Review: Bucky Larson (Born to be a Star)

Caught Bucky Larson this weekend, twice. With unexpected results.

When I first saw the trailer for Bucky Larson it looked awful. Any movie that capitalizes on a star with a strange defect (i.e. big ol’ buck teeth) seems like a sinking ship from the get go, all the jokes are pre-loaded and the humor has nowhere to go.

I’m one of the few people who really didn’t like “Grandma’s Boy” maybe it’s my fact checking history from the game industry, maybe I’m just a douche, who knows? But until recently I considered Adam Sandler movies to be the better ones and the rest of crew at “Happy Madison” who crank out the other movies to be the lesser studio. But now that Adam Sandler has sold his soul to the devil it’s starting to go the other way around. Case in Point – Bucky Larson.

Rather than rely on the same tired looking crew of Adam Sandler’s friends to push a movie through to completion they got some new talented people on board. Stephen Dorff, Christina Ricci (Whom I’m in Love With), Nick Swardson and a surprise out of left field with Don Johnson. Some of the most underrated people in comedy right now. People who are all funny and talented and should have more work.

This isn’t to say the movie is a masterpiece, but I have to give credit to the writing. They deftly avoid cliche after cliche in this movie, moving 2 steps ahead at all times. On the flip-side – It wobbles back and forth between trying a bit too hard to be a real romantic comedy, and a total parody of itself.

To sum up the plot, Bucky Larson is an Iowa kid from a podunk-backwoods town who has never masterbated and is recently fired from his job bagging groceries. His friends, to cheer him up, show him his first porno, an old 70’s adult movie. Which ends up starring his parents. Rather than be disgusted, Bucky is entranced by being the son of two film ‘stars’ and goes to Hollywood to find his destiny. To be in adult films, just like his parents. This off the wall premise leads to him meeting a love interest, and being set back slightly by the fact that he has an absurdly small penis and immediately ejaculates with the first GLIMPSE of a boob, to hilarious effect.

Odd premise huh? But overall it’s unique. Don Johnson is the irascible, friendly, pill-addicted, well meaning porn director who gives Bucky his shot at porn. Nick Swardson while straddling the fence between a overly nice country boy with no shame, and an utter retard, is not the most charming of main characters but he plays his role – To The HILT. A bit part from Kevin Nealon ends up providing some of the best angry nonsensical non-sequiters ever put to film. Christina Ricci, while phoning it in just a bit, is still adorable and charming. And Stephen Dorff, as the hyper-aggressive and hung porn legend “Dick Shadow” is brilliantly over the top.

The insistence of this movie of grounding itself with a bit of reality is it’s only downfall. It’s jokes land, the actors ham it up to great effect and there’s a lot of character and personality. When it goes down the road of having a few serious moments and cheap jokes that belong in a crappier movie it tends to drag and get boring. With a clearer vision I think this movie could have pushed to almost “Anchorman” level humor but falls short due to it’s inability to decide what kind of movie it is. One minute Bucky Larson is clueless to the point of almost epic stupidity, the next he’s giving sage advice and acting like a grown up. Don Johnson is the nicest and warmest person in the world, and the next he’s screaming and doing 8-balls. There’s no comedy inherent in the transition it’s simply that the characters often act, out of character..

What I can offer you, brave readers, is that this movie is surprisingly worth seeing. I get the feeling a lot of the humor could benefit from an altered mind state, but it’s not required. From seeing it twice, I’ve noticed a few things. One, is that this movie is bombing, with terribly empty theaters that probably had the same first awful impression I got from the trailer. Two is that this is way more fun with a group, to share the inside-jokey humor and odd pauses. So bring a friend or three and go see it. Don’t expect to be blown away but you’ll laugh a lot. And that’s what comedies do…