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Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2011)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/17/2012

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/17/2012

Watching Adam Sandler movies today makes me very sad. As I've mentioned before, I was there at the beginning -- me and some other guy were the only people in the theater seeing Billy Madison. Since then, Sandler's movies have declined in quality, reaching their nadir in 2010 with Grown Ups. While Sandler's movies have taken a nose-dive, there is one positive thing that you can say about the man -- he takes care of his friends. For years, Sandler has helped his various buddies get their movie projects off the ground. Now, these movies aren't any better than his, but his still shows his generosity. The latest result of this mixed blessing is Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.

Bucky Larson (Nick Swardson) is a goofy man-child who bags groceries and lives with his parents in Iowa. One day, his friends show him a "nude movie" and they immediately recognize and they immediately recognize Bucky's folks, Debbie (Miriam Flynn) and Jeremiah (Edward Herrmann). He approaches them and they admit to be adult films stars in the 70s. Bucky decides that his destiny to follow in his parent's footsteps and he takes a bus to Los Angeles. There, he meets Miles Deep (Don Johnson), a washed up porn director. Miles decides to do a screen test with Bucky and is horrified by his diminutive physical attributes. Assuming it's a lost cause, Miles allows the video to be uploaded to the internet, where it, and Bucky, become an overnight sensation. Bucky also meets a waitress named Kathy (Christina Ricci), and they become friends. Will success in the porn business ruin Bucky and drive him away from Kathy.

Poor Nick Swardson, it seems that no one can find a vehicle for him. For years, he's played sidekick and weirdos in a variety of movies, most from Sandler. He's been pretty funny in some of these roles, especially in Blades of Glory. He's also had some stand-up specials, which weren't great, but had some good jokes. In 2006, Swardson helmed a pilot for Comedy Central called Gay Robot, but the network didn't pick it up. This actually showed some promise, and it had some great lines. Comedy Central did come calling again in 2010 and gave Swardson a show called Pretend Time. I made it about halfway through the first episode. This, along with Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star tell me that Swardson shouldn't be allowed to star in something.

The screenplay for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is credited to Swardson, Sandler, and Allen Covert, whose been with Sandler since the beginning. These are three guys who have shown in the past that they know comedy, but they really miss the mark here. Normally, it feels like Sandler's films are aimed at 12-year old boys, but I don't know who this movie was made for. The movie is rated R, as it contains some nudity and multiple sex references. However, many of these references are immature euphemisms. In the beginning, I thought that this was simply a joke about Buckyís childish friends in Iowa. However, once he reaches Hollywood, the silly talk continues. Never before has a movie been so raunchy and so childish at the same time. The movie should have either avoided the topic all together or really pushed the envelope. Over the half the film has to do with Buckyís genitalia, but itís always kept off-screen. They could have easily done a shot similar to the ďfranks ín beansĒ take in Thereís Something About Mary.

Maturity level aside, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star simply isnít funny. But, it isnít for a lack of trying. The movie offers slapstick, one-liners, bawdy comedy, and jokes at Buckyís expense, but none of it sticks. This is one of those movies where you can see the joke and you understand why itís supposed to be funny, but it simply isnít. I laughed exactly twice in the movie, and one of those jokes was aimed at a celebrity and it bordered on being dated. The lack of true humor is further hackneyed by a device which is found in nearly every Sandler movie -- no matter how nusto the subject matter, Sandler always wants the movie to be sweet and have the protagonist have a heart of gold. At this point, this tactic is hackneyed and it really feels lame here. This is just one element of the story which feels lazy and predictable. Bucky wants to be in porn but doesnít know anything about it? Jealous people will try to stop Bucky? The whole movie is simply a premise stretched out to feature length. The only surprising thing about Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is the amount of familiar faces appearing here. Along with the aforementioned Christina Ricci, Edward Herrmann, and Don Johnson, we get Stephen Dorff and Sandler buddy Kevin Nealon. All of these people should know better, especially Ricci and Herrmann.

This would have made an interesting short on Funnyordie.com, but as a feature-length movie, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is a failure. The jokes fall flat and although the movie is about the porn industry, itís decidedly toothless. The characters are all stereotypes, the jokes are all predictable, and the gags about Buckyís huge teeth get old very fast. Perhaps Swardsonís next starring role will be a co-starring role.

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star tries to convince us that sex toys are funny on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing little grain and no defects from the source material. Director Tom Brady (who went to Harvard...think about that...) has shot the movie in a natural style -- the colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image has a nice amount of detail and the depth is nice. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely detailed, as they alert us to sounds off-screen. The surround sound effects come into play during party and crowd scenes. The music at a party Bucky attends brings the subwoofer into play.

The Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "Laughter is Contagious" is a 5-minute GAG REEL. "Behind the Teeth" (11 minutes) is a making-of featurette which contains interviews with the cast and filmmakers, as well as some on-set footage. They talk about having fun on the set, and we learn that Sandler said, "We gotta make that porn movie!", but we never learn this movie's raison d'etre. "Gary: Tough Customer" (4 minutes) profiles Kevin Nealon and we comments from the other actors on what it was like to work with him. "Bucky Sparkles" (2 minutes) examines the motivations behind the shooting of Bucky's first love scene.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long