Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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From the sublime to . . . well, something else

Less than 24 hours after seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age (see previous entry), I once again found myself in a movie theater. This time, the object of my attention was The Comebacks. It is basically a spoof of sports movies. It’s the kind of spoof that is festooned with references to other films, frequently parodying specific scenes. It’s also the sort of free-wheeling comedy that utilizes techniques one would more commonly see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Example: The coach looks out onto the field and says of his star running back, “Nothing can stop this kid!” Immediately, a bus comes roaring into frame on the football field and runs the kid over.

I have nothing against that approach to comedy – heck, Airplane was filled with that sort of thing and I laughed myself sick. What I DO have something against is that phenomenon known as “sucking,” which was, alas, this movie’s primary mode.

First, a word about the actors (a term I use liberally and charitably with regard to this film). The most recognizable face, to me anyway, was that of Carl Weathers, who played the role of the evil opposing coach. He is probably best remembered for the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky films, though I must admit I somehow always think of his tiny role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I’ll jog your memory – when Richard Dreyfuss first arrives in Wyoming and all the residents are being evacuated, Weathers plays the soldier who informs Dreyfuss, “We’ve got orders to shoot anybody looting around here.” Additional note: IMDB mis-identifies Weathers as playing an air traffic controller. But I digress.

The lead role of the hapless football coach is played by somebody named David Koechner. A check of his rap sheet on IMDB shows that he has worked a great deal over the years, including 20 appearances on Saturday Night Live, so he looked familiar though I could not place him. I could go on about how dreadful he was, but I really feel like cutting him a break. The fact is, he had nothing to work with. And the other fact is that I think he was exactly what the folks who wrote and directed this film wanted him to be – a pathetically unsubtle and graceless individual. I don’t think these filmmakers would have countenanced anything other than that, so I’m not laying this failure at the feet of David Koechner. I sincerely hope he may find other roles that will put this one far behind him.

Let me be fair here – there were various places where I giggled, smiled, and even tittered. I believe I may have laughed aloud once or twice. But that was all I got out of it – the other 98% of the moments that were supposed to be funny just didn’t work. And while I’m being fair, I have to say that this film had essentially the same plot as Elizabeth: The Golden Age. It’s kind of like this:

The main character in both films is a leader of men. Friends and foes alike have serious doubts about their ability to lead and to prevail victorious. Their personal lives and the chance for love seem to wither through their single-minded devotion to larger issues. Each is close to a young woman whom they regard in a parental manner. In both cases, the young woman is smitten with attraction to a young man who seems more than a little wild and untrustworthy, and our lead is powerless to affect their choices. We see the coming of a day when our lead will have no choice but to accept a battle against sinister forces. As the day of the final conflict draws near, betrayals are revealed. When the forces loyal to our lead are surrounded by seemingly superior forces and hope is wavering, our lead inspires their men to victory against all the odds.

So ultimately, I don’t suppose I can criticize one film without criticizing the other. Oh yeah, one other similarity – both films contained approximately the same number of laughs.

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