Obviously, there is a worst movie every year. But there is not necessarily a historically bad movie every year, a motion picture so lousy that it becomes a benchmark for future horrible films. "Well, at least it's better than Freddy Got Fingered," audiences would shrug in the years that followed it, or, "Sure, that was bad for a romantic comedy, but it's no Sex and the City 2."
There is such a film in 2011. Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is a rare thing, indeed. It's not just misguided; it's poorly cast, conceived and executed, as well as being entirely pointless. That said, many comedies could technically be labeled as "bad," but still work to some degree, just because they're only going for laughs. Not so here, unless nervous laughter counts. If the Rev. Jim Jones were hired to cater the maiden voyage of the Titanic, that disaster would be on par with Bucky Larson.
Here's how bad it is: When Pauly Shore walks onscreen for his cameo, you genuinely feel sorry for him.
The movie comes from the now-barren comedy mind of Adam Sandler and Nick Swardson, who is probably best known for roller-skating in hot pants on episodes of Reno 911! Swardson portrays the title character, who, upon learning that his parents were adult-film stars in the 1970s, decides the universe has shown him his destiny.
He had been a grocery-bagger, fired in one of the worst opening scenes in movie history. Moving too slowly because he's chatting up an elderly customer about the merits of Cool Ranch Doritos—the film's first failed attempt at a joke, incidentally—Bucky is chastised by his boss, who, with no provocation at all, picks a fight with his employee. Then the manager hits himself in the eye with a plastic grocery divider; he claims that it was actually Bucky who inflicted the damage, and fires him on the spot. Huh? Seriously, there's not a better (or at least funnier) way to set our hero on his journey?
Bucky finds out his parents' past, and with nothing tying him down, he moves to California to become a porn star, despite having the deck stacked squarely against him for the following reasons, among others:
• The bowl cut. Yep, it's the 21st century, and someone still thinks bowl-cut humor is timely and funny enough to be a signature physical characteristic of the lead character in a film. Moe Howard, who played the Stooge who made the bowl cut infamous, died 36 years ago.
• The buck teeth. Well, this is just a natural. After all, the character's name is Bucky. Of course he needs giant front teeth, or the name wouldn't work. At various points, Bucky is called a walrus and a beaver—also funny, at least to third-graders.
• The small penis. It's probably a tremendous shock to learn that Bucky Larson, already afflicted with two cosmetic shortcomings, would not be sufficient where it really counts for a porn star. Sandler and Swardson probably needed to work through several drafts of the screenplay before settling on that one; it's quite an angle. No way you could have predicted that.
Collectively, those traits make up the bedrock of the main character, an idea apparently solid enough for Sandler to produce this movie for about $10 million. Most people tell better, more-original and more-entertaining stories while trying to get out of a speeding ticket.
There is also the matter of setting this film in the seedy underbelly of adult entertainment. How exactly can you satirize an industry known for such actual movie titles as On Golden Blonde and A Clockwork Orgy? It's already a world of parody. Bucky Larson chooses to dive into the wellspring of porn names, that smörgåsbord of double-entendres. Yet all Sandler and Swardson can muster are characters named Dick Shadow (Stephen Dorff) and Miles Deep (Don Johnson), and one of those isn't really even a double-entendre, but rather a way to use the name "Dick," which was apparently an irresistible impulse.
If there is a worse motion picture in the next couple of years, it will be both surprising and very sad. This is a movie that relies on Don Johnson to be its emotional foundation. How much more needs to be said?
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who will hate Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, and those who made it.