Varsity Blues (1999)
Director: Brian Robbins
Writer: W. Peter Iliff
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Scott Caan, Ron Lester, Paul Walker, Amy Smart
My rating: 4.5 (out of 5) Stars!
Here we go. Only been a day and already on two round 2 of "The Archives Report". Trying to stay busy while looking for a job and watching a lot of series and movies. It didn't take me long to stumble through "The Archives" looking for movies I hadn't seen yet, when I settled on Varsity Blues.
Varsity Blues has everything you want in a movie. Football, Women, and Cussing.
But seriously. It has all that. And more.
Varsity Blues is the story of the West Canaan Coyotes, and their worshiped coach, Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight; National Treasure, Holes) who has become obsessed with winning and nothing else. So obsessed that he puts his All-American quarterback, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker; The Fast and the Furious, She's All That), in danger.
And inevitably, danger gets the better of Harbor, when Kilmer puts a concussed Billy Bob (Ron Lester; Good Burger, Not Another Teen Movie) back on the offensive line and he falters, causing a career-ending injury to Harbor.
Thus the reigns go to back-up, academically proficient, and altogether underrated quarterback John "Mox" Moxon (James Van Der Beek; Dawson's Creek, Rules of Attraction), and he surprises the West Canaan world by winning his game. And, despite the coaches lack of faith, "Mox" gets his best friends Billy Bob, running back Wendell Brown (Eliel Swinton) and wide receiver Charlie Tweeder (Scott Caan; Ocean's Eleven, Entourage) on his side immediately, with the rest of the team at their heels. Although, he has to win over (or maybe just, win back?) the support of the oh-so-common "football movie female", Lance's Sister, Julie (Amy Smart; Road Trip, Just Friends)
I won't give away more of the plot than that (for those of you who haven't seen it), but as you can probably guess: it thickens.
I watched this thinking that it was just another football movie, and I was partially right. There is always a superficial feeling that football movies give when the team wins. It just happens, but looking for that off the bat...I wasn't disappointed at all.
My biggest compliment to the whole film would have to be the acting. All of the parents and adults in the football town were (to the best of my knowledge and experience) hauntingly accurate. Their obsession with living vicariously through their children and letting the football team get away with anything was something that I can't say I never witnessed first hand. Of course, we can't forget that Mox's folks ignored their non-football-playing son until he all but started a cult.
I thought that Lester, Caan, Swinton, and Walker played the supporting roles and football-playing best friends beautifully. Each with their own element to the character, and each one delivering something beautiful to the film.
Amy Smart honestly showed me some of the best acting I've ever seen from her. I thought everything I'd seen of hers was good (being a big fan of Rat Race and Road Trip myself) but her role in this movie blew my mind.
But of course, toss the big trophies on over to Jon Voight and James Van Der Beek. Voight, being the upstanding, experienced, brilliant actor that he is, was expected to be good, but this ruthless coach (who nearly kills 4 of his players) was more than I expected out of Voight. Brilliant is the only word I have to describe it.
And Van Der Beek's "Mox" was a 1999 Tim Tebow...with a little more of the real world on his shoulders. Don't get me wrong, I love Tim Tebow, but Mox was a better football player and struggled with some different things. His genuine nature, lovable, courageous spirit, and knack for always doing the right thing, even when it was so easy for him to do the wrong one (and he had good reason to) was what made his character so great for me. And of course, now that Tebow's out there, we know that this character isn't as much of a stretch as one might originally have hypothesized.
All in all this movie was great. The soundtrack was great (highlighted by Green Day's "Nice Guys Finish Last"). The story was real. I felt what the characters felt. I got on the edge of my seat during games, and I cheered when the fans did. If that's the goal of a football movie, then I say mission accomplished. Not as "Disney" as Remember the Titans..but then again...what is?
Thanks for listening/reading! Feedback and Similar/different opinions are always welcomed! Love ya!