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The Comebacks (2007)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/29/2008

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/17/2008

In 1980 Airplane! set the tone for the modern-day spoof movie. And over the years, movies in this genre have popped up from time to time. But, we've seen a growth in the number of spoofs being made today, especially those which directly parody other movies. And if you think about it, it makes sense, as these movies don't demand a huge budget. As they are copying other films, there shouldn't be much work on production design, and in a similar sense, the writers simply need to insert jokes into an established plot. However, most of these recent films have been real stinkers. Will The Comebacks buck that trend?

The Comebacks spoofs sports movies, specifically Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights. David Koechner stars as Coach Lambeau Fields, the worst coach in sports history. After failing at coaching every sport, Coach has made a career of retrieving semen samples from race horses. He's approached by his old colleague Freddie Wiseman (Carl Weathers) and offered the job of coaching the Heartland State College football team, who are called The Comebacks. Coach accepts the job and moves his family to rural Texas, despite the protests of his juvenile delinquent/gymnast daughter, Michelle (Brooke Nevin). Once at the college, Coach finds a ragtag group of losers which he attempts to mold into a team. As Coach searches for players to round out his squad, he sort of receivers pressure from the locals concerning his future success. As the team struggles on the field, Coach ponders his own abilities.

The Comebacks resides somewhere between genre satires such as Airplane! and direct spoofs like Epic Movie. And as far as quality, it leans more towards the lame shenanigans of Epic Movie and Date Movie, but it's not quite as bad as those movies.

Actually, The Comebacks has more in common with the films of the Scary Movie franchise. Unlike Epic Movie and Date Movie, which are simply random scenes taken from other movies strung together (making them feel like a really long, really bad episode of Mad TV, The Comebacks in fact has a linear plot. Of course, within this linear plot, which again follows sports movies such as Remember the Titans, we get many scenes which parody specific movies, such as Bend it Like Beckham, Rocky, and Stick it. The movie also digs up every stereotype from sports movies, like the cocky player, the angry player, the doomed player, and the nerdy player who just wants a chance.

Clearly the writers of The Comebacks (who are too numerous to mention) have done their homework and worked in many, many jokes which make fun of other movies. And like any film in this genre, the jokes are very hit or miss. And many of the jokes here miss. The Comebacks falls prey to the same problem that so many of these movies face -- the jokes are simply too predictable and easy. I would say that at least 70% of the gags here are things which any average person would think of while watching the movie. And this raises the question, why would we go out of our way, or for that matter, pay for something that we could come up with ourselves?

The only thing working in favor of The Comebacks is that the other 30% of those jokes contain some funny moments. Oddly, most of these come from the more subtle, dialogue-driven moments than from the broad, over-the-top ones. There is also a music video parody which younger viewers simply won't get. The funny lines to get help from the fact that the film contains some seasoned actors. David Koechner probably wasn't the best choice to carry a film, but he does a good job and his natural energy and goofiness helps. And, it's always great to see Carl Weathers at work. The best part of the movie comes from the townspeople who threaten Coach, as the guys are played by a group of familiar funny men.

The Comebacks certainly isn't the best spoof movie, but it's better than some of the other entries which we've seen recently. If you are the kind of person who has grown very tired of the cliches in sports movies, then this may be worth a rental.

The Comebacks sprints for the end zone on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in separate rated and unrated versions. For the purposes of this review, only the unrated version was screened. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Please keep in mind that I watched a special preview disc for this review, so the following issues may only apply to it. The transfer here suffers from many problems. For starters, the image is far too bright. But, it's an odd brightness. The colors, such as reds and greens, look OK, but the backgrounds are totally washed out, looking as though the film was overly lit. The movie was shot on HD so it doesn't suffer from any grain or defects from the source material, but the transfer does show some shimmering and pixellation. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are OK, but the track really comes to life during the game sequences, as the crowd noises come from the rear speakers and the crushing tackles provide some nice subwoofer effects.

The Comebacks DVD has a surprisingly long list of brief bonus features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Tom Brady, who is eventually joined by actor George Back. Brady does an OK job here, describing the production and the actors, but he attempts to insert far too many jokes into the chat, and as he's by himself, they are apparently for his benefit only. "A Laugh of Their Own" (5 minutes) looks at the scenes in which actual athletes Michael Irvin, Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson, Bill Buckner, and Dennis Rodman have cameos, with lots of on-set hijinks. "Heartland Hotties vs. Lone Star Naughties" (2 minutes) is odd on-set video of cheerleading squads from the movie. "The Karaoke Kid" (2 minute) shows the cast fooling around and singing a song. Was this supposed to be in the movie? "Coach Koechner" (2 minutes) shows Koechner playing with the crew. "Million Dollar Booty" (1 minute) has a booty-shaking contest. No, I'm serious. "The Mighty Dicks" (3 minutes) features alternate takes from Andy Dick. "Razor Blades of Glory" (3 minutes) is actually worth watching as it offers alternate takes from the cameo-laden crew in the barber shop. After all of this, we are treated to 13 DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes. There are actually some funny moments here.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long