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Case Number 23655

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Screwball: The Ted Whitfield Story

Anchor Bay // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 11th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson corks his bat when he plays wiffleball.

The Charge

Two nuts, one legend.

Opening Statement

Does professional wiffleball supply fertile comedy soil to till?

Facts of the Case

Ted "The Wiffler" Whitfield (Ross Patterson) is regarded as the greatest professional wiffleball player in the history of professional wiffleball. This hard-hitting "documentary," aims to tell the story of his meteoric rise and terminal velocity fall. Together, with his best friend and teammate Willie Hamilton (Joey Kern, ), the duo set the league on fire and challenge multiple records, the tastiest of which was the all-time home run crown. But the pressure to grab the record sends Ross off the deep end and into a steroid-infused freefall. Also, dick jokes.

The Evidence

Know this much: these guys are working hard to get you to laugh at their movie. Screwball is distilled comic mediocrity, but it's not for a lack of effort. Between the writers—committed to filling their script with as many jokes as possible—and the actors, it's a total team endeavor to squeeze some laughs out of the audience. And while we're not looking at a spoof in the gag-a-second vein of Airplane! or The Naked Gun, Screwball boasts an impressive per capita of joke attempts. Unfortunately, very few of them hit, leaving the entire enterprise flagging.

Because I found Kern and Patterson likable and didn't feel my intelligence was being treated like a urinal cake—unlike the terrors that pass for spoofs these days (Pro Tip: the word "Movie" can typically be found in the title)—I'm going give these dudes more bandwidth than they deserve.

Watching Screwball didn't fuel contempt—a plus when it comes to many straight-to-DVD comedies—and did elicit a few laughs. The gags that worked tended to be more throwaways than sustained set-ups, like Ted's off-handed comments about the dearth of sexual contact (or any contact) with his new wife or Willie's profession as a door-to-door kiddie pool salesman.

While there are plenty of F-bombs and potty talk, Screwball resists the urge to riddle itself with cheap gross-out moments, the last bastion for lazy screenwriters. I can conjure up a few atoms of respect for that. In the end, the joke-to-laugh ratio just doesn't work in their favor, and he wiffleball environment is largely wasted, leading me to think it was chosen just because it's fun to say "wiffleball."

Anchor Bay's DVD is threadbare: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 surround, and no extras.

Closing Statement

Sporadically funny moments aren't enough to move the needle on this mockumentary. A for effort, though!

The Verdict

Wiff.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 75
Story: 65
Judgment: 66

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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