Lionsgate // 1992 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 28th, 2010
Getting respect is one big goal.
There must be some kind of big deal soccer event happening that would prompt the release of this forgettable farce, right?
In 1992, comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield (Back to School) and rising star Jonathan Brandis teamed up for a familiar take on the underdog sports comedy with a slight twist: cheating!
To earn the good will of his boss, Chester Lee (Dangerfield) agrees to coach the company all-girls soccer team. Thinking at first it was going to be a cakewalk, he discovers that he's inherited a team of weirdos. Fearing retribution over a losing season, Chester enlists the help of his girlfriend's son, Matthew (Brandis). And by "enlists the help" I mean "gives him a wig makes him run around on a soccer field, humiliating a bunch of little girls."
Aside from the spark of soccer interest the World Cup has generated, what other reason is there for us to be subjected once more to this predictable, unfunny film? I don't even think the disc-case synopsis writers know as they actually utilize the sentence "In the spirit of Kicking and Screaming" to hock the disc. Kicking and Screaming, by the way, is another predictable, unfunny soccer movie.
Ladybugs is a relic, a disposable piece of fluff that works hard to add a wrinkle to the well-flogged underdog sports flick formula and ultimately fails in a fashion that is far too dull to tag with the adverb "dramatically."
Dangerfield is the funniest element here, but even his usual dependable one-liner production suffers (a combination, no doubt, of the PG-13 rating and a half-baked script). His stuff is too uneven, with only a handful of jokes hitting the bulls-eye, and most offering up a cringe-worthy experience. And let's not even talk about the corny, fourth-wall breaking final line (spoiler: he may or may not finally get respect).
Look, I can handle a formulaic family flick (despite the oddly crude dialogue that sometimes surfaces; seems to me a PG-13 rating, as soft as it is, sort of eliminates a key demo), and the fact that it isn't very funny isn't anything new and exciting. But at the very least give me someone to root for! Who in this enterprise is worth our sympathy? No one! Not Chester or Matthew or Jackee or the scumbag CEO or anyone clued into this cross-dressing scheme. These people are nothing but giant cheaters. Dressing up a skilled male soccer player who runs over girls? How are we supposed to pull for the Ladybugs when they're up to these kinds of shenanigans? And its not like they're being subtle about it. It's just Matthew with a wig on. He still looks like a boy. He runs like a boy. And he doesn't make any effort to mask his relatively deep voice. The Ladybugs front office is essentially daring the league to call them on this malfeasance. Then again, if the opposing coaches are so stupid they can't tell that there's a dude doing laps around their confused girls, they deserve to get trounced.
There's nothing to this Blu-ray save for the expected bumps in technical merits. Video quality (1.85:1) is high-performing easily distinguishable from its DVD counterpart. As pointless as this movie is, the bright, colorful picture quality lends itself well to high-definition. Don't expect much from the DTS-HD Master Audio mix, which is relegated to dialogue and the occasional peppy montage music. Zero extras accompany.
Maybe there's an active Ladybugs subculture out there, because I can't think of any decent reason why this hobbled mess of a comedy should receive the high-def makeover when Gymkata's just sitting there, waiting.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13