Bucky Larson didn't always think he was born to be a star. For some time, he thought he was born to be an Iowa grocery bagger. And that seemed like a good life, chatting with customers during the day, playing Yahtzee with his parents at night.
But one afternoon, Bucky finds himself out of work—fired, curiously, after his boss thwacks himself in the eye with a grocery divider. To make Bucky feel better, his friends try to cheer him up with an unexpected diversion: an old stag film from the 1970s.
More unexpected than that is the fact that the film stars Bucky's parents.
Most of us would feel rather uncomfortable learning that our parents used to be porn stars. Not Bucky. He's instantly starstruck: Mom and Dad were famous! For getting naked!
He heads home, tells his folks that he knows their little secret and announces that he's heading to Cali to make good on the family name. They warn him that the porn biz isn't as glamorous as it looks. But Bucky's not to be dissuaded. He boards a bus, settles into his seat and turns his thoughts toward Hollywood: a new home, a new life, a new career and a new way to make his parents, um, proud.
There are some good messages in this film.
Yes, you're still reading the review for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star—an R-rated sex comedy fixated on the porn industry. So please don't take these next few paragraphs as some sort of license to either see the movie or picket Plugged In's palatial cubicles. I'm simply stating the horrific truth: Bucky Larson is, in its own terrible way, insightful.
Bucky, for reasons quickly apparent in the film, is not the prototypical porn star. And the movie's makers end up using an extraordinarily crude running joke related to how he looks to at least partially expose the porn industry for what it is—a peddler of unrealistic and damaging fantasy. And in his own technical way, Bucky saves himself for his one true love. Not for marriage, quite, mind you, but at least for monogamy and, later, matrimony.
In other words, Bucky balks at the idea of having sex with anyone but his main squeeze, Kathy—on or off camera. And Kathy similarly rejects the overt overtures of a desirable porn star. Sex isn't about the plumbing, she essentially tells him. It's about having a "caring partner." Bucky and Kathy wind up heading back to Iowa to open a steak restaurant together.
Another little oddity: While Bucky wants to be a star, Kathy just wants to be a waitress—turning the longtime trope of wannabe stars bussing tables in Hollywood on its head. She wants to be the best waitress she can be, and she and Bucky treat her career as if she was the star (Bucky going so far as to give her a silver-plated serving tray). Thus, the film explicitly tells us that sometimes our supposed dreams and "destinies" should be about more than wealth and fame. That instead they should be about simply doing what we're good at and enjoy.
The film's discussion of destiny spills over into spiritual territory just a bit. And Bucky references his family's "Bible night."
One of the most disturbing elements of Bucky Larson is, simply, how great being a porn star seems to everyone. Perhaps it's all part of the joke. Or perhaps it's an ominous reminder of how pornography has become so mainstream. Bucky's parents are quite proud of their son's success. And Kathy couldn't be more pleased either—even breaking up with him just to make sure she isn't holding him back.
Breast nudity is filmed multiple times—often within the confines of a porno shoot. Actresses "dress" in the most revealing outfits imaginable. Bucky frequently exposes his backside. And his genitalia—used as a punch line throughout the film—gets screen time (from a distance).
We hear an extended explanation of how to masturbate, why it's done and how often certain individuals do it. And we see explicit motions when Bucky gives it a try for the first time—in front of his friends. Then we see him do it again—this time in front of strangers at a commercial audition. (He thinks he's auditioning for a porn film.) We see Bucky's semen landing on furniture, camera lenses, ice cream cones and people. His friends masturbate too.
A bestiality gag involves an Iowa farmer coaxing a goat to lick his private parts. We see a transvestite prostitute. Homosexual porn stars try to shove dildos into Bucky's mouth. Bucky's makeup artist is also homosexually active, and he describes in detail all the sexual/scatological reasons why his partner left him. Jokes are made about child pornography and Bucky being a pedophile.
Bucky's roommate leers at and makes crude comments about Kathy. Raunchy images and jokes involve porn film awards and the naked statuettes that accompany them. Double entendres are the norm. As are vulgar and obscene references to sexual body parts. There are loads of comments about various sexual smells.
Bucky's boss at the Iowa grocery store challenges him to a fight, then hits himself in the eye. Bucky's thrown into a pool by a rival. A "colleague" is grabbed by the throat. Farmers shoot the head off a scarecrow.
Crude or Profane Language
Nearly 50 f-words, and about that same number of crude, rude and socially unacceptable (at least here at Plugged In) terms for male and female body parts. There are about 20 s-words. Combined, God's and Jesus' names are misused half-a-dozen times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The porn film's director has a morning habit of downing drugs. His assistant says he's looking for an "8-ball" (cocaine). Viagra pills are popped. Wine, tequila and champagne are drunk. We see someone tested for driving under the influence.
Other Negative Elements
Almost everyone makes fun of Bucky, often for his dramatic overbite. And when he rides in a convertible, he gets bugs stuck in his teeth. A dead bird floats in the pool from which Bucky is using water to brush them. A guy is seen sitting on a toilet.
The director arm-twists Kathy into breaking up with Bucky. Bucky's Hollywood roommate is verbally abusive.
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was written in part by comedian Adam Sandler and produced by Sandler's Happy Madison Productions—which, frankly, explains a lot. Because Sandler has a knack for taking strong family messages and burying them under a heaping pile of unfortunate content.
Here's a film that takes a dim view of porn, telling us that the most important component of sex is love. And it gives us a strangely innocent-minded hero who, in the end, rejects Hollywood and returns to Iowa—pushing away the fantasy for a life rooted in reality.
"I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did," Miles tells Bucky.
But since he brought up mistakes … Bucky Larson is a big one. It's one of the foulest movies of the year, designed to capitalize on the very fantasy its underlying morality rejects. Its jokes are so rancid and crude they seem simply cribbed from men's bathroom stalls at a skid row bar. Its hero is so tainted and tempted by sexual sleaze that … well, you certainly get the point by now.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Nick Swardson as Bucky Larson; Christina Ricci as Kathy McGee; Don Johnson as Miles Deep; Stephen Dorff as Dick Shadow; Ido Mosseri as J. Day; Kevin Nealon as Gary; Edward Herrmann as Jeremiah Larson; Miriam Flynn as Debbie Larson
Tom Brady (The Comebacks, The Hot Chick)
September 9, 2011
Paul Asay Paul Asay