I've enjoyed the last couple of "Scary Movie" films, as the parodies have been handled well by director David Zucker and writer Jerry Abrahams. The "Scary Movie" films, while remarkably lowbrow, also have a fine ensemble cast. The success of the "Scary" films, however, have resulted in a series of parodies that don't seem to have much desire to, you know, actually work to build a joke off of a popular scene instead of largely repeating the scene in question.
While "The Comebacks" isn't the worst of the new league of parody films (sports movies are certainly ripe for parody), its batting average is low enough to send it to the bench. The film, directed by Tom Brady (no, not that Tom Brady), focuses on Lambeau Fields (David Koechner), the worst coach in history (as an early sequence shows, he was responsible for Bill Buckner's disasterous play in the '86 World Series.)
After hitting the lowest point in his life, Fields is recruited to be the coach for a down-and-way out college football team at Heartland U. The film proceeds largely as one might expect, comfortable in referencing several films ("Stick It", a very random "Blue Crush" reference) instead of truly parodying them. However, a few moments here-and-there worked somewhat - the coach becomes furious when the entire team makes the dean's list and forces them to sign a contract to get D's and F's because that's the only way they can be truly successful and another scene the "Friday Night Lights" team forefits because there was "too much drama" occured the night before.
While a few things work moderately well, other things just fall flat, including a incredibly unfunny "Don't Stop Believin'" song-and-dance number, a Dennis Rodman cameo and a "Field of Dreams" gag that's idiotic. There's plenty of lowbrow slapstick that seems entirely halfhearted. There's just not enough gags that work to keep the film going for nearly 90 minutes (over 105 in this even longer unrated edition), and the middle of the film drags as a result.
The performances are a little better than the material, with Koechner trying his best to cut through some of the weaker bits in the script. Melora Hardin ("The Office"), Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") and Kerri Kenney ("Reno 911") also contribute decent supporting efforts. Overall, "The Comebacks" wasn't as bad as my expectations, but when my expectations are zero it's not too difficult to exceed them.
VIDEO: "The Comebacks" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered so-so image quality, with average sharpness/detail and some pixelation and shimmering. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy may offer differing image quality.
SOUND: "The Comebacks" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound design was purely a "comedy mix", with understandably little for the rear speakers to do aside from provide some slight ambience and reinforcement for the score. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: After director Tom Brady said early in his commentary (with actual seriousness) that his plans for "The Comebacks" were "very ambitious", I turned it off. Sorry, but I mean, geez - is he kidding?
We also get: "A Laugh of Our Own" featurette, "Karaoke Kid" featurette, "Coach Koechner" featurette, "Million Dollar Booty" (har har) featurette, "Mighty Dicks" (hysterical, isn't it?) featurette, "Razor Blades of Glory" featurette, deleted scenes and trailers for other Fox flicks.
Final Thoughts: "The Comebacks" isn't without a couple of chuckles, but the gags that fall flat outnumber the ones that manage to get a first down. This longer unrated cut of the film also manages to make an already thin film feel even more draggy in the middle.