Judge Christopher Kulik's bowling league team used to be called Expletive Deleted...no joke!
Our review of Strike, published November 5th, 2007, is also available.
To become a legend in professional sports, it takes passion, courage and enormous BALLS.
When I received Strike to review, exceedingly low expectations erupted. (Hey, just take one look at the cover and you should know what I'm talking about.) It looked like one of those amateurish and crude '80s comedies with such inane titles as Stewardess School and Hot Dog…The Movie. My fear was greatly enhanced by the presence of Tara Reid, the American Pie graduate whose acting skills (or lack thereof) are comparable to those of an Olsen or a Lohan. Oh, and here's the real kicker: she's not only the co-star, but also a first-time producer(!), with her kid brother Tommy serving as director. Oh, the humanity! That all being said, I must confess that Strike wasn't quite the god-awful mess I expected…but it certainly doesn't live up to its title, either.
Wannabe-actor Ross (Ross Patterson, The New Guy) hates his job as a pizza-delivery guy. The only escapes he has from his boring life are his best friend Mike (Clayne Crawford, A Walk To Remember), his supportive girlfriend Lindsay (Reid, Van Wilder), and the bowling alley. One day, Ross dons a '70s-style wardrobe (for pizzazz purposes) and goes to the alley to chuck a few balls down the lane. Ross' 250+ average catches the eye of PBA Chairman Buddy (Ray Wise, Good Night And Good Luck) who offers Ross a spot on the upcoming national tour. At first Ross resists, but Mike and Lindsay coax him into it…considering the fact he just got fired and they need the money to pay the bills.
Before the tour, Buddy makes a request to Ross to wear his flashy outfits, as it would no doubt increase the ratings. Within a week, the competitor transforms himself into the pimp-ish Ross Vegas and turns Lindsay into main squeeze Lil Reno. As for Mike, he becomes Ross' manager, and gets more excited when some of the sponsors are breweries giving out free beer to the winners. As Ross wins more and more events, he becomes an instant celebrity with his enthusiastic, yet unorthodox bowling behavior. However, Lindsay and Mike begin to feel left out, coming off as mere backdrop players to Ross' wild antics, making him a complete stranger to them. When his friends walk out on him at a L.A. party thrown in his honor, Ross continues to rake in the cash…but is it what he really wants?
Strike is one giant, raunchy ball of clichés. Aspiring to be a cross between Happy Gilmore and Kingpin, the film makes The Big Lebowski look like Some Like It Hot. The story is so predictable and mind-numbing that virtually everything is telegraphed in the first 15 minutes. Add in some scenes with the characters buzzing on weed, occasional nudity, dull bowling sequences, and some loud music, and you have Strike in a nutshell. It has no real goal other than to be funny, and while there are scattered laughs, it's not nearly enough to recommend as a rental. It's too self-satisfied with its silly bowling hijinx and lame friendship message for us to really to care because we've seen this all before…and better.
On the plus side, there is a host of colorful characters. Cult favorite Vinnie Jones (The Midnight Meat Train) appears as a British bowler with an attitude problem. Robyn Lively (The Karate Kid Part III) provides the requisite eye candy, something which the overrated Reid fails miserably at. Wise is always watchable, even in dumb comedies like this one. Finally, it's great to see Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds) again, here playing the leader of a bowling team comprised entirely of swingers.
Ultimately, Strike blows because of two destructive debits. One is the unfunny dialogue, and the other is Patterson's smug, flagrantly annoying performance. And guess what: Patterson is also responsible for writing the sorry, ill-conceived script, which must have approved by a drunken Syd Field. Ross' manic energy gave me a real headache, making me want to slap this guy silly and throw him down the lane, Jackass-style.
Anchor Bay gives Strike an OK treatment on DVD. The 1.78 anamorphic image is clean for the most part, but also undistinguished. Occasional grain is present, and black levels are not as sharp as they could be. The 5.1 Surround track fares better, with dialogue easily heard (unfortunately) and the music given a nice boost. Extras are a virtual gutter ball, however, with the sole option being a 5-minute behind-the-scenes look at the movie. Blah!
The supporting cast is free to go, but Patterson and Strike are found guilty.
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