Fox // 2007 // 107 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // January 29th, 2008
Notoriously losing coach, Lambeau Fields (David Koechner, Balls of Fury) has given up on leading teams, managing to stay within the industry by manually extracting semen from racehorses. His former assistant, Freddie (Carl Weathers, Rocky), convinces the coach to head up the wallowing Comebacks, the gridiron embarrassment to Heartland State University. The coach has his work cut out for him as he attempts to sort out the unseemly squad and inserts the unsteady Lance Truman (Matthew Lawrence, Boy Meets World) as quarterback. As the losses pile up, Coach Fields sharpens his determination and somehow guides the team to the South-Southwest Conference Championship at the 2nd Annual Toilet Bowl.
And this would be a good time to flush.
Let's not waste any more time here: The Comebacks is an entirely unfunny endeavor that hasn't a clue about what makes parody work. Instead of playing the humor absolutely straight and allowing an audience to decide for itself when to laugh, this misfire is guided by an "audience laughter" prompt that's turned toward the production cast and crew. Ask the folks involved in this production and they'll tell you this is an absolute rib-splitting romp. The audience, however, isn't included in on the gag. Seemingly, any humor that might have existed in the film must have been anecdotal in which a privy production crew could watch the footage and laugh about the off-camera shenanigans that took place during the shoot. Again, the audience is still waiting to laugh (and, truthfully, I didn't laugh once, not once). If ever you wandered into a movie megaplex in the cold days of January and stepped into the empty auditorium where The Comebacks was on screen, you'd have quickly discovered why there were no other patrons in the theater and you'd likely have exited, too.
Clearly, the film was green-lighted due to the unexplainable success of recent Fox send-ups, Date Movie and Epic Movie. As woeful as those two pictures proved to be, they made money for the studio and, therefore, spawned this riff on all the sentimental sports-themed films. You'll find references to the likes of Varsity Blues, Drumline, Radio, Rudy, Lucas, Any Given Sunday, and so many more. Unfortunately, you won't find comedy here because the parody is consistently undermined by laborious telegraphing of the gags and their source, such as to say, "See? See? You get it? You know what film that's from?" Further, the film is built up around the madcap comedy of David Koechner. Sure, he seems to have a gift for ad-lib zaniness but he wears out his welcome within the first few minutes, literally, with an overt style that, again, doesn't work as a good approach to parody. In sketch comedy or in supporting roles, he might get away with a few laughs but definitely not here. Somehow, the arguably talented Matthew Lawrence became trapped in this abysmal affair, likely to keep the young actor mired in the pool of where-are-they-now erstwhile child actors (cute in Mrs. Doubtfire but what has he done lately?). If you're looking for celebrity cameos, this film has 'em but I can only wonder what these folks are going to say to friends and colleagues who should rightly question, "Why the hell did you do that picture?" Look for sports stars and personalities like Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and others, all on display to disgrace themselves by association with this abomination.
As for the disc itself, the only tangible evidence presented for this hearing was a check disc that likely doesn't contain the final bits that will appear in the commercially released copy. Does this matter? Not really, since even the most competent technical transfer can't help this under-performing mess. But, speaking of mess, that's what is on this screening copy -- a digital disgrace of mosquito noise, macro blocking, and uneven color saturation. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track can't overcome the badness of the film, the execution of surround effects being dismal until the final game sequence but, by that time, who's left in the screening room to hear it?
The overall content of the disc, however, does appear to be complete and consistent to the announced features that will be included in the commercial copy. Don't get too excited, though, since this is the oddest collection of extras you'll find, numerous in count but vacuous in entertainment value. First up is a commentary from director Tom Brady's (no, not the NE Patriots' star quarterback). If you're looking for a reason the comedy is so poorly executed in this picture, a quick listen to this track will reveal the cause -- this guy yocks it up in his solo commentary but he's the only one laughing. Later, actor George Back (he plays the obligatory obese-and-sensitive linebacker, Buddy Boy) steps into the recording studio and simply embarrasses himself with some sort of smarmy bit of self-congratulation. After this comes a collection of what appears to be seven featurettes; these are silly spots that collectively amount to only (thankfully?) 16 minutes of useless behind-the-scenes stupidity. Then there are 13 deleted scenes -- amounting to just 13 minutes combined -- that are likewise useless.
There aren't enough yellow flags that can be thrown to properly communicate just how offensively unfunny this film is. And there isn't a gavel big enough to indicate just how guilty The Comebacks is of illegal use of film and DVD resources.
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2008 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Director's Commentary
* "A Laugh of Their Own"
* "Heartland Hotties vs. Lone Star Naughties"
* "The Karaoke Kid"
* "Coach Koechner"
* "Million Dollar Booty"
* "The Mighty Dicks"
* "Razor Blades of Glory"
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site