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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Sony Pictures // R // January 17, 2012
List Price: $30.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted February 1, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Nick Swardson + porn - laughs

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Kevin Nealon
Likes: Nick Swardson, silly comedies
Dislikes: Potty humor, most Happy Madison productions
Hates: Weak comedy

The Movie
Nick Swardson is a perfect comedic embodiment of the Wolverine Rule. When Wolverine made cameo appearances, served up in small doses, he was awesome. But he became more popular, made more and more appearances and eventually got his own series, and then a movie, which were less than impressive. Nick Swardson has been tremendously entertaining in his appearances on Reno 911! and has been good in smaller film roles like in Just Go With It, but his show Nick Swardson's Pretend Time has been uneven and now, Bucky Larson goes a long way toward putting an end to his career as a movie star before it ever began. There really can be too much of a good thing.

The concept, at least at first, doesn't seem like a bad one. A man-child of indeterminable age, Bucky (Swardson) is a bagger at a local Midwest grocery store, and blissfully ignorant of much of the world, especially in the world of sexuality, to the point where he's never even explored his own body. But with the help of his friends (who also seem oddly lacking in development) he discovers sex, as well as the fact that his parents were porn stars in the '70s. Inspired by their "stardom," he heads off to Hollywood to pick up their mantle and fulfill his destiny in the nude movies. Unfortunately, besides being horrendously naive, socially awkward and generally dim, he's also horrifically unendowed.

However, that doesn't stop him from meeting a nice girl named Kathy (Christina Ricci), finding a roommate (the wonderfully rage-fueled Kevin Nealon) and getting into the business, thanks to Miles Deep, a down-on-his luck director played with some off-kilter sincerity by Don Johnson. Bucky's inexperience with sex and/or women has resulted in an orgasmic hair trigger (and several repetitive sight gags of him convulsing like an angry orangutan) which Miles packages as an unlikely new brand of porn, putting Bucky in direct competition with the industry's leading talent, the arrogant Dick Shadow (Stephen Dorff.) Honestly, it seems like far more though went into coming up with porn actor and movie names than anything that went into the script, which goes nowhere quite slowly, as Bucky enjoys his climb to fame and the pitfalls that come with it.

Though Bucky's aimless wandering through the world of adult film is all but pointless (adding only some gratuitous nudity and more of the same sight gags), it's a better way to spend time than a subplot between Kathy and Bucky, involving her dream of being a waitress and the tragic incident that put an end to her hopes. If the film, which had already been peppered with ridiculous, nonsensical moments, had just taken the ideas to their cartoonish extremes, they may have resulted in some laughs, but it's almost as if we are to take Kathy and her quest seriously, thanks to the earnestness Ricci imbues her character with. At the same time, that earnestness makes no sense, as she's fine with Bucky's porn career, to the extent where she watches his films, an action that's incredibly out-of-character for the Madonna she's set up to be. Perhaps it's asking too much to want character consistency from a movie that opens with a man smearing his genitals with peanut butter in order to entice animals, which, by the way, has nothing to do with anything that follows it.

The failure of this film should have been easy to spot from a distance when one saw that the director was Tom Brady, who is now 0-for-3 in the director's chair, having previously brought us two Rob Schneider epics, The Animal and The Hot Chick (both as helmer and scribe.) Yet, it is very disappointing to watch such an unfunny film unfurl, a characterization made all the more clear by Nealon's mad rants and one audition scene that was surprisingly funny, mainly for the surprise it sprung. These brief, yet rather funny moments make the rest of the film look even more boring by comparison. Looking over Brady's IMDB entry, he's been a part of some truly great comedy, as a writer on The Critic and a producer on Sports Night and The Simpsons. One wonders what happened to leave us with these films and his most recent horror, Are You There, Chelsea?.

A one-disc release packed in a standard keepcase, this DVD has an animated, anamorphic widescreen menu, with options to play the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the extras. Audio options include English, French, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, while a whopping seven subtitle tracks are available, including English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French, Korean, Spanish and Thai.

The Quality
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks like pretty much every other modern studio film these days, so there's no reason to expect any disappointment. The film's brightly-colored day scenes and moderately dim evening moments are all reproduced without any issue, at the level of fine detail is high and the black levels are sufficiently deep. There are no noticeable issues with digital artifacts either, making for a quality presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesn't have a lot of work to do here, with the majority of the movie being focused on dialogue, but it does help enhance the music with a boost from the side and rear speakers, along with some minor atmospheric effects (as well as one particular directional sound effect.) Like the video, this presentation is what we've come to expect from any film with a decent budget, and with those lowered expectations, this is a success aurally.

The Extras
There are four featurettes included, which run a total of 22 minutes, a surprising number for a movie that was an utter failure at the box office. Things get started with "Laughter Is Contagious" (5 minutes), which is a gag reel, mixing screw-ups and on-set clowning. In terms o laughs per minute, it's a bit funnier than the film (feint praise and alll...)

At 11 minutes, "Behind the Teeth" is a rather extensive look at the making of the movie, with all the on-set footage, interviews and apple polishing you'd expect from such an endeavor. That would probably work well on a better film, but when you think about what resulted from all the work shown, and that the people involved are praised so highly, it almost comes off like a parody of such bonus features.

That sense of the ridiculous is carried over into a faux-serious interview with Nealon (assisted by Ricci) in the four-minute "Gary: Tough Customer," which puts the spotlight on one of the film's brighter spots via plenty of outtakes from his first scene. It may be worth a look simply to hear a filthy double entendre from Ricci. The extras wrap with "Bucky Sparkles," a quick two-minute examination of the film's main reason for existence, the main character's violent orgasms. It's like a distillation of the movie's essence.

Also included are several previews for other Sony films.

The Bottom Line
A stupid comedy can certainly be enjoyable, but Bucky Larson pushes the idiocy to a level where the film is just inane and sadly boring, overwhelming the normally funny Swardson and the few minor funny moments. It's such a wreck that it's hard to figure out exactly where it went wrong, in the concept or the execution (or perhaps both.) The DVD looks and sounds fine, and actually offers a few solid, if short extras that are more entertaining on the whole than the film itself.

Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter

*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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