Image Entertainment // 2011 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // January 9th, 2012
I admit total ignorance in the face of anything having to do with divisions and conferences and any kind of hierarchy in organized sports, college or professional. I know that baseball has major and minor leagues, pro football has the AFC and NFC, and the NCAA has divisions. Beyond that I know nothing about how they organize things by geography, nor how rankings are accomplished between teams in different or the same divisions. Luckily for me, Division III: Football's Finest (Blu-ray) makes a joke in its title that spells out Division III's status at the bottom of the pack. It also tells me that this is going to be another riff on the Bad News Bears' ragtag team template of sports movies. The back of the box helpfully tells us that the film is in the vein of Bad Santa and Bad Teacher, but they spared us calling this one Bad Coach. If you like football, filth, and Andy Dick, this is the flick for you.
Rick Vice (Andy Dick, Old School) is a coach with a nasty past (including the attempted killing of a team of Pee Wee players), but when the Pulham Blue Cocks lose their coach to a death on the sidelines, they have no choice but to bring him in. He's coaching the lowest of the low, but maybe he can turn the Blue Cocks around.
Just from the synopsis you can tell what kind of level Division III is working on: the main character's name is Rick (a.k.a. Dick) Vice, and the team he's coaching is called the Blue Cocks. This is not subtle, intellectual comedy. We're looking at broad, usually sexual jokes or ones that revolve around the fact that Rick Vice is a redneck (and crazy to boot). Immediately, the film loses a few points for being about football. No, it's not that there are no good football comedies (I assure you, there are), but rather that Bad Coach is a bad idea for a movie. The reason that Bad Santa and Bad Teacher work is because Santa and teachers aren't supposed to be bad. Coaches, on the other hand, are often tough guys who put their players through all kinds of crazy stuff. Sure, in real life they're not as crazy as Vice (who would have been sued for sexual harassment a dozen times throughout the season portrayed here), but I bet more coaches could get ideas from him than teachers would get from Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher.
Of course that's not enough to make or break the movie. Even if the idea of a crazy coach isn't as outrageous as it could be, the person playing the coach makes all the difference. So really, it's Andy Dick who makes or breaks Division III: Football's Finest. For me, he's just not enough. I've never liked Dick's obnoxious brand of comedy; it too often seems like he's flailing for a joke instead of landing intentional punch lines. That's a bit in evidence here as well, with his redneck shtick based largely on being a jerk to his players. To be fair, though, Dick takes to his character perfectly, going as far out as necessary to make Rick Vice a true psycho. I'm not a fan of Andy Dick, but I wouldn't blame his fans for appreciating his performance here, since it feels more focused than some of his other work.
Aside from Dick, the rest of the film isn't particularly remarkable. This film has exactly what viewers would expect from an underdog sports movie. The rest of the cast is solid, though a bit unremarkable, and the path to the end is predictable though still fairly satisfying.
As befits a so-so comedy, Division III gets a so-so Blu-ray release. The film has a generally bright, clean transfer, but fine object detail isn't up to snuff. Colors are pretty well saturated, but overall the presentation is a bit flat. The DTS-HD track is a total waste for this dialogue-heavy. Despite some heavy onscreen football action, there is very little use of the soundscape or the low end of the spectrum. Extras start with a commentary featuring stars Andy Dick and Marshall Cook (who also both contributed to the screenplay). It's exactly the commentary the film deserves, with a few laughs, but overall only for those who like Dick (See what I did there? That's the level of comedy for this film). There are also 9 minutes of outtakes and 2 minutes of a gag reel, mostly featuring Dick mugging for the camera. Finally, the DVD includes almost 20 minutes of deleted scenes. They're not great, but on par with anything in the finished film.
Division III: Football's Finest was not at all my cup of tea. I'm guessing it's not going to be to most people's taste, unless they're fans of Andy Dick's brand of extreme comedy. The Blu-ray disc is only passable, so it's hard to recommend more than a rental even for fans.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes