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It used to be one of the more meaningful motion picture metaphors: sports as a microcosm of life. All throughout the early days of cinema, during the glory days of classic studio system films, athletes and the games they played provided the backdrop for discussions of courage, leadership, discipline, and self-discovery. But in the post-modern era, all that has changed. Championing the underdog, rooting for the good guys, using competition as a moralizing mannerism to determine the superior from the sad has become the order of the day. Without some adversity to overcome, a last act challenge to rise up to, and a god-like leader who provides tough love and selfless motivation within a context of team and trying, the current sports film is lost. These are the clichés mined for supposed comic relief by the 2007 spoof The Comebacks. Sadly, these proposed prospectors of mirth come up very empty handed indeed.
All his life, Lambeau Fields has been a loser. From his stint as a baseball manager to his latest job as a college football coach, all he can create is defeat. But things may be different this time around. For the first time in his life, he has a ragtag bunch of bums that are his non-victorious equal. Even better, there is some actual talent among the whiners, criers, and wimps. But it will take hard work and a sense of team to turn these athletic jokes from zeroes to heroes - and Fields may not have the huevos to do it. Unfortunately, time is not on his side. The big game is coming up, and a long time friend turned rival is on the other sideline, calling the shots. It's this coach's last chance at redemption, his final opportunity to leave his losing ways behind and lead his team to triumph.
They say that all comedy is a matter of wit and timing. As long as you have an inspired source of humor, and the crackerjack acumen to realize it, you should have a nonstop laughfest. If you want reverse proof of this satiric theorem, look no further than the atrociously unfunny spoof, The Comebacks. This is the kind of regressive retardation that makes the Scary Movie franchise feel like early Woody Allen, the sort of mindless, pointless entertainment endeavor that turns the Epic/Date Movie manure into the sweetest smelling shite on the screen. This lax, lumbering film literally feels like a spoof with all the jokes and good cheer leached out of it. In its place are gags that go nowhere, performances that piss you off, and a narrative that purports to be one thing (a story about losers finally winning) and then does everything in its power to undermine such a sentiment. In fact, everything about this flop of a film is so reprehensible and hateful that we want to find the perpetrators and beat them with their own body parts. Even better, one should memorize their names. That way, the next time a mindless studio suit gives them the greenlight to soil cinema this way, you can check the Cineplex marquee to see if there are any animal torture of snuff films playing.
The misguided men behind this mess are director Tom Brady, and writers Ed Yeager and Joey Gutierrez. One look at their combined credits (Brady helmed the equally awful The Hot Chick, while our so-called scribes gave sloppy sitcoms Dharma and Greg and Still Standing their limited laughs) and it's easy to see why this film stinks. What's more perturbing, however, is the list of "story" acknowledgments. Two of the names - John Aboud and Michael Colton - are founding members of the Modern Humorist, a comedy collective that's actually funny. A little research finds that the duo admitting (on their website) that they indeed created the project. It was later bought and, by their own admission, rewritten approximately 87 times. As anyone familiar with film knows - satire by committee is usually as successful as a Uwe Boll videogame adaptation, but some executives are still sold on the concept. So it's clear that when the mass vivisection starts, a couple of the geniuses at Fox Atomic can take the fall for Aboud and Colton. Besides, these guys are Harvard grads. They've been Ivy League educated in the ways of wit, right?
But the squeezed from the ass cheeks script is only part of the problem. The acting is equally anus-derived. David Koechner's mush mouthed Lambeau Fields is about as clever as a cold sore, and twice as painful. His endless mugging, matched with a dialogue delivery system set on 'screech' makes him instantly the most unlikable character in the entire film - that is, until other members of the cast open their yaps. One Lucas inspired squirt offers nothing but same sex based double entendres, while another finds a way to give the mentally slow a cinematic stick in the eye. There's a sexy Indian babe whose Bend it Like Beckham conceit is never explored, and even Andy Dick shows up as a referee in the last act showdown between the good guys and bad guys in the...wait for it...Toilet Bowl! Har-dee-har-har-har! With it's random shots at famous sports figures (Serena Williams should sue, ASAP) and mirthless mining of the entire inspiration athletics genre, The Comebacks is a truly desperate motion picture. It's as joyless as a Goth kid at a jam band concert, as soulless as any member of Oxygen's Bad Girls Club.
Presented by Fox Atomic in every critic's favorite "Screening Only" review copy format (complete with random logo placement), it's hard to comment on the image here. The transfer offered is less than impressive, but then again, it's not final product. One hopes the eventual 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic image surpasses the slightly compressed version experienced for this review.
Though information indicates that this screener provides all the necessary sonic situations of the final Fox Atomic packaging, this critic will again reserve judgment. The Dolby Digital 5.1 offered was good, but not great. There was limited use of the back channels, some minor distortion, and occasional problems with hearing the dialogue.
Typical of the reverse value element of such a stink bomb, this incredibly crappy film gets more DVD bonus features than it legitimately deserves. We are treated to a full length audio commentary from director Brady (a self-congratulatory snooze fest), seven individual featurettes (ranging from various Andy Dick ref riffs to a music video for something called the "Jizminder"), and a digital trading card for the MySpace contest winner. Along with some trailers, that's it. Of course, the presentation is also subtitled "Unrated", which means there is some additional material included here. But since this film was not screened for critics back when it was released to theaters, the differences are unascertainable at this time. Besides, who really cares? If the more explicit version is this hideously stupid, the original content must really bite.
Clearly crying out for something much, much worse, all DVD Talk can offer this hemorrhoid of a spoof is the site mandated Skip It. Yet such a negative sentiment can't begin to describe the grave-like boredom generated by this junk. All involved should be ashamed, not just for delivering yet another unfunny slice of subpar mockery. No, the crime committed here is far more heinous. By taking the worst elements of the sports film genre and turning it into so much talent-free trash, they've actually made mediocre movies like Radio, Remember the Titans, and Lucas look like masterpieces - and that's the last things these already overreaching films needed. Instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel, where they belong, they can now consider themselves classics. That's patently unfair, and just one of the artform abominations The Comebacks creates.
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