I’ve said this plenty of times before: one of my biggest regrets was never playing football growing up. Sure I enjoyed Little League Baseball and basketball in High School had its moments but there is something special about football. Unfortunately I had one overprotective parent who didn’t let me do Pop Warner and then went to a HS where my graduating class was 48 (that’s right, 48).
So movies about High School Football tend to draw my interest because I long to be part of those experiences. And after watching “Friday Night Lights” a few weeks ago, the love as well as intensity for that sport in Texas has been illustrated very clearly to me. But when it comes to “Varsity Blues,” I felt like I’m watching another teen movie.
By no means is this a bad film but it lacks the spark that makes others special. The movie follows the common plot where a talented team loses its best player and the protagonist is thrust into a position he is not ready for. And in this case, Jonathan “Mox” Moxon is actually too smart since he looks to go to an Ivy League school for college. In fact the reason he plays is confusing because he shows no interest despite his father pushing him to be great.
Luckily Mox has plenty of friends which helps when you deal with the worst coach ever, Bud Kilmer. I mean I understand that coaches really care about winning but Kilmer goes too far. Played by Jon Voight, this “legendary” coach shoots his players up with plenty of drugs to keep them playing even though they risk serious injury. Couple that with not giving his new QB any credit and he is basically the last guy you would want coaching your son.
Which is what makes his character confusing because the former players respect him. He has a statue and plenty of accolades so clearly many like him yet he cannot be more hated by this group of players. Also don’t tell me that professionals deal with similar coaches because that’s totally different. These are teenagers being treated terribly by someone they’re supposed to look up to as well as someone their parents should trust. I may have gotten in arguments with coaches but all of them were looking out for my teammates and me.
When it’s all said and done, “Varsity Blues” is a fine movie to watch every now and then because it does have young actors before they were famous like James Van Der Beek, Scott Caan as well as Paul Walker. There are plenty of stereotypical laughs (like Billy Bob), a scandalous whipped cream scene and enough character drama to make the film entertaining but it still feels like a common teen movie. Maybe it’s because I’m coming up on my 10-year reunion but movies about high schoolers just don’t have much of an affect on me…even if it includes football.
And look, we’ve all heard stories of bad coaches who treated their players badly (see Mike Rice, Jr. with Rutgers) but rest assured that no one could be as bad as Bud Kilmer.