The Comebacks (2007) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor and some drug material (initially rated R)
Running time:: 84 min.
Cast: David Koechner, Matthew Lawrence, Brooke Nevin, Nick Searcy, Jackie Long, Robert Ri'chard, Carl Weathers, Melora Hardin, George Back, Noureen DeWulf, Jesse Garcia, Martin Spanjers, Jermaine Williams,
Cameos: Finesse Mitchell, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Gries, Andy Dick, Eric Christian Olsen, Dennis Rodman, Bill Buckner, Eric Dickerson, Michael Irvin, John Salley, Lawrence Taylor
Director: Tom Brady
Screenplay: Ed Yeager, Joey Gutierrez
Review published October 29, 2007
The Comebacks is a very weak spoof on well-known recent sports films that succeeds in cramming as many different films in as it can, but fails to really capitalize on the humor value in satirizing them. It's a collection of moments that take scenes or characters similar to the ones you may remember in flicks like Radio, Friday Night Lights, Miracle, Remember the Titans, Invincible, Gridiron Gang, The Longest Yard, Bend It Like Beckham, Rocky, Stick It and several others, and converts them into slapstick or injects crass sexual innuendo. Although the decision to lampoon these feel-good sports dramas isn't a bad one, sadly, this movie doesn't come close to having the comedic juice to be worthwhile. Obvious jokes abound, such as the championship bowl game is the "Toilet Bowl" (who hasn't thought of that one?), and very dumb sight gags like a coach yelling to the refs after a missed call, "What are you, blind?," followed by a shot of the referees with sunglasses and white canes flailing about.
It's probably not worth going into the plot, as viewers are more likely trying this one out just to get a few yuks, but it does have one, so I'll briefly relate it. David Koechner (Barnyard, Talladega Nights) plays a man who has been involved with a variety of sports fiascos, never knowing what it's like to win on any level. He is asked to coach a college football team, The Comebacks, but his QB (Lawrence, The Hot Chick) is a fumbler, his RB (Ri'chard, House of Wax) gets on the IR and his wide receiver (Long, ATL) is not only a poor team player, but he's also involved in an interracial relationship with his sexpot daughter (Nevin, "The 4400"). With many distractions and terrible practice sessions, he has his work cut out for him for his team to live up to its name, and its potential.
Although there are easily over 100 jokes in its meager 84 minutes, you will probably be able to count on your fingers how many are actually amusing, even if you're already missing a hand. People have joked for years about Rocky Balboa being a geriatric fighter in the ring, so the joke is already as old in this flick, but the sight of him exploding into dust upon first contact still will merit a chuckle. As I mentioned, there is an inability to truly capitalize. For instance, in the cast, you have Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers (Predator), in your movie, and you don't include him in any of the Rocky gags -- and not even a Happy Gilmore reference either. On occasion, they get one in. Getting Bill Buckner to spoof his career-defining flub in the 1986 World Series is a highlight, showing him distracted by his coach who keeps pestering him for the solution to a crossword puzzle. It's far from the best gag, but the real-life Buckner is in it, which is the only reason it merits a laugh. These scenes prove more the exception than the norm.
However, most of the gags fall flat on their face, such as a recurring one involving players being hit by a speeding bus on the field. These very juvenile gags are closer in style to the recent lazy spoofs like Epic Movie and Date Movie than they are to Airplane or The Naked Gun. I think the key difference is that the successful satires are spoofs of genres, while the unsuccessful are merely spoofs of scenes in particular movies in a genre that require you to know and remember the individual characters and dialogue satirized. Given how scattershot the film is in approach, it isn't always easy to spot the movie they are trying to ridicule, especially since their targets aren't broadly popular.
When you find that the funniest thing about the film is seeing that it is directed by a man named Tom Brady (apparently NOT the All-Pro Patriots quarterback), and that isn't even meant to be a joke, you're in for a very long and excruciating time at the movies. Despite its title, this feeble attempt at a screwball comedy is eliminated from any chance to turn it around not long after the opening credits roll.
©2007 Vince Leo