Dir. Danny Leiner
Starring: Seann William Scott, Randy Quaid, Brando Eastman, Emilee Wallace
In 2000 Danny Leiner directed Seann William Scott in low-concept comedy Dude, Where’s My Car? Contrary to all expectations it did really well. It was actually very funny. Whoooah!
Eight years later and he is again directing Seann William Scott. And completely fails to get the same magic. Duuuude!
The title itself reflects the schizophrenia at the heart of the movie. Balls Out – it suggests ribald sports fun. An adult version of Dodgeball maybe. The Gary Houseman Story suggests a biopic of a sportsman. Should you know who Gary Houseman is?
Well no. Gary (Scott) is a fictitious former tennis player; the nearest he got to the big time was playing a semi-pro tour of
(until allegations of cheating and an unfortunate incident with a donkey in a
titty bar got him thrown off). He busks his way as far as Mexico and then decides to stop. He takes
a job as a school janitor and decides to put his tennis playing days behind
him. We know all this because he spends the first five minutes of the film
telling us that he will never again pick up a tennis racket. By minute six he
has picked up a tennis racket and is duelling a wall. He then spends the next
minute explaining that he is now through with tennis, and nothing can ever
induce him to return to the sport. By minute eight he has signed on as
assistant tennis coach at the school where he works. Nebraska
Thereafter it is the usual sporting schmaltz of a new coach using unconventional techniques to motivate his underperforming team to championship glory. It’s like Best Shot but with more beef jerky and vomiting. There are some moments of what I think tries to be drama along the way.
clearly looks to Coach Lew Tuttle (Randy
Quaid, last seen in Hard Rain) as a
replacement father, his own having been dismissive. The same narrative applies
to star player Mike (Brando Eastman), whose own father is less than impressed
with his son’s choice of playing tennis. But when Lew dies Gary resolves to lead his team to victory in
his name. He constantly exhorts them to greater efforts in the name of “Coach T”, takes over his three Doberman
pinschers, has bizarre hallucinations in which Tuttle appears to him as an owl
or an Indian squaw, and he kisses the coach’s school-age daughter Jenny (Emilee
Wallace). Okay – she kisses him, and then he kisses her back and stops it
(mainly because he is more interested in getting his “naughty fingers” on Argentinian Spanish teacher Miss Sanchez
(Leonor Varela). He also has a momentary crisis of morality when he considers
shaving the racquet strings of the opposing team’s star player. Gary
The thing is, for a comedy it is not very funny. I think I laughed three times during the whole 90 minutes. Twice when eight-year-old Amy (Ryan Simpkins) used incredibly bad language, and once when Coach Pimble (A. D. Miles) gets knocked over by dogs. That’s the level of humour we are dealing with here. But three laughs in 90 minutes is a very poor hit rate. Other elements are meant to be funny, but just come out disgusting. American Pie was a gross-out comedy, because for all the gross moments (jizz-filled beer, explosive diarrhoea, pie-shagging) there actually was some comedy; Balls Out manages the gross but fails on the comedy. For example, the motivational tools
employs range from
the ridiculous (vomiting on the team’s history book) to the ridiculous (running
out onto the pitch bare-assed), and from the ridiculous (crapping on the
opposing team’s court) to the ridiculous (hiring a whore for Mike so that he
will be “a Man” when it comes to the
big game). Your enjoyment will depend entirely upon how hilarious you find
Seann William Scott’s backside. Gary
|What's the polite thing to do in these circumstances?|
Focus on his ass or on his balls?
There is no particular rhyme or reason as to why the film is set in
other than the fact that writers Andy Stock and Rick Stempson both attended .
Nebraskan (or “husker”) schools and
their parents care about American football to the exception of all else. Tennis
is a very poor relation; at one point the parents suggest disbanding the tennis
squad and reallocating its resources to the American football team. Mind you,
I’m sure this would be the same in most places. Tennis is not really that
enthralling. Lincoln East High School
There is a degree of heterogeneity in
at least. The squad includes a kid of Chinese descent, there is an Argentinian
teacher at the school, and they can attract a Filipino ping-pong champ as an
exchange student. Lincoln
Can we go there?
It is starting to look as though a genuine film shoot in
is a rare occurrence indeed. Okay, so About
Schmidt was shot up there, but Balls Out – like Boys Don’t Cry – was filmed in Nebraska . Filming took place around Austin,
Taylor and the delightfully named Dripping Springs. The school portrayed is meant to be located in Lincoln – possibly even Lincoln East High School, which the two writers
Overall Rating: 1/5