The Comebacks

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Like too many of its predecessors in the parody-film genre, including the recent "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie," this would-be satire directed by Tom Brady features a procession of familiar and not-so-familiar scenes from its inspirations modified with the lamest of gags. In this case, the PG-13 rating even dampens down the normally enjoyable raunch factor to a depressingly low level.

Veteran supporting player David Koechner gets his Will Ferrell-style moment in the spotlight with his starring turn as Coach Lambeau Fields -- if the joke has to be explained, this might not be the film for you -- who is assigned the task of whipping a small town Texas college football team into shape in time for the big game.

This provides the framework for a barrage of bits lampooning seemingly dozens of sports movies from recent years, including "Miracle," "Rudy," "Friday Night Lights," "Invincible," "Remember the Titans," "Rocky" and even such relatively little seen titles as "Stick It." At one point, a musical number featuring a Journey song also is thrown in for no particularly good reason.

Most of the gags fail miserably, achieving little more than to provide momentary reminders of their inspirations. And the tangential jokes like the coach's sexually frustrated wife (Melora Hardin) passing off her young lover as an exchange student from the country of "Makingsweetlovetoyourwifeistan," are similarly lame.

While many of the film's targets like Cuba Gooding Jr.'s annoying turn as the mentally challenged "Radio" (here dubbed "iPod": these are the jokes, folks) are well-deserving of ridicule, the ineffective spoofing on display actually makes them seem better in retrospect.

Koechner tries hard, but ultimately scores few laughs except for when, like Ferrell, he bares his comically less than toned, fleshy body. Some of the supporting players manage to provide fun moments, such as Matthew Lawrence as a teen quarterback with sexuality issues and Carl Weathers as a rival coach.

THE COMEBACKS
Fox Atomic
Tapestry Films
Credits:
Director: Tom Brady
Screenwriters: Ed Yeager, Joey Gutierrez
Based on a story by: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Producers: Peter Abrams, Andrew Panay, Robert L. Levy
Executive producer: Adam F. Goldberg
Director of photography: Anthony B. Richmond
Production designer: Marc Fisichella
Music: Christopher Lennertz
Co-producers: Laura Greenlee, Kevin Sabbe, Michael Schreiber
Costume designer: Salvador Perez
Editor: Alan Edward Bell
Cast:
Coach Lambeau Fields: David Koechner
Freddie Wiseman: Carl Weathers
Barb Fields: Melora Hardin
Lance Truman: Matthew Lawrence
Michelle Fields: Brooke Nevin
Mr. Truman: Nick Searcy
Buddy Boy: George Back
Jizminder: Noureen DeWulf
Jorge: Jesse Garcia
Trotter: Jackie Long
Running time -- 88 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
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