Waterboy’s Adam Sandler Reveals Kathy Bates’ Reaction After Hearing Critics Probably Wouldn’t Like The Comedy

Though he is a beloved comedian and has given us some of the funniest films to grace cinema, Adam Sandler has seen his fair share of harsh comments from critics, though the Sandman really doesn’t care. When it comes to his movies, there are huge disparities between the critic scores and audience ratings as seen on Rotten Tomatoes. Ironically, some of the harshest-reviewed Sandler films remain some of the audience’s favorites. The fans don't worry too much it seems, and the same is true about Kathy Bates, who played Sandler's mother in The Waterboy. This notion is based on a story that Sandler told regarding the time he opined to Bates that the comedy wouldn't be well received.

Adam Sandler is one of the most successful comedians in Hollywood, but it wasn’t always shaping up to be that way. After being fired from SNL, he started creating some of his own comedy films during the '90s, and many have since become well loved -- and The Waterboy is definitely one of those flicks. While appearing on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Sandler recalled a conversation he had with on-screen mother Kathy Bates about the movie's potential critical reception. He explained to the Oscar winner that expectations weren't high, but Bates simply wouldn't have any of it:

I remember Kathy Bates in Waterboy, and I loved her and I loved everything she did. I remember telling her when somebody brought up critics that I was like, ‘They’re probably not gonna like it. They’re probably gonna say bad stuff, maybe don’t read it.’ And she said ‘Well, I like it, so that’s all that matters,’ or something like that. She was cool.

As the leading man predicted, the critics weren't too fond of Waterboy upon its release. He was ready for it, however, likely because Billy Madison was released to similar reviews just a few years prior. Even so, bad reviews and harsh words can wear a performer down.

During the same interview, Adam Sandler went on to discuss just how bad he felt about the hate his movies were getting - not for himself, but for his family and the other talent who worked on the productions. Here is what he says, exactly:

When the critics started hating me, I really I just felt bad for my family and I just felt bad for the people who worked really hard on the movies. I mean, I had so many great actors in the movies. When we would get done shooting it, they would say to me ‘I think the critics are really going to like this one.’ And I’d say ‘Oh no, they’re going to say bad things, and they’re probably going to say bad things about you being in it.’

As bad as Adam Sandler may have felt then about his family and other actors getting bad press, he probably doesn’t feel so bad now. Hit Sandler movies like Waterboy, which actually appears first in the “Known For” section of IMDb, and Billy Madison  will go down in cinematic history as some of the most influential of the decade. They've certainly made a dent in pop culture, as there are plenty of people who quote Kathy Bates' Helen "Mama" Boucher's "foosball" line.

Yes, Adam Sandler has had some flops mixed in with his greatest hits, but that arguably comes with the territory when you're creating films that toe the lines of the silly, slap-stick comedy. It sounds like the big stars like Kathy Bates knew this even during the early aughts of the actor's career and, together, they created something that not only they liked and were proud of but that remains beloved by fans. Hopefully, we can expect some of the same from Sandler’s upcoming films like Murder Mystery 2 which among the movie releases of 2023. You can also stream The Waterboy right now using a Hulu subscription.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.