The Comebacks

on October 19, 2007 by Chad Greene

With his Heartland State Comebacks down by five touchdowns at halftime, Coach Lambeau Fields (David Koechner) runs into the opposing head coach—his former assistant Freddie Wiseman (Carl Weathers)—on his way into the locker room.

“Ready to give up?” Wiseman taunts.

“Almost,” Coach Fields concedes.

The filmmakers responsible for this not-so-lovable loser of a comedy, however, gave up long before scripting and shooting that exchange. (That it takes place, by the way, at a conference championship game called the Toilet Bowl, seems altogether appropriate.)

The Comebacks is the Scary Movie of sports spoofs—not so much an actual film as it is a collection of loosely related parodies of everything from Radio and Rudy to Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights. About the only compliment that could conceivably be paid to screenwriters Ed Yeager and Joey Gutierrez is that they manage to simultaneously mock both Bend It Like Beckham and Necessary Roughness in a single scene by specifying that the female soccer star drafted to be the football team’s kicker be of Indian descent.

Even that, though, hints at their lackluster quantity-over-quality approach to this assignment. Instead of exerting the effort to make any of their football-film parodies legitimately funny, they simply chuck in unrelated spoofs of Dodgeball, Drumline, Field of Dreams, Miracle, Rocky Balboa and Stick It. Some of these are so tenuous that they feel the need to tip their hand through dialogue, as when quarterback Lance Truman (Matthew Lawrence) sees Coach Field’s rebellious daughter Michelle (Brooke Nevin) walking around with a wetsuit and a surfboard in a landlocked Texas town and calls out to her, “Hey, Blue Crush.” Which is supposed to be funny, see, because in Blue Crush, a quarterback fell in love with a surfer … aw, forget it.

Speaking of stuff that’s forgettable, here’s the plot: Coach Fields is one of the greatest losers in the history of sports, a man who’s proven himself capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory again and again … and again. But, as his wife (Melora Hardin) has learned the hard way, coaching is in his blood “like hepatitis C or traces of cocaine,” so when he’s offered one last shot at gridiron glory with a team of ragtag recruits, he can’t say no.

If only someone involved in the production of The Comebacks could’ve said it, and taken the advice of the Heartland State’s star receiver (Jackie Long) to his fumble-prone quarterback: “Why don’t you pretend this whole thing is a football, and drop it?”

Distributor: Fox Atomic
Cast: David Koechner, Carl Weathers, Melora Hardin, Matthew Lawrence, Brooke Nevin, Nick Searcy, Noureen DeWulf, Jesse Garcia, Jackie Long, Robert Ri’chard, Martin Spanjers and Jermaine Williams
Director: Tom Brady
Screenwriters: Ed Yeager & Joey Gutierrez
Producers: Peter Abrams, Robert L. Levy, Andrew Panay and Peter Rice
Genre: Sports comedy
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout and some drug material
Running time: 84 min.
Release date: October 19, 2007

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