With a screenplay by a young Judd Apatow based on an idea by Apatow and comedian Colin Quinn, one would be forgiven for expecting Celtic Pride to find time to be funny sometime in its punishing 91 minutes. Sadly, this 1996 relic, now unearthed for a thoroughly depressing 2018 Blu-ray, seems to have been completely lost somewhere between concept and execution. The idea of two overly-obsessed sports fans kidnapping the competition's star player is a funny one, but Celtic Pride fails to wring a single laugh out of it. Is it because neither Daniel Stern or Dan Aykroyd appear to have a grip on their loosely-formed characters? Is it because the entire star trio are all playing deeply unlikable people? Is it because the movie doesn't seem to have any allegiance to anything, whether that's an idea or a philosophy? Really, it's all of the above.
When we meet Mike, Carol is handing him divorce papers, because his mood swings are based on whether or not the Celtics are winning. For a minute, this seems like a rational set-up, but then the conversation turns to Mike's crushed dreams of being a professional basketball player himself. Right from the beginning, it's unclear whether or not we're supposed to find Mike's love of the game unhealthy or maybe a little sympathetic. After the title card, we're introduced to Jimmy, who takes time out of his busy schedule to watch some hockey on a client's big-screen TV. Jimmy reads like a comic caricature, a basement dweller-type who loves his vast array of expensive collectibles more than human interaction, which seems unlike the types of roles Aykroyd usually plays. It's clear that neither one of them is behaving the way they ought to be, but unclear exactly what the audience should be rooting for them to do instead.
Lewis, meanwhile, is clearly a bit of a villain: selfish, rude, and condescending to anyone he perceives as in his way. Theoretically, his attitude should make it easy for the viewer to root for Mike and Jimmy to kidnap him (which, again, would be weird because their Celtic love is excessive), but then the movie throws another confusing curveball by making Lewis significantly smarter than his kidnappers. When Lewis almost successfully psyches Jimmy into fighting with Mike, it's surreal to watch because the movie doesn't have a single person or motivation on screen worth rooting for. In theory, the camaraderie that sports fans have with those on their same side and the museum of sports history that Jimmy lives in seem like prime opportunities for the trio to form an unusual bond, but that doesn't happen either: instead, the movie devolves into a series of increasingly contrived and decidedly non-suspenseful situations in which Lewis almost escapes.
The film eventually twists itself around into a strange final half-hour where Mike, Jimmy, Lewis, and several other supporting characters all have something at stake as the championship game unfolds. The overlong sequence is a microcosm of the movie's problems as a whole: a tangled web of sympathies (should we be happy that Mike's wife starts to like basketball?), random plot threads that go nowhere (an ultimatum by a third friend played by Paul Guilfoyle about an expensive shirt buy, a halftime hoop contest that seems to get totally forgotten the moment it ends), and plenty of unfunny jokes (unsurprisingly, prison rape ends up being a runner). Even the film's epilogue constitutes yet another twist of sympathy in pursuit of a cheap joke that feels unworthy of Celtic Pride even in its current awful form. Director Tom DeCerchio never made another movie after Celtic Pride. Watching this trainwreck, it's no surprise he was benched.
The Video and Audio
An original theatrical trailer is also included.