In the dire new Happy Madison movie Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, obligatory love interest Christina Ricci describes herself as “banished” to a chintzy little diner where her dreams of being a big-time waitress died an unmourned death. It’s easy to see the actress behind the role: Ricci’s part here represents a seemingly permanent banishment from the A-list. It’s less a performance than an enduring embarrassment. Bucky Larson can’t even get the “arbitrary” part of the “arbitrary love interest” right; to its detriment, the film takes Ricci’s dreams of being a glamorous waitress so seriously that it throws off the story’s balance. Ditto her romantic relationship with a gawky overgrown child (Nick Swardson, who also co-wrote) with grotesquely small genitalia. Apparently no one told Ricci she was acting in a comedy, not a touching drama about a young woman overcoming a formative trauma to achieve her dreams.
In a lead performance that answers questions of his viability as a cinematic leading man with a resounding, “Oh, hell no!”, Nick Swardson stars as a big-hearted Iowa misfit with buck teeth, a bowl haircut, and little ambition. His life is turned upside down when he discovers that his seemingly wholesome parents have a secret history as major porn stars of the 1970s. Filled with a delusional sense of destiny, Swardson attempts to make it in the porn industry, in spite of his microscopic cock, complete lack of sexual experience, and inability to understand movies, sex, life, the entertainment industry, the world around him, and language: He’s essentially a child in a man’s body, which lends an element of symbolic pedophilia to a romance that would already be creepy under the best of circumstances.
Is there a staler target for satire than the porn industry? Is there any humor left to be gleaned from describing X-rated acts in G-rated language? Bucky Larson suggests there isn’t, yet it plunges ahead all the same, powered by little more than co-writer and Happy Madison capo Adam Sandler, who stubbornly insists that silly accents and stupid haircuts are inherently funny. (See also: Little Nicky.) In true Happy Madison tradition, Bucky Larson undercuts the scatological slapstick shenanigans with a heaping helping of corn. It isn’t enough for us to laugh at Swardson: We’re asked to feel for him as well, without being given any reason to do so.