while it is very cruel thing for Red to do, he is not actually that wrong since Bobby has never been to school or college in his whole life and is just a newly hired water boy who recently became a player for the Mud Dogs.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Bobby's mother tells him absurd lies about the world, such as the fact that she, not Ben Franklin, invented electricity (never mind the fact that electricity wasn't invented, it was discovered), and that "happiness is from magic rays of sunshine that come down when you're feelin' blue." This turns out to be part of her facade: she's Obfuscating Stupidity and pretends to be a jerk.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Coach Red Beaulieu, who is a rather unpleasant scumbag of a coach that tormented Bobby by revealing his fake transcripts and stole the playbook from Coach Klein for his own selfish purposes. Naturally, the two of them would take him down in the end together and humiliate him in the process resulting in his perfect season being ruined as well. To elaborate: Red 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.
    • Meaney, who bullied Bobby throughout the movie, receives a brutal powerbomb tackle in the Championship game by the very victim he tormented and gets the shit knocked out of him.
    • Roberto Boucher, Sr., who left Helen and a yet-to-be-born Bobby for New Orleans to find work over thirty years prior, but abandoned them weeks later for another woman and life in the big city. In the present day, he appears at Bobby's wedding after learning of his son's fame as a college football player and possibility of going pro, and tries to convince him to forego school and declare for the NFL draft in the hopes of profiting off his success. This earns the greedy deadbeat a hard and well-deserved tackle from Helen, thirty years in the making.
  • Last-Name Basis: Coach Klein's first name is never revealed.
  • Leitmotif: Mama Boucher is often accompanied by, ironically enough, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band.
  • Loveable Rogue: Vicki is a petty thief and Violently Protective Girlfriend, but still basically a good person.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: This trope is the devil!
  • Manchild: 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.
  • My Nayme Is: Bobby's love interest spells her name "Vicki" as opposed to the more standard "Vicky."
  • 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 Cougars hadn't put them in field goal distance by dogpiling Bobby after the play, causing a huge mess of penalties. To be fair 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, but too bad for them is that Bobby no-sold it anyway, thanks to "some high-quality H20."
    • If Coach Red had never fired Bobby 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 trope as his total undoing.
  • Nice to the Waiter: In one game, Bobby takes a time-out to give the referee a glass of water.
  • Noodle Incident: Right after Bobby finishes taking his test and meets Vicki, a cop car drives up, and Vicki tells Bobby "I was with you from two to four last night, you tell them." It turns out the cop isn't looking for her in the first place, and we never learn what she was alluding to.
  • 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."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Helen "Mama" Boucher.
  • 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. Klein counters it.
  • 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: Bobby takes water very seriously.
    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]
  • Shout-Out: University of Louisiana coach Red Beaulieu could be named after Elvis Presley's longtime friend and "Memphis Mafia" member Red West and Elvis' ex-wife Priscilla, whose maiden name is Beaulieu. It helps that he's played by country music legend Jerry Reed, who wrote songs for, and collaborated frequently with Elvis in the latter half of his career.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: 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.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The Mud Dogs from the small, run-down South Central Louisiana State University versus the Cougars from the large, top-tier University of Louisiana. The Mud Dogs won.
  • Southern Gothic: A comedic example where the decay and depressing state of the world is used to highlight Bobby's cheerful and optimistic demeanor.
  • Stage Parent: Bobby's dad tries to be this, but is tacked by his ex-wife Helen
  • 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: Bobby has a vial of glacier water that always stays cold.
  • 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: Waterboy's killin' 'em! Best tackler I've seen since Joe Montana.
    Walter: Joe Montana was a quarterback, you idiot.
    Paco: I said Joe Mantegna.
  • Token Good Teammate: Derek Wallace is the only Mud Dog player to be friendly with Bobby upon meeting him, in contrast to the other players who start out as jerkasses to Bobby.
    • Red's assistant coach Laski seems to be this for the Cougars. When Red points out that he told Laski to fire Bobby last year, he didn't, thinking Red wasn't really serious and pointing out that he does his job well, but Red focuses his anger on the fact that Bobby "distracts" his football team.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Once Bobby joins the Mud Dogs football team, he starts becoming a great player and grows a spine to stand up to anyone especially to the ones who abused him.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Bobby's mom as she realized how much she is hurting her son Bobby and becomes more supportive of him playing for his football team in the championship game.
  • Training from Hell: Red Beaulieu's coaching as seen at the beginning of the film. A player runs past him at damn-near Flash speeds. Red tells Laski to "Cut his ass."
  • Underestimating Badassery: When Meaney gets in as full back, he made the foolish mistake in thinking he can run over Bobby, the guy he picked on, only to be met with strong power bomb tackle by his former victim.
  • Unintelligible Accent: Farmer Fran, who speaks with an incredibly thick Cajun accent.
    "We lib a play annundeh."
  • Unnecessary Roughness: The cougars dog-piling Bobby at the Bourbon Bowl, which got them a penalty. Bobby also does this quite frequently.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Coach Red starts to lose his cool and becomes frantic when Coach Klein starts making his own creative plays, all of which catches Red off-guard. As the tide of the game starts turning around in the Mud Dogs' favor, Coach Red eventually instructs his players to make dirty hits and cheap shots just to take Bobby out of the picture. None of it works, and the Mud Dogs still win the game, causing Coach Red to collapse on his knees and cry like a huge baby. In the censored version of the game-winning catch, Coach Red even starts strangling the mascot.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Vicki holds up a sign asking Bobby if he wants her to kill the people conducting his high school equivalency exam. Bobby just shakes his head.
  • Warts and All: Bobby regards Captain Insano as his all-time favorite wrestler, despite him acting "slightly discourteously" to him recently over a phone call to a live wrestling show.
  • 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 six 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 as new head coach. Klein would end up paying Red for his "kindness" in the Bourbon Bowl.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bobby criticizes Coach Klein for not just forging a high school transcript without informing him, but leaving him behind when Red Beaulieu exposed the whole thing.
  • 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." against his tormentor Meaney.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Rita.
    Rita: Is there a girl you're seeing?
    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]


Video Example(s):


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He spit in the c-c-c-coolah.

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