Spoof movies have been wearing on me for the last few years. Complete travesties such as Date Movie & Epic Movie have soured my look on a favorite genre of mine. Where were the Mel Brooks classics or the Scary Movie series that I remember so well? Smart comedy and well done jokes about movies we have come to love. So, I’ll admit when I saw the Comebacks on DVD, all I could see was red and think the torture that was Epic Movie. I wanted to believe it could be as smart and zany as Blazing Saddles or at least in the same league as Scary Movie 3 or 4. I would hope that director Tom Brady would restore my faith in this once awesome genre.
Freddie Wiseman (played by Carl Weathers) visits the long forgotten Lambeau Fields (played by David Koechner), a coach whose only attribute is losing when it counts. Freddie convinces Lambeau to coach the Heartland State football team. Once Lambeau gets there, he struggles to put together a winning team. The team consists of various characters and stereotypes such as Trotter (played by Jackie Long) the pompous Terrell Owens wannabe, Lance Truman (played by Matthew Lawrence), the baseball pitcher turned quarterback, and Jizminder Featherfoot (played by Noureen DeWulf), the female kicker who should be in Bend It Like Beckham.
The team of players and personalities lose their first game but then little by little, they start to come together and play like a team should despite their biggest liability: their own coach. Lambeau has his own problems outside of the team: his wife (played by Melora Hardin)wants him to stop ignoring his family. His daughter, Michelle (played by Brooke Nevin)shows up with Trotter at first but finds her feelings to grow increasingly stronger towards the qb, Lance. Other factors show up at the end to thwart the team’s progress, but shortly we find out that the Comebacks are not a band of misfits (well maybe they are), but a team that can win the ultimate prize.
True to its word, The Comebacks is a spoof movie by every definition. The most obvious parodies include Remember the Titans, Radio, Rudy, Invincible and many others. The jokes fire fast, ripping one sports show after another. However, they don’t always find their target. Thankfully, there are hits than misses. The jokes try to stay away from the potty humor for the most part (though this might be hard when the final game is named the Toilet Bowl) and will make anybody who has lived thru a few hundred sports movie cliches laugh out loud at many moments. They also do a great job of including famous sports heroes such as Bill Buckner, Dennis Rodman, or Lawrence Taylor acting in various cameos for maximum effect.
But the movie is not without faults. The first major fault would be almost too much improvisation. I love improv jokes that come out of thin air. This movie seems to rely on them too much, making the whole production seem childish and more an exercise of this is what happens when a bunch of people get together with barely a script to work off of. The second issue has to do with their parody of Coach Carter, more specifically asking the students to receive failing grades rather than passing ones (In Coach Carter, Samuel Jackson’s character required the players to have a 2.3 GPA). I understand it is a joke and obvious rip, but it just came off wrong and probably should have been dusted all together.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. It looks strong and like any good sports film (parody or not), it is full of lush fields and detailed backgrounds. Due to the small college atmosphere, they benefited quite heavily from concentrating on the field and not on the stands. Everything looks quite good here (including Noureen DeWulf who was also in Killer Pad *whistle*) and no major faults can be found.
The audio is mixed in 5.1 English Dolby Digital (with a downmix 2.0 provided in Spanish). It’s adequate but never quite strong enough to hold. Most of the production stays in the center channel and doesn’t expand far enough in the surrounds to impress anyone. Dialog is clear thankfully but it again shows off the small production despite the ample cast of characters behind it. Subtitles are also provided in English, Spanish, and French.
- Automatic Trailers: The Onion Movie, Death Sentence, & Bachelor Party 2
- Audio Commentary with Director Tom Brady: Yes, yes not the NE QB. Not that I would want to hear from his sorry behind anyway. Go Giants. Tom is perfectly fine in this commentary mixing a little bit of humor with some good technical information. Much like the movie though, he explains too many of the obvious parodies rather than the jokes speaking for themselves.
- A Laugh of Their Own 5:08: Some good footage with the sports starts in the film including Michael Irvin, Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson, Bill Buckner and Dennis Rodman.
- Heartland Hotties vs Lone Star Naughties 1:45: Extra that comes off like a Bring it On extended joke. Complete with Cat Fight (two thumbs up of sorts).
- The Karaoke Kid 1:35: “The Bitch” by Jizminder. Well she might not have a career in music but she is hot.
- Coach Koechner 2:07: Mr. Lambeau himself in many assorted zany antics. He is a master of improv, that much is certain.
- Million Dollar Booty 1:00: Jermaine Williams (plays Ipod) introduces Aiesha who has quite the booty. Ummm, okay.
- The Mighty Dicks 2:31: Next to the deleted scenes, the best extra on this disc. Andy Dick proves he is one of the funniest and most off the wall actors in Hollywood. Here he plays his referee character to the fullest and provides many tiny outtakes that I wish would have found their way into the film.
- Razor Blades of Glory 3:28: The boys from the barber shop in more outtakes. Some hit, some miss, but funny overall.
- Deleted Scenes 12:46: Thirteen deleted scenes of various taste and color. Nothing too high on the must include list, just outtakes and extended scenes.
- Previews: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Drumline: Special Edition, Live Free or Die Hard, Dirty Laundry & Fox Sunday Night Line Up
I have faith. Well some. Some of my faith has been restored in the spoof genre. Despite the awful reviews in Rotten Tomatoes and the like for this film, I really see some potential here. The actors and actresses are strong and bring a lot to this film. The jokes fly fast and hard. The main problem here was that they didn’t let the jokes speak for themselves. Too often, the movie felt the need to tell you after a joke that hey we are parodying “insert movie here” (the most obvious one is Blue Crush). People like David Koechner, Jermaine Williams and Andy Dick literally stole the show and made the film watchable on many levels. The dvd provided ample technical details and will provide most with what they need in the audio & visual department. I have complete faith in director Tom Brady and look forward to his next spoof film if he decides to go that direction again. There is a good movie here, you just have to look past many “spoof movie” mistakes. Recommended for forgiving movie goers who want a good laugh.