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Varsity Blues

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Varsity Blues

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight
Director: Brian Robbins
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: January 1999
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sports

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Teenybopper idol James Van Der Beek of TV's "Dawson's Creek" gets a big screen break in this football flick. Its strength is that examines the pressures placed on high school athletes by their parents and coaches. Its weakness is that it reduces a serious topic into all the shamelessly predictable cliches of teenage comedy that are liberally dished out by writer W. Peter Iliff. "Football is a way of life," Van Der Beek explains as a second-string quarterback in rural Texas, where devotion to high-school football attains a religious fervor. "You never question the sanctity of the coaches," he adds. Jon Voight plays Bud Kilmer who has coached his West Canaan, Texas, AAA team to two state championships and 22 district championships in his 35-year tenure. There's a big bronze statue of Coach Kilmer right outside of the stadium which is named for him. The story revolves around Van Der Beek and his girl friend (Amy Smart) who rebel against the football mania gripping everyone around them. They're aware of the Coach's tenacity to force ill or injured players to continue in the game and appalled by his racist tendency to ignore black players when it comes to scoring touchdowns. Understandably, the Coach doesn't like him much but, when the star of the team wrecks his knee with five games to go in a winning season, Van Der Beek's pushed up front and center. His chances of an academic scholarship to Brown rest on his performance. The cheerleader subplot is stupefying, as is having a sex education instructor make students chant the common names for sex organs in unison. Not too surprising for her character, though, since she turns out to be a stripper in her off-hours. Unevenly directed by Brian Robbins, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Varsity Blues" is fumbling 5. It's V for vulgar.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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