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Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Sony Pictures // R // January 17, 2012 // Region 0
List Price: $35.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 14, 2012 | E-mail the Author
"A lot of reviewers aren't going into that movie to like it. They don't want to like it. None of those reviewers was psyched to see Bucky Larson and laugh. They go in with the mentality, 'fuck these guys for
[click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
making another movie'. They go in there to kind of headhunt. It makes me laugh because it's just so embarrassing. It makes them look like such morons."

- Nick Swardson on...well, people like me, I guess

Hey there! Headhunting moron Adam Tyner here, and I'm here to talk to you tonight about Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.

Swardson's probably not all that far off when he says none of those reviewers were psyched to see his new flick. I mean, Bucky Larson's rocking a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and if you need that spelled out for you, that means literally no critic who bothered to review the movie gave it a thumbs-up. Whatever, though, right? A bunch of my favorite movies got pretty brutal reviews, so that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Turns out it wasn't just critics who weren't interested, though. Bucky Larson opened on 1,500 screens and grossed a whoppin' $1.4 million its opening weekend, so if I'm doing my math right, that means your average screening of the flick played to maybe five or six people. Propelled by one of the most grating advertising campaigns this side of...hell, I don't even know, Bucky Larson is a movie absolutely no one wanted. Even my friend Scott -- a guy who religiously watches Swardson's nails-on-chalkboard sketch comedy show Pretend Time, can't resist Grandma's Boy whenever it pops up on HBO, and owns at least a couple CDs of his standup -- had less-than-zero interest in watching it, and he was at my damn house when I was reviewing it too.

So anyway, the back of the box says that Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was co-written by Adam Sandler, and I guess I can see that, seeing as how Bucky has a ridiculous haircut and annoying voice like every third movie with Sandler's
"Midwest? What are you doing in there?"
"Munching on this chocolate frisbee...doin' some MadLibs."
stamp of approval on it. Bucky's a sexless man-child from Goatrapist, Iowa or something, and while jerking off for the very first time to some low-rent porn flick from the '70s, he realizes that the couple fucking in front of him are his super-white-bread parents. Rather than looking on in horror at a lifetime of therapy or whatever, Bucky Larson instead sees destiny, taking the next bus out to sunny California to be a porn star. 'Sjust that Bucky has a few things working against him. One, he's a way-innocent virginal dope. Two, his Prince Valiant haircut. Three, his buck teeth. Four, his...well, you know. Downstairs. Not a lot going on down there. Hell, not even a little going on down there.

Most of what happens after that is preeeeeeetty much exactly what you'd expect. There's a lovey-dovey romance followed by the whole break-up-to-make-up deal, an archnemesis-type (Stephen Dorff doing his best Bret Michaels), relentlessly vicious ridicule making way for fame and fortune...whatever. It's not even worth getting into, so I guess I'll just start complaining right about now instead. The best thing I can say about Bucky Larson is that it's vaguely watchable. I mean, if I were rattling off a list of the five worst comedies I've ever seen -- Housebroken, The Love Guru, Disaster Movie, Strange Wilderness, and The Amateurs, maybe -- I don't think Bucky would make that cut. As aggressively
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laughless as it is, at least the movie breezes along at a kind of steady clip. It doesn't plod along or get excruciatingly boring or anything. So, there's...that, I guess?

Part of me almost feels like Bucky Larson is some strange kind of art experiment, kinda like Freddy Got Fingered a while back where the whole point is fucking with the audience. I mean, pick up something shitty and schlocky like Disaster Movie and there's all sorts of desperate mugging for laughs. With Bucky Larson...I can kind of tell that there are moments where the movie's expecting a laugh, but there's not even the basic framework of comedy around them. It's a one-joke movie where a guy with bad hair, worse teeth, a squeaky lisp of a voice, and a microscopic dick expects to get paid to fuck women on camera. A big chunk of what's supposed to pass for comedy comes from people being raging assholes to Bucky, and not even in a clever or inspired sort of way. Cruelty equals funny, I guess? Another runner is Bucky's spunk vanishing into thin air when he's doing the porn thing, and everyone looks around the room wondering where it went and then being, like, "oh, there's some semen over there". Cum closeup. Pause for laugh. Yeah... When it's not mean mean mean penis penis penis, Bucky Larson has this almost intriguing mindset of playing long stretches of the movie completely straight. I don't mean having all sorts of absurd, ridiculous things happen while the cast plays it straight and serious; I mean, to the point where Bucky Larson seems to think it's a straightahead drama or something, complete with gentle, lilting, afterschool-special acoustic guitar in the background. Christina Ricci doesn't even seem to realize she's in a comedy, failing to milk any laughs from her character's dream of being a waitress. I mean, she already is a waitress, but she wistfully fantasizes about being a waitress at a nicer restaurant. You could get a few really solid gags out of that. Bucky Larson, though...? Not so much. I guess you're supposed to laugh that there's nothing to laugh at? I don't know.

It's kind of depressing because I loved the holy hell out of Nick Swardson's first couple of standup specials, but just about everything he's touched since then is just...ack. Stupid movie. Be more funny! Skip It.

Video, at least Bucky Larson looks kinda nice? It's bright! It's colorful! It's sharp! It's super-detailed! Even though the movie's pretty short and there aren't all that many extras, Sony's chucked a dual-layer disc Bucky Larson's way, so the AVC encode holds up really well. The compression never once sputters or stutters, and that goes for potentially problematic shots like the strobing of a few hundred thousand flashbulbs going off at the Adult Film Awards or whatever it's called too. Yeah, yeah, I bitched about Bucky Larson kind of relentlessly for a while there, but the way it looks in high-def...? Not a whole lot to complain about there.

The 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is pretty much what you'd waltz in expecting to hear. Bass response is decent, mostly used to reinforce the music and to add a little kick to a few other scattered effects. This isn't the kind of movie that's threatens to rattle the room or anything, obviously. Not much in the way of hyperaggressive split-surrounds or silky smooth pans either. The rears are limited to dishing out some
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light atmosphere -- like the metallic clink of...something in an ice cream shoppe and the crowd going nuts for Bucky at Not-AVN -- along with beefing up the score and stuff. The sound design's not exactly adventurous, but there's not really any reason for it to be either. On the other hand, fidelity is pretty great throughout, with every element in the mix rendered clearly and distinctly. Not everything's going to be demo material, but...yeah, this is exactly the soundtrack Bucky Larson needs.

The French dub also gets the lossless treatment. Subtitles, meanwhile, are served up in English (traditional and SDH), French, and Spanish.

  • Laughter Is Contagious (5 min.; HD): A kinda routine gag reel.

  • Behind the Teeth (11 min.; HD): A kinda routine making-of featurette.

    I know I'm supposed to say more than that, but you know the drill: a little chatter about how the project came together, oodles of casting notes, everyone talking about how terrific the director is...that sort of thing. "Behind the Teeth" is shockingly straightforward and drab, devoid of any real personality and not even a little bit of fun to watch. Standard stuff, just with a lot more penises.

  • Gary: Tough Customer (4 min.; HD): Kevin Nealon talks about his small role as Bucky's psychotic, rampaging roommate...about the craft of acting or whatever and how, oh, but we have fun.

  • Bucky Sparkles (2 min.; HD): So, yeah, Nick Swardson's on-screen orgasming scores its very own featurette.

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