(US); 1999; Rated R; 104 Minutes
James Van Der Beek: Jonathan 'Mox' Moxon
Jon Voight: Coach Bud Kilmer
Paul Walker: Lance Harbor
Ron Lester: Billy Bob
Scott Caan: Tweeder
Richard Lineback: Joe Harbor
Produced by Herbert Gains, David Gale, Ruben Hostka,
Tova Laiter, Brian Robbins, Van Toffer and Michael Tollin;
Directed by Brian Robbins; Screenwritten by
W. Peter Iliff
by DAVID KEYES
it is, already, the worst movie of 1999. We've haven't even
passed February, and we've already arrived at the pinnacle
of pure crap at the cinema. Allow me to introduce "Varsity
Blues," a movie so void of simple intelligence and value
that it provokes headaches and nausea. This is indeed garbage
at its worst: nothing, not even the talents of James Van
Der Beek and Jon Voight, could have saved it. Watch any
three minutes of it, and you'll understand what I mean.
The formula pursues an inspiration for America's youth to
'live for the day,' so to speak, but what the filmmakers
are asking us to do here is beyond comprehension and tolerance.
Those who will like it have the mental capabilities of a
film is another miscalculation for MTV productions, a company
that has already shown the world how pathetically and stupidly
movies can be interpreted by the makers nowadays. That process
of the cheap-thrill entertainment began with an amusing
but dismal picture called "Joe's Apartment," about a man's
household inhabited with wisecracking cockroaches. Last
year, "Dead Man On Campus" took center stage and sought
out a series of brainless ideas and situations to keep the
script moving at the length of an average movie. Now "Varsity
Blues" comes along, and MTV verifies that they are indeed
the most repulsive and deficient filmmaking company that
has ever existed, and we're not forgetting Dimension Films,
either. This is not simply their worst film in history,
but also one of the worst in all history. To call it even
watchable would be an inaccurate claim.
attempting to describe the setup makes me cringe. The movie
is essentially a combination of three clichéd movie formulas
with a couple of new twists. It opens in West Canaan, Texas,
a town obsessed with their love of football. Their high
school team has already won over 20 championships, thanks
to it's current coach (Jon Voight). With his strict standards
for the athletes on the team, he's determined to lead them
to that victory again, no matter what the cost. This guy
is a roughneck in the purest sense: his cruel, unethical
treatment of the sport and the players prompts us not only
to hate the man, but to detest him as well. If a player
is injured badly, what kind of decent coach would force
him to continue playing? What is this, World War II??
the star quarterback is severely injured and taken out of
the game. He is then replaced by Jonathan Moxon, or as his
friends call him, Mox (James Van Der Beek). He's not your
typical football star. The town intends their football players
to be great assets in the world of sports, but Mox sees
himself going off to college, making something of his life.
We meet him as an unpopular high school kid, and watch him
develop into a star, even though those don't seem to be
his initial intentions in life. He could care less if the
team is taken to the championship, although he certainly
makes every effort on the field to do so.
movie strictly about Mox might have been worthwhile, but
he is completely overshadowed by the host of horribly written
characters to follow. There is, for instance, Ali Larter,
a cheerleader with trampy tendencies. In one scene trying
to hook on to Van Der Beek, she embeds herself with a whip-cream
bikini. Kinky? More like messy.
the events chronicling Mox as the temporary quarterback
are demonstrated in the film: the games, the victories,
the parties, and heck, even the law enforcement, which features
a couple of cops showing up to put a stop to a party not
once, but twice. Even after that, no one gets arrested.
In fact, the party continues with a couple of the guys stealing
a cop car. This is no ordinary party, either: there's sex
on a dryer, vomiting in a washing machine, and a whole lot
more, which is just as unfunny and lame-brained as the butt
paddling and mailbox destruction in "Dazed And Confused."
Oh, but all that pales compared to the moment when a character
named Billy Bob, played by Ron Lester, gets up on the stage
to perform with strip-club performers. Somehow, the words
escape me as I attempt to describe him gyrating his body.
example of some of the film's more insipid dialogue shows
us just how moronic a character like Billy Bob can be. During
one of the film's most notoriously moronic scenes, Billy
Bob winds up on his back, injured and disillusioned (I can't
remember if it was at the party or the game). Someone steps
over him, holds up some fingers, and asks him, "How many
fingers am I holding up? But another character explains,
Billy Bob isn't the brightest person in the world. To expect
an answer, you need to ask him a true/false question, not
multiple choice. The solution? "Billy Bob, am I holding
up any fingers?"
ho, ho. The whole film is a series of lackluster and stupid
victories and celebrations, which can be watched in any
order, since the script is strung together with such little
thought that it doesn't even have a sense of direction.
This may be a problem for most of the film's stars, but
Van Der Beek and Lester will probably get hit harder with
the devastating impact. It's always more difficult for young
actors to recover from bad movies. Big names like Jon Voight
will continue to see paychecks, because they have already
established themselves in Hollywood as terrific screen presences.
Either way, I hope all of them put this fiasco quickly behind
them. The actors get lost overwhelmingly in the material.
They sidetrack themselves from any attention and let the
characters develop without any sense of rhythm. Not one
piece of dialogue, not one scene, not one actor, and not
even one cliché has any indication of ambition or effort.
Even that forgettable ending sequence involving the routine
"big game" does not establish a reason for the movie wasting
two hours of our lives.
the fault lies elsewhere, but you can't help hate every
person that shows up on screen. Especially Billy Bob, which,
of course, is a shame, since Lester looks like he could
be another Chris Farley one day. Why did the script give
him an IQ that is south of 10 and a personality reminiscent
of a lobotomized Porky Pig? There's even a scene in the
movie where the whole team actually buys him a companion,
whom he talks to when on the road. That companion is a real
live pig. Oh well. At least he finally found someone to
converse with on his own level.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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