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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: The Comebacks

Synopsis

A hilarious comedy that spoofs the best inspirational sports movies ever made, The Comebacks tells the story of an out-of-luck coach, Lambeau Fields (David Koechner), who takes a rag-tag bunch of college misfits and drives them towards the football championships. In the process, this life-long loser discovers that he is a winner after all by redeeming himself, saving his relationship with his family and friends, and finding that there is indeed, no "I" in "team"! 

Creating a film that did not just go from joke to joke or from skit to skit was important to all the filmmakers.  They agreed that if they created a story with characters that the audience could get behind and root for, the jokes would play off that foundation and ring true.

Interview with The Comebacks stars

Review

By Rick Duran

The Comebacks is the latest spoof film, in the same fashion as Epic Movie, Date Movie and the Scary Movie series, this time tackling sports movie genre. Truth be told, it’s a marketing mystery as to why it was not titled Sports Movie. This time around, the lead role is played by comedic veteran (Anchorman’s David Koechner) rather than the teen movie all-stars that tend to headline these films. That primary difference is very noticeable as Koechner bounces from scene to scene with ease, clearly showcasing his expertise in sketch comedy. However, it’s this spoof comedy format that limits Koechner from delivering the laughs his performance aims for.

The premise is simple: Koechner is Coach “Lambeau Fields,” a failed team leader in seemingly every sport, hired to turnaround a losing team. The man who suggested the job (Carl Weathers) is also his rival, the #1 coach in the nation. Along the way, Coach Field’s wife (The Office’s Melora Hardin) argues that he is neglecting his family. Meanwhile, his daughter (Brooke Nevin) falls in love with two of the Comebacks’ star players. That’s essentially as much plot as you need to know.

To argue the artistic merit of spoof films is pointless as the recent crop from the past five years have turned out easy profit for the studios. However, the ultimate question is, “Did it make you laugh?” More often than not, the answer for this film is no. There is nothing wrong with broad humor; often times, it can be easy fun you can turn your brain off and enjoy. The problem here is so many of the easy jokes fall flat that it ultimately becomes frustrating. The sports film is a self-important, repetitive genre that deserves to be spoofed, but how many emasculating gags does it really need? For example: the oppressive alcoholic father of a player is a Cher and Christina Aguilera impersonator. We see the burly man in full drag… three separate times. His son, the pretty boy quarterback (Matthew Lawrence) works out in ballerina outfits… and wears g-strings… and can’t get a grip on his girlfriend’s football-padded bra. The team’s star wide receiver has a pink locker full of My Little Pony dolls and gets very angry when one is missing. The team’s gangster-wannabe gets excited for milk at a frat party so he can finally “eat his Fruity Flakes.”  

Also, if many of the sports film references are not obvious enough, the dialogue will make it very clear for you: “I see you’ve brought your Gridiron Gang,” “Hold it there, Blue Crush” “This week, we’re playing the Friday Night Lights.” I must stress that I’m fully aware of how these films are not geared towards the thinking man’s crowd. But this movie falls flat where easy laughs could have been delivered. There’s nothing wrong with slapstick pratfalls, but here they are dragged out far past being funny. Pain-based humor works when the impact is quick and the reaction is shocked. Sliding down a table like Wile E. Coyote or mannequins tumbling down bleachers like Homer Simpson just doesn’t cut it. The Dodgeball spoof takes a dark turn where you wonder why its victim manages to return from. By the way, why spoof a comedy that already mocked sports competition? Even many of the cameos are completely wasted. Sure, you’ll see Old School’s Andy Dick, Blades of Glory’s Will Arnett, Idiocracy’s Dax Shepard and Wedding Crashers’ Bradley Cooper. Considering their collective comedy resumes, you’d assume there are many laughs in store. I dare you to remember one big joke or line that any of these guys were allowed.

You may be wondering what did work, and seeing The Comebacks probably won’t change that. One of the few redeeming factors is David Koechner’s performance. The loose nature of this film allows him to showcase his sharp comedic timing and penchant for physical humor based on body language and posture. Honestly, the way he carries his torso for awkward stands and walks will remind you why he works so well with Will Ferrell. Many punch lines are based on Coach Fields’ stupidity, such as turning away many potential athletes. Koechner’s delivery of a one-liner about an STD presents the film’s biggest laugh (which is unfortunately repeated later.)  Even if you were on the fence about David Koechner’s appeal, this film does show the potential for better roles. Unfortunately, the jokes in The Comebacks don’t allow him to score where necessary. But have no mistake, he carries what little appeal is left in this film.

Koechner's chemistry with his Office co-star Melora Hardin makes you strive to see them in a better film. During their many arguments, it’s easy to picture Koechner’s 40 Year-Old Virgin “Health Clinic Dad” coming home to Hardin’s Jan from The Office. These two are a great match, but the lines they are given just doesn’t do them justice. Likewise, there are humorous cameos by twin brothers Jason and Randy Sklar (Entourage, Grey’s Anatomy), in addition to SNL’s Finesse Mitchell doing his best Denzel Washington impression, both cases bringing some of the film’s better moments.

The Comebacks was never geared for positive reviews or lengthy analysis. The Scary Movie franchise has created a built-in teen audience who will ultimately bring this movie into the profit margin. This film won’t appeal to anyone that isn’t a fan of recent spoof films. You either hate or tolerate it, with no medium in between. It plays like a live action cartoon, with very few jokes pushing its PG-13 limits.

For all its flaws, David Koechner is amusing. With a better script, he could have been hilarious. But funny timing and posture aside, a comedian is at the mercy of his punch lines. The Comebacks is 1.3 rating, but the effort of David Koechner pushes it to a 1.8 rating.  Rewatching some scenes on Youtube, the film plays better as a series of skits rather than an entire film. But again, ranting about a review-proof genre is a battle not worth fighting.

Promotional Items

by Amy Gilbert

The University of Oklahoma store was giving stuff away. A sales kid at the OU store gave them to me after I helped a customer - she rushed in asking for a "onesy" and in her state, couldn't explain what she was wanting. Anyway, he had no idea what she was talking about, so I directed her to the baby clothing on the opposite wall. He put the extra items in my bag and thanked me for helping out.

I used to live in Norman. This time of year, the entire town lives and breathes football. Probably the promoters thought it was a great place to drum up interest.


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