A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that because this sports-movie spoof has been marketed as being from the creators of Wedding Crashers, it's definitely going to appeal to teens. Originally rated R (it got its PG-13 on appeal), it has a lot of sexual references -- mostly through double entendres and sight gags (a wife is caught in bed with another man, a girl gymnast makes several lesbian jokes, etc.) -- though no actual nudity. There's also drinking and drug use, particularly on the part of the crazy coach who wants his players to learn how to party. Some language ("s--t") and cartoonish, slapstick-type violence.
What's the story?
David Koechner isn't an actor whose name most moviegoers likely recognize, but he's got one of those unforgettably funny faces. He's a second-tier member of the Will Ferrell/Steve Carell comedy frat pack and has appeared in Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Reno 911!: Miami, and many more. And while it's high time that Koechner landed a leading role in a comedy, THE COMEBACKS isn't worthy of his talent. Basically an Epic Movie-style spoof of sports flicks, The Comebacks follows the same predictable plot formula as many of the "inspiring true stories" it's mocking. Koechner plays Lambeau Fields (yes, like the home of the Green Bay Packers), an infamously bad coach who's hired to lead a small Texas college football team. Their name: The Comebacks.
Is it any good?
Despite spoofing elements of every sports movie from Rudy to Radio to the TV version of Friday Night Lights, the jokes often fall flat. Anyone over the age of 8 could explain why a "wiener joke" is infantile, and showing a close-up of gymnasts spreading their legs open is just plain gross. Apparently the screenwriters weren't aiming high, because The Comebacks's obvious humor makes the Scary Movie series look like Shakespearean comedy.
The film's only highlights are the various cameos from Koechner's comedic pals. Will Arnett (The Brothers Solomon), Kerri Kenney-Silver (Reno 911!), Dax Shepard (Let's Go to Prison), and Finesse Mitchell (Saturday Night Live) are just some of the comic actors who pop up. But they can't save this mess from being a major fumble.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between a parody and its source material. Is it easy to identify which movies are being spoofed here? Which gags work, and which aren't funny? Do you think anyone will find any of it funny decades from now, when half of the references will have been forgotten? Do you think the filmmakers care about that? Why or why not? Also, the coach demands that his players start failing class and party more; is that believable? Are sports movies as predictable as this comedy suggests? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing?
- In theaters: October 19, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 29, 2008
- Cast: Carl Weathers, David Koechner, Melora Hardin
- Director: Tom Brady
- Studio: Fox Atomic
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content throughout and some drug material (re-rated on appeal).
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