I saw Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star last night at the 12:01 show, and of the eight person audience, two people walked out early. I promise you, it’s not that bad. I would, however, like to make a point to mention how much I absolutely love Nick Swardson. He is a monster stand-up, kills it in every peripheral acting role I’ve ever seen, and should, as far as I’m concerned, be right this moment soaking in a champagne hot tub surrounded by beautiful people of whichever gender he prefers. Sadly, and as much as I don’t want to acknowledge it, Bucky is not going to help that (very specific) dream come true any time soon.
The film starts out with a bang: Bucky’s friends coach him, a grown man living in Iowa, which is in America, on how to jack off for the first time. Suddenly, they realize that the porno they’re circle-jerking it to stars Bucky’s gee-whiz corn-fed parents. So far, so good! Bucky immediately latches onto the idea of stardom and journeys to California to make his porn star dreams come true. Lucky, his tiny mouse-sized penis and hair-trigger orgasms make Bucky at first a laughing stock, then a bonerfied internet porn sensation. Larson’s load is so unpredictable, in fact, that it is constantly splattering across shoes, ice cream cones, and, at one point, an old lady’s shirt. “I’m going to send you the dry cleaning bill,” the old lady sniffs. “For this bird poop on my blouse.” Sure, why not? If I had to compare Bucky to another film, I’d say it starts out kind of like Little Nicky, if the Little Nicky repeatedly and spastically ejaculated into the air throughout the entire movie.
Which sort of speaks to why the movie doesn’t really work. The film’s main problem is not the amount of ejaculate spewed over various surfaces and bystanders. The problem is…well, it’s that Bucky feels like an Adam Sandler movie that Sandler didn’t want to star in. Both Sandler and Swardson had a hand in writing the screenplay, so as far as I know, this could literally be the case. Like Sandler’s Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy, Bucky is a sweet, pure-hearted, vaguely mentally disabled country boy trying to live his dream. Unlike Bobby Boucher, Bucky’s main character couldn’t be more excited to get his miniscule dick out and start jizzing on everything West of the Rockies. Can we empathize and care about have a protagonist if he happens to be a naive innocent, so much so that several characters ask “Is he retarded?,” yet who screams like an injured chimp as he comes again and again in his quest for skin flick fame? Of course! Of course this combination might have worked in another film. As it stands, however, pairing Swardson’s bizarre charisma with the Sandler template and addict gallons of semen seems to hold everyone back, when it should be helping Swardson go wild.
If you’ll indulge me, and you will since you’ve already read this far down, I’d like to bring up another of Swardson’s characters, Reno 911’s Terry, as an example of what Swardson’s perfect sexual deviant/idiot character looks like. Clearly, Swardson shouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life channeling Terry, though if I were God I would make it so, forever and ever, amen. Reno’s Terry, if you recall, was an aggressively stupid compulsive liar, who also drastically undervalues the monetary worth of his tug jobs. Terry was also sneaky, clever and most importantly, clearly having a great time, all the time. Much like the long legacy of self-confident, practically deformed comedic cretins before him (Jerry Blank and Dumb and Dumber’s Lloyd immediately leap to mind), Terry proves the single most important rule of playing dumb: if you’re going to be an idiot, be a fabulous idiot. Bucky is just too earnest and slow to be fabulous, or to be much of anything, really.
Not that the movie doesn’t have some great moments. Kevin Nealon is straight-up amazing in his role as Bucky’s deeply angry pervert of a roommate. A scene that has him accusing Bucky of eating exactly one of his green grapes is the biggest genuine laugh in the film. Stephen Dorff also brings it home as Dick Shadow, Bucky’s brooding porn industry rival. Christine Ricci as Bucky’s sugary-as-pie love interest, however, is just another example of how the movie should have just gone crazy or go home. Why would a normal human woman like Ricci be interested in Bucky, what with his Dutch boy hair cut and gigantic beaver toofs and borderline mental retardation? It’s ostensibly because he’s just so pure and sweet, but might it not be funnier and more fitting if it’s because she has a Downs syndrome fetish? Or because she herself has a microvagina, thus suggesting that the fates have aligned to bring their wee genitals together?
Look, Nick Swardson is going to star in a comedy that uses his manic weirdo energy to its maximum potential, on roller skates or otherwise, and it’s going to happen soon. I know it, I feel it, I cut it out and put it on my vision board. Bucky is not that movie, unfortunately. May his next attempt be in his authentic nutso voice, and without those god-awful buck teeth.