REVIEW: Home Team

 I was absolutely shocked.  Shiver me timbers, says I.  Home Team, starring Kevin James and a Happy Madison production, was alright.  There was a lot of fear growling away in the depths of my stomach when I sat down to watch it, and those fears were all for not.  At least some of them.  The film that I watched turned out to be remarkably better than imagined.  This was absolutely delightful.

And then I realized that it wasn't so much that this was a good sports comedy film, but rather much better than other Happy Madison productions.  I wasn't comparing it to moves as a whole, just to what I had anticipated.  Home Team is indeed much better than films like Jack and Jill, The Ridiculous 6, and Father of the Year.  Put up against those, Home Team is a near Oscar winner.

However, any glowing thoughts and opinions I had were unjust.  My entire baseline for expectations was faulty.  I was comparing it against a specific form of cinematic faeces, one that comes from the most growling of lower intestines.

Kevin James plays Sean Payton, a fictionalized version of actual New Orleans Saints head coach who got a one year suspension from the NFL and ended up spending that time coaching his son's football team.  James' performance is alright, and he seems to be a decent fit for the character.  That's about where any half hearted praise of acting ends.

A lot of the usual Adam Sandler regulars fill the movie's roster, with at least three speaking roles going to Sandler's relatives.  Of course, we have Rob Schneider as well, who plays a new age style hippy.  Thankfully he isn't playing a different ethnicity, which happens often in Happy Madison films.  I hate trashing child actors, but when I saw Maxwell Simpkins (The Sleepover) appearing as a player on the team, my fragile stomach twisted.  As luck would have it, he barely said anything.

The script is penned by Keith Blum (his first script) and Chris Titone, a regular acting appearance in Sandler films.  Two things stand out about Titone.  First is that his IMDb profile picture is him giving the middle finger.  Second, all of his acting roles are incredibly small, from 'musty swamp bartender' to 'frat boy,' he is just someone who shows up.  And probably gives the finger.  

The script for Home Team is insanely basic, a cut and paste job from other films.  I think that all we need to know about Titone is that he thinks giving the finger is funny, and his only chance of getting work is in Happy Madison films.

The 'comedy' element in here may be something that I would have laughed at in the early years of Adam Sandler films, but now is continually recycled jokes.  Though I have referenced Sandler a lot, he is merely a producer on this film.  Like always with a Sandler starring or produced film, it ultimately feels like a create work project for his friends and family members.  These films all start blurring together, not being humorous, and more just turning into a bell curve of 'at least it wasn't as bad as... (insert film here).'

One aspect of the movie that felt competent was the filming of the football sequences.  I cannot say that they were amazing and emotionally stirring, but they weren't bad.  Such is the problem here.  Anything that 'isn't bad' seems to be considered a big win from my perspective.  And of course these games with twelve year olds have announcers to make sure the audience knows what's going on.

If you have enjoyed Happy Madison movies, you will probably enjoy Home Team.  I harbour no ill will or angry intention against fans of these films.  They just really aren't for me.  I don't enjoy them, and it becomes a case of rating them based on how much I felt like they insulted my intelligence.  Home Team, while derivative and unfunny, didn't leave me feeling like I was robbed of my dignity.  As far as a Happy Madison film goes, that is a massive victory.

Rating - 2 out of 4 stars