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Movie Review

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

As sketchy comedies go, silly ‘Bucky’ falls short

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By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / September 10, 2011

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You can see where Adam Sandler and Comedy Central familiar face Nick Swardson have probably bonded over their affinity for wacky sketch characters. Swardson was always hilarious on TV’s “Reno 911!’’ as hot pants-sporting roller-hustler Terry, and his Eurotrashy sidekick role in Sandler’s “Just Go With It’’ was part of the movie’s surprising, shaggy appeal. But the two know full well, of course, the hazards that go with trying to fill out an entire story with one of these tossed-off bits of nonsense personified. Sometimes you end up with “The Wedding Singer,’’ and sometimes you get “Little Nicky.’’

That doesn’t stop them from diving right into “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star,’’ sort of an “SNL’’-ified “Boogie Nights’’ that the pair coscripted with Sandler trouper Allen Covert as Swardson’s first spotlight vehicle. (The movie was directed by Tom Brady - the one who made “The Hot Chick,’’ we’ll note, lest Pats fans fret that there’s some ruinous moonlighting going on.) Swardson gets a pageboy coif and stuffs his mouth with prosthetic choppers big as guitar picks as Bucky, a gee-willikers hick who accidentally learns that his parents (Miriam Flynn and, yes, Edward Herrmann) were ’70s au naturel porn stars. Traumatizing? Heck, no - inspiring! Bucky hops a bus for Hollywood (or the Valley, more precisely), cheerily determined to carry on the family tradition.

He’s soon doing just that, with help from his new waitress gal pal (thanklessly cast Christina Ricci); a has-been porn director (Don Johnson, game as can be); and an audience that can’t get enough of his decided lack of prowess. His celebrity stems from a twist on the adage about screen idols: Guys are grateful they’re not Bucky, and women are grateful they’re not with Bucky.

Swardson and the gang generally opt for silly over edgy and outrageous, but Bucky is just too dashed-off a character for the movie to get by on that. You’ll chuckle when Bucky coos, “My brain just sparkled!’’ about his first quasi-sexual experience. But alert viewers will probably get a bigger kick out of throwaways: the shamelessly kinky adult film poster in Johnson’s home-editing suite. Or the Dirk Diggler-y bulge of Bucky’s industry rival (Stephen Dorff). Or the cartoony sound effect that follows one money shot geared toward “There’s Something About Mary’’ fans. Never thought we’d say this about a movie, but “Bucky Larson’’ probably doesn’t wring as much out of recurring bodily-fluid gags as it could.

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.

BUCKY LARSON: Born to Be a Star Directed by: Tom Brady

Written by: Adam Sandler, Allen Covert, and Nick Swardson

Starring: Swardson, Don Johnson, Christina Ricci, and Stephen Dorff

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 96 minutes

Rated: R (pervasive crude sexual content, language, and some nudity)

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