A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Balls Out is a raunchy, forgettable sports movie spoof about a college intramural football team. There's tons of sexual humor and innuendo, though no graphic sex scenes or nudity. Language is strong, with frequent use of everything from "s--t" to "bitch" and (not surprising, given the title) "balls." Violence -- all played for humor -- includes tackling and fighting on the football field, as well as threats/bullying and some fighting off the field. Two college students smoke pot and there's some social drinking and other drug references.
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What's the story?
Five years ago, Caleb (Jake Lacy) happily played college intramural flag football -- until a tricky play left his friend, Grant (Nick Kocher), paralyzed. Now, Caleb doesn't play anymore; instead, he studies for the LSATs and dates Vicky (Kate McKinnon), who's pushing him to marry her and join her father's firm. Not sure that that's what he wants to do, Caleb decides to reunite his team of lovable underdogs. Things get serious when an old rival, Dick (Beck Bennett), starts taunting him, and Caleb finds himself falling for Dick's sister, Meredith (Nikki Reed). And when the team needs him most, even Grant comes back, now fulfilling the role of inspirational coach. Will Caleb and the Panthers win the championship? (Duh.)
Is it any good?
These days, spoof movies are cheap and plentiful; they're usually lowest common denominator stuff, but with a handful of Saturday Night Live vets on board, this one fares slightly better. The makers of BALLS OUT are aware of every single sports movie cliché and have cheerfully packed them together. But rather than simply copying better-known scenes from better-known movies and throwing in gross-out gags, the film actually tries for its own unique sight gags and verbal wit.
The humor is still very broad and lowbrow, but that can be forgiven. Too bad it has other, severe limitations. Following even more sports movie conventions, it's unable to conjure up any truly carefree characters -- but at the same time, even the sympathetic characters are too silly to really care about. Because of this distancing, the movie's jokes are likely to fade from memory rather quickly, even if they do deliver a few decent chuckles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Balls Out's cartoonish violence. Did it make you laugh? What's the difference between cartoonish violence and more realistic violence? Which has more impact, and why?
How does the movie use sexual references and innuendo to create humor?
Did you notice any stereotypes? If so, what are they, and how could they have been presented differently? Is it OK to rely on stereotypes for laughs?
How is the movie's bully shown? What makes him a bully? How do the characters deal with him? Is he realistic? Does he share traits with any real-life bullies you may have encountered?
Why are sports movies so easy to spoof? Why do you think so many of them have similar plot elements?
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