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He's no drip

Adam Sandler's latest triumph: 'Waterboy'

Web posted on:
Wednesday, November 11, 1998 5:05:40 PM EST

From Correspondent Bill Tush

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It's a story that clearly illustrates the often gaping-wide canyon that separates the tastes of movie critics, and the tastes of the movie-going public.

In the span of one weekend, Adam Sandler's new comedy "The Waterboy" went from critical flop to commercial record-breaker. Critics panned the film, yet it ended up setting a record for debuts in November or December, raking in nearly $40 million.

Loving every minute of it is the lovable Sandler, who some (certainly not the critics) are calling a comic genius on par with Jim Carrey. And Sandler seems to be getting more popular with each new comedy.

'He is a genuine, good person'

In "Billy Madison," he played a loafer with six months to pass grades one through 12. In "Happy Gilmore," he was a loopy, golf club-swinging hockey player who squared off in a fistfight with Bob Barker.

Earlier this year, Sandler scored one of the year's surprise hits with "The Wedding Singer."

"Billy Madison" "Happy Gilmore" "The Wedding Singer" "The Waterboy"

And now, he's carrying "The Waterboy." Sandler says the idea for "The Waterboy" sprang from one of Sandler's many offbeat "Saturday Night Live" characters.

"You could compare him to 'Canteen Boy,' whereas he does love water and they both get picked on a lot," Sandler says. "But the thing I like the most about this ('Waterboy') character is just that he is a genuine, good person."

'Every teen-age boy in America worships him'

Young moviegoers and college kids have embraced Sandler's unique mix of juvenile humor and sympathetic characters.

"He's got a really good sense of humor and I know that every teen-age boy in America worships him," says Fairuza Balk, Sandler's co-star.

"Adam has sort of an innocent-kid quality that he brings but there's so much intelligence," says "Waterboy" director Frank Coraci.

Coraci and Sandler's writing partner, Tim Herlihy, were both former college roommates of Sandler at New York University. Herlihy wrote Sandler's "The Wedding Singer"; Coraci directed it.

"My buddies, we've always just tried to make each other laugh," Sandler says. "I mean, just like all friends hanging out -- that's the goal."

'He's a great writer'

And amid the laughter, they learn from each other, too.

"'Wedding Singer' taught us we shouldn't be afraid of making people feel emotional in the middle of the movie, rather than just dealing with comedy," Sandler says.

With the right team behind him, Sandler has been able to make the box office ring consistently with relatively modest budgets. And despite his goofy persona, when the camera is rolling, Sandler takes the business of comedy very seriously.

"He's dedicated, he's very professional and he's really good to work with," says Balk.

"He's one of the hardest-working people I know and he cares so much about the writing," says Coraci. "I think the thing people don't know is, he's a great writer."

So it's more than just dumb luck that nice guy Adam Sandler is finshing first at box office.

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