Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jake Lacy, Nikki Reed, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney, Gabriel Luna, Will Elliott, Kirk C. Johnson, Sam Eidson, Nicholas Rutherford, Jay Pharoah, D.C. Pierson, Michael Hogan, Clint Howard
Written by: Bradley Jackson
Directed by: Andrew Disney
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual material, language and some drug use
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/19/2015

Balls Out (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Freak Flags

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

These days, spoof movies are cheap and plentiful, and are usually lowest common denominator stuff, but with a handful of "Saturday Night Live" vets on board, Balls Out -- formerly known as Intramural -- fares slightly better. The filmmakers are aware of every single sports movie cliché and have packed them together and cheerfully labeled them. Yet rather than simply copying better-known scenes from better-known movies and throwing in gross-out gags, Balls Out actually tries for its own unique sight gags and verbal wit. The humor is still very broad and lowbrow, but can be quickly forgiven.

Five years ago, Caleb (Jake Lacy) happily played college intramural flag football, until a tricky play left his friend Grant (Nick Kocher) paralyzed. Now, Caleb doesn't play anymore. Instead he prepares for the LSATs and is dating Vicky (Kate McKinnon) who pushes him to marry her and join her father's firm. Not sure this is what he wants to do, he decides to reunite his team of lovable, shaggy-dog types. Things get serious when an old rival, Dick (Beck Bennett) begins taunting him, and Caleb finds himself falling for Dick's sister Meredith (Nikki Reed). When the team needs him most, Grant even comes back, now fulfilling the role of inspirational coach. Will Caleb and his Panthers win the championship?

But the movie has severe limitations. Following the sports movie conventions, it's unable to conjure up any truly carefree characters, but at the same time, its sympathetic characters are too silly to really care about. Because of this distancing, the movie's jokes are likely to fade from memory rather quickly. But as a lightweight movie, it does deliver a few decent chuckles.

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