''The Waterboy's'' theatrical tradition -- A field guide to a few other movie sons who loved their mothers a little too much

By James A. Martin
March 26, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

The Waterboy may look like just another boneheaded Adam Sandler farce to you, yet in his role as a ”water distribution engineer” who always minds his mama (the indomitable Kathy Bates), Sandler carries on in a theatrical tradition that dates back to Oedipus and Hamlet. Here, a field guide to a few other movie sons who loved their mothers not wisely but too well. And vice versa.

Albert Brooks in Mother (1996)
The Apron Strings: Brooks moves back in with Mother (Debbie Reynolds) to figure out why he’s a failure with women.
Sonny’s Lament: ”I feel estranged from my own mother…. It affects everything I do, especially with women.”

John Candy in Only the Lonely (1991)
The Apron Strings: Candy is a no-show at his own wedding, choosing his Ma (Maureen O’Hara) over his fiancee.
Sonny’s Lament: Getting engaged is ”the only time in my life I’ve made a decision without thinking of” Mother first.

Woody Allen in New York Stories (1989)
The Apron Strings: Mother (Mae Questel), as an apparition hovering over Manhattan, doesn’t approve of her son’s girlfriend.
Sonny’s Lament: ”I’m 50 years old…and I still haven’t resolved my relationship with my mother.”

Anthony Perkins in Psycho (1960)
The Apron Strings: Perkins wears his mother’s housedress, assumes her personality, and preserves her corpse.
Sonny’s Lament: ”A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

James Cagney in White Heat (1949)
The Apron Strings: Ubercrook Cagney gets lonely after Mom (Margaret Wycherly) dies, even though he’s got a beautiful wife.
Sonny’s Lament: ”All I ever had was Ma.”

Claude Rains in Notorious (1946)
The Apron Strings: Rains’ Nazi weds Ingrid Bergman, unaware she’s a spy. Mama’s (Leopoldine Konstantin) solution: poison her.
Sonny’s Lament: ”You’ve always been jealous of any woman I’ve ever shown any interest in.”

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