Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star: Film Review

Columbia Pictures
More likely to be a footnote to Adam Sandler’s producing career.

Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci and Don Johnson star in the Adam Sandler-produced comedy about a man who yearns to be a porn star.

It’s telling when Adam Sandler produces a movie but doesn’t cast himself in the leading role. The latest effort from the comedy auteur stars his frequent cohort Nick Swardson as a buck-toothed, under-endowed Iowan farm boy who journeys to Hollywood to become a porn star. Unfortunately, the R rating will prohibit the target audience -- namely teenage boys who find penis jokes endlessly hilarious — from seeing this relentlessly unfunny and vulgar effort until it shows up on video and cable.

Not surprisingly, the distributor declined to screen the film in advance for critics.

Bucky is a hapless grocery store bag boy who discovers during a masturbation lesson conducted by his helpful friends that his loving parents (Edward Herrmann, Miriam Flynn) are actually former porn stars from the ‘70s. Determined to follow in their footsteps, he boards a bus for Los Angeles and eventually finds his way to the Valley, where he manages to land an audition with washed-up adult film director Miles Deep (Don Johnson, doing a relaxed comic riff on Burt Reynold’s character in Boogie Nights). 

Although Bucky is, as one character puts it, “hung like a ladybug,” he displays a singular talent for immediate and explosive, uh, appreciation for his female co-stars, who he never gets close to actually touching.

That, along with his ability to make average-sized men feel better about themselves by comparison, soon makes him an Internet sensation and the hottest, if certainly not the biggest, porn star in the business.

Featuring endless jokes about the lead character’s humungous molars and enough spraying semen on display to make the famous “hair gel” scene from There’s Something About Mary seem quaint, the film -- co-written by Sandler, Swardson and Allen Covert — is about as funny as the typical scribbling on a public bathroom stall.

Although Swardson certainly commits himself to the proceedings, it’s unlikely that his performance here will make the film’s title prophetic. Among the supporting players whose talents are wasted are Christina Ricci, highly appealing as a sweet waitress who takes an unaccountable shine to Bucky; Kevin Nealon, trapped in a one-note role as Bucky’s perpetually aggrieved roommate; and Stephen Dorff, as a rival porn star. The latter at least gets to deliver the film’s single memorable line, when he declares that “nothing grows in my cock shadow.”

Opened: Sept. 9 (Columbia Pictures)
Production: Happy Madison Productions
Cast: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Edward Herrmann, Kevin Nealon, Don Johnson, Stephen Dorff
Director: Tom Brady
Screenwriters: Adam Sandler, Wllen Covert, Nick Swardson
Producers: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Allen Covert, Nick Swardson, David Dorfman
Director of photography: Michael Barrett
Editor: Jason Gourson
Production designer: Dina Lipton
Music: Waddy Wachtel
Costume designer: Mary Jane Fort
Rated R, 99 mins.