Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star looked dreadful. The concept, the trailers and the title character named after his gigantic front teeth promised a worst of the year type of event, but, much to my surprise, it’s not. It’s still a bad movie that I can’t recommend, but the fact that I only partially hated it rather than completely should be seen as a win for Happy Madison Productions.
The story is simple. Bucky (Nick Swardson, who co-wrote the script with Adam Sandler) is a small town Iowa boy who has never had a sexual experience. After discovering that his parents were big porn stars back in the day, he decides to travel to LA and become his own star in nude films. He’s not someone you would expect to be in porn, but his tiny, ahem, asset ends up giving hope to those who watch him. The guys become more confident in their size and the women become happy with what they have. No matter how pathetic their boyfriends are, at least they’re better (and bigger) than Bucky.
As if it needs to be stated after that plot synopsis, Bucky Larson is stupid. There’s no getting around it and no reason to. This movie embraces its inanity, fully aware of what it is. This is seen in one particularly humorous bit where Bucky, having just arrived in LA, buys a water bottle shaped like the Oscar statue and carries it around, framed front and center by the camera. It knows it’s not going to win any awards and mocks itself with this simple shot. Still, moments like this are few and far between; most of the humor is unfunny and juvenile. When the first gag in the movie involves a redneck smearing peanut butter on his testicles for his goats to lick off, you know what you’re about to see is going to be anything but sophisticated.
Much of the supposed humor develops from Bucky’s looks and the verbal abuse he takes from those around him—his buck teeth and bowl haircut open him up to a host of cruelty. Even the most inconsequential side characters who pop up for mere seconds take verbal swings at Bucky, making this one of the most mean spirited movies to be released in some time. The problem is we come to like Bucky. He’s a simpleton, sure, and his innocent ignorance can prove grating, but he’s too happy to hate. His spirits remain high even when things aren’t going his way and when they do, success doesn’t go to his head. He has his priorities straight.
The main priority in question is Kathy (Christina Ricci), a pretty waitress who seems to look past his looks and like him more for what’s on the inside. Ricci oozes loveliness and it’s thanks to her the movie works as well as it does. For what it’s worth, the romance is actually kind of sweet, though unrealistic, and despite following a common and predictable narrative trajectory, the ending is satisfying.
I feel like I’ve praised Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star more than some movies I recommend, but that’s only because this could have been so much worse. It’s still not worth seeing (and with the constant talk of masturbation and dialogue like “twang your wang,” why would you want to?), but it’s not all terrible either. It actually has some heart and an IQ level that isn’t in the negatives. Shocking, I know.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star receives 1.5/5