REVIEW: Limp, Clueless Bucky Larson is No Bright Shining Star
It's not like Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star aspires to be Citizen Kane, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail or even Wedding Crashers. All it wants to be is a silly, raunchy comedy about the rise of an extremely unlikely adult-film actor. That it fails so spectacularly in this regard makes it almost something special -- not only is Bucky Larson incredibly unfunny, it's also squeamish in a manner that makes you wonder if either writers Adam Sandler (who produced the film via his Happy Madison company), Allen Covert and Nick Swardson (who plays Bucky) have somehow never actually seen porn, or if they subcontracted the script out to a group of 8-year-olds with only the vaguest idea of what it entails. The latter would explain how incidental sex is to what's theoretically a movie all about it, from an early scene in which we learn that our hero has never masturbated or even heard of the concept, to the porn career he establishes, in which he never actually comes into contact with his costars.
In fact, what makes Bucky the star he was apparently born to become is the fact that not only does he come up nonthreateningly short down below, he has so little experience and control that the mere sight of breasts sends him into a seizure-like climax in which he gets fluids all over the room, including the ceiling. This proves reassuring to men, and somehow makes their women appreciate what they have in comparison. How removed this is from what people usually watch porn for is left undiscussed except by Stephen Dorff, who plays Bucky's arrogant and better endowed rival Dick Shadow, and who insists that "porn is for fantasizing about the dick you wish you had," which doesn't sound right either.
That Bucky Larson's humor is stuck at a toilet-centric grade-school level is less damning than how little of that or any humor it contains -- the film, directed by Tom Brady (The Hot Chick), sets up scene after scene that wanders around in the general vicinity of a joke idea without ever approaching anything like a punchline, often involving interminable exchanges about Bucky's ignorance about everything. "Do you have a headshot?" asks a casting director at an audition. "Like a shot of my head, or what?" Bucky replies. Hah... hah? "I thought you had some weird kind of mac and cheese fetish," notes someone else after the tryout goes terribly wrong. "Oh, I don't use fetish cheese, I use Velveeta." Bucky answers. What does that even mean?
Bucky Larson may be awful, but it's also awfully familiar, like a patchwork of bits lifted from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Orgazmo and various Farrelly brothers and Sandler movies with all the actual funniness left behind. Even Bucky himself seems derivative and half-formed -- he's supposed to be a naïve, virtuous rube from Iowa, but behaves more like he was recently created in a lab or imported from another planet. He wants to act in porn after discovering his parents did, but seems to have almost no awareness of movies at all, adult or otherwise, and at one point he notes that he didn't go to high school because his town didn't have one, which even by the grossest stereotypes of the rural Midwest is ridiculous. He meets his match in love interest Kathy (Christina Ricci), who works at his local diner, is charmed by him for reason demanded by the script, and who moved to Hollywood from New Jersey in order to fulfill her lifelong dream of being... a waitress. There's almost a laugh there -- unfortunately, that's one of the bits the film plays straight, even offering Ricci a practicing-at-delivering-food montage in which the character gets over her fears of burning customers with hot soup. If only those of us in the audience could set our expectations so low, maybe Bucky Larson wouldn't feel like such an insult.