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Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

2011 | 97 min | R | 1.85:1

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star


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Theatrical release date

 09 September, 2011
 13 May, 2011

Country of origin

 United States

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Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star


Screenshots from Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Blu-ray

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 10, 2011

After accepting an invitation to join the Adam Sandler Rodeo a few years back, obediently working a string of cameos and supporting roles for the superstar, comedian Nick Swardson graduates to leading man status with “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” (shot two years ago). After sitting through this dreadful, monumentally humorless picture, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this is going to be the last Nick Swardson starring role. He’s a fine stage comic (or at least was for a time in the mid-2000s), but his sleepy, sarcastic sense of humor has found considerable trouble translating successfully to television and film. In fact, considering how excruciating “Bucky Larson” is, I regret ever referring to it as a “sense of humor.” It’s now officially a lethal weapon.

A sheltered, uneducated boy from Iowa with pronounced front teeth, Bucky Larson (Nick Swardson) has received a strange pick-me-up gift from his pals after being fired from his grocery store job. Hoping to teach Bucky about masturbation, the gang accidentally screens an adult film from the 1970s starring Mr. (Edward Hermann) and Mrs. (Miriam Flynn) Larson. Inspired to join the family business, Bucky travels to Los Angeles to make it big in porn. Unfortunately, the large-toothed one has a microphallus problem, preventing him from working with the industry’s best. Sharing his hopes and dreams with waitress pal Kathy (Christina Ricci), Bucky strikes gold when director Miles Deep (Don Johnson) exploits the Iowan’s gift for sizable ejaculation, quickly making the fool an internet sensation. This sudden success enrages porn stud Dick Shadow (Stephen Dorff), who doesn’t understand why anyone would pay attention to a Midwestern goofball with a tiny penis.

Instead of his normal producing routine, Adam Sandler accepts a larger role with “Bucky Larson,” snatching a co-writing credit as well (with Allen Covert and Swardson), helping his buddy achieve a slice of industry success with his own filthy comedy. Keeping in mind Sandler’s taste in scripts in recent years (“Grown Ups,” “Just Go with It”) the utter failure of this feature is no surprise.

The gimmick of the movie is Bucky, a dim-witted, aw-shucks rube from Iowa (though the texture of the small town scenes is decidedly Minnesotan) with protruding teeth. He wields an immense Midwestern accent and carries himself cheerfully in homemade sweaters, unaware or undisturbed by those who seek to humiliate him. To the film’s credit, the material is rarely mean. Bucky is such a friendly guy, there’s never a moment where the script rips the character apart. In fact, Swardson seems to adore the bright side of Bucky, broadly playing up the aspiring porn king’s can-do attitude and gregarious demeanor. He’s an idiot but a sweet guy, eager to please.

Just because “Bucky Larson” is happy doesn’t mean it’s funny. It’s absolutely shocking to witness just how badly this movie whiffs every joke or marches gleefully into hackneyed porn industry satire (Dorff is brutal here as wizened superstar celebrating his large package). There’s actually nothing even remotely funny about “Bucky Larson,” not a titter or smile to be found for 100 minutes. The movie essentially works the same Bucky jokes over and over, beating his chipper innocence into the ground, while employing the likes of Kevin Nealon to help introduce some feeble absurdity, here playing Bucky’s abusive apartment roommate who was once stiffed on rent by John Mayer. When the oddity fails, director Tom Brady (who probably should’ve taken his name off the film) pipes in fart noises for no reason, or provides extreme close-ups of Bucky’s semen explosions -- ropes of white goo found hanging from the ceiling or splattered on an elderly woman’s sweater. Because why not. Nothing else in this dreary bomb is working. Gross-outs are a sure thing.

As if the script wasn’t lazy enough, it introduces a romantic element between Bucky and Kathy (Ricci is as wooden as ever here), using the vile break-up-to-make-up formula to turn a slapstick bonanza about a buck-toothed clown with a small penis and a large reservoir of sperm into a tender romantic comedy. Dear readers, save this precious title for Valentine’s Day, you won’t regret it.

It’s bizarre to watch pros like Herrmann and Johnson working so hard to sell these deadly jokes, but I suppose we all have bills to pay. It’s disappointing to see that this is the best Swardson could come up with for his debut as a leading man. Not that I expected better, but I expected something. Instead, there’s barely anything but predictable punchlines and nauseating sight gags.

Starring: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Jonathan Loughran, Kevin Nealon, Edward Herrmann
Director: Tom Brady

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