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Movie review: 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star'

Nick Swardson plays a rube from Iowa trying to become a porn star. Unfunny sexual euphemisms abound, making for a lazy, R-rated comedy.

September 10, 2011|By Robert Abele, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Nick Swardson and Christina Ricci star in "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star."
Nick Swardson and Christina Ricci star in "Bucky Larson: Born to Be… (John Ales, Columbia TriStar )

"Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" is another dispiriting batch of comedy runoff from Adam Sandler's busy second- and third-banana factory at his Happy Madison shingle. This time the sputtering spotlight gets thrown on chipmunk-cheeked comedian Nick Swardson, last seen doing his signature naughty-cherub thing for Sandler in the romantic comedy "Just Go With It."

Here he's a weirdo rube from Iowa with a bowl cut, buckteeth and a dream of becoming a porn star in Hollywood. For Swardson and co-writers Sandler and Allen Covert, the scenario makes for an inept, lazy R-rated movie whose sole purpose is as a glossary of euphemisms for genitalia and sexual acts.

As is usually the case with Sandler-universe output, the (attempts at) humor stem from extremes of naiveté or hostility, sweetness or filth. So for every instance in which Edward Herrmann and Miriam Flynn give aw-shucks performances as Bucky's parents — '70s-era adult film icons whose stardom Bucky accidentally discovers and becomes inspired by — there are crass, loud and resolutely unfunny figures like Don Johnson's aging, bitter porn director, Stephen Dorff's angry, threatened porn star or Kevin Nealon's mean, petty roommate.

The central conceit, meanwhile, is a goof on "Boogie Nights," in that Bucky hits it big in spite of his micro-endowment, because he makes average Joes feel good about their own sex lives with size-obsessed wives and girlfriends. That's about as charitable as "Bucky Larson" gets toward women, incidentally, and that includes the notion that a friendly, attractive coffee shop waitress (Christina Ricci) would have anything to do in her off-hours with Swardson's abrasively awkward loon.

Funny raunch is hard work, a deceptive mixture of ingenious situations and well-timed shock. That puts "Bucky Larson" — in which cutaways to biological fluids are the height of raucousness — on the labor scale somewhere between disinterested wage slave and do-nothing temp.

Swardson seems to believe his laugh-getting duties ended at the wig-and-denture stage, save the occasional spasmodic mugging, while director Tom Brady — once part of the Rob Schneider Tolerance Project ("The Animal") — shows little interest in bringing any more comic verve or visual appeal than a homemade YouTube video would.

This is ribbing for no one's pleasure.

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