Nick Swardson is the latest comic reclamation project to come out of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. He’s been given a star vehicle, “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star,” a comedy about a farm country dimwit who discovers his parents were once porn stars, and takes the bus to Los Angeles to follow in their, um, footsteps.
Two things about that. First, the concept, and the movie that comes from it aren’t funny. And second, Swardson wasn’t any more born to be a star than his character.
As a beaver-toothed, bowl-cut wearing doofus, Swardson rarely manages to find laughs in this virgin who knows nothing of the world, the movies or porn, but who prematurely finds his way to the top, despite his inexperience and physical, um, shortcomings.
Bucky is a fish out of water in LA, terrorized by his roommate (Kevin Nealon, not that funny), charmed by the perky waitress (Christina Ricci, making the best of things), humiliated by a “real” porn star, Dick Shadow (ahem), played by Stephen Dorff.
Then Bucky is accidentally discovered by has-been director Miles Deep (ahem), played by Don Johnson. Bucky’s inadequacies made him a viral video sensation, and that leads to fame and porno fortune.
Swardson pushes Bucky’s Midwestern twang to infinity and beyond, all Iowa “You betchas,” and his parents’ pet phrase, “Get right outta town!” I like the way Edward Hermann and Miriam Flynn milk the accents as his parents. Bucky thanks mom for his haircut.
“Dooooon’t thank me,” she coos. “Thank the bowl!”
Even though the tone has been set in the opening credits — a local farmer arranging a sexual encounter with a farm animal — the script tries to wring simpler, sweeter laughs out of malapropisms and misunderstandings.
“I was afraid you had a mac and cheese fetish.”
“Oh no. I never use feta. Only cheddar.”
The sight gag of his buck teeth — walrus and beaver “wood chopper” jokes — fails utterly. And the running gag of people’s reactions to his man parts — “Did he lose it in a hunting accident?” — will only earn snickering from 14 year-old boys who sneak into the theater.
It’s an ugly movie to look at and a faintly nauseating one to sit through, truth be told. And Swardson, who co-wrote the script with Sandler and others, fails to find a way to rise above material he should have been embarrassed to concoct for himself.
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive crude sexual content, language and some nudity
Cast: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Kevin Nealon, Stephen Dorff, Edward Hermann, Miriam Flynn
Credits: Directed by Tom Brady, written by Nick Swardson, Allen Covert and Adam Sandler. A Columbia Pictures release. Running time: 1:34