Movie Magazine International

Varsity Blues

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Erik Petersen

"Varsity Blues" is the latest film to be released by MTV in association with Paramount. The film stars James Van Der Beek of the popular TV show "Dawsonís Creek" in the lead role of Mox, the brainy high school quarterback. This is familiar territory for Van Der Beek who gets to struggle with the same coming of age issues that plague his TV character, like should he remain loyal to his girlfriend and who should he please. But why, why is he so troubled? For an eighteen-year-old kid that gets make out with cute girls, drink beer and hang out in strip clubs he sure complains a lot.

Jon Voight is Bud Kilmer, his football coach and arch nemesis. He spends a lot of time squinting and looking mean when he isnít issuing threats and cruel taunts. Although heís sufficiently detestable here as the villain we never really understand his characterís motivation. As they say in the pros, I think Voight was playing for his paycheck.

Make no mistake; MTV is smart; they know what their core teenage audience wants. This movie was prepared from a now familiar recipe in Hollywood. Start with teen angst; mix in a dash of sexuality and garnish with a hot soundtrack. The recent horror film "The Faculty" was cooked up using similar ingredients.

"Varsity Blues" bills itself as a coming-of-age football comedy and it feels like a poor effort to combine separate genres. The John Hughes movies of the eighties or even TV's "Dawson's Creek" offers more fully fleshed out, complex teenagers. And for football comedy and action "The Waterboy" was better.

Even though it features a hot new actor and the latest MTV promoted bands the story is familiar, "The Program", "All the Right Moves" and even "North Dallas Forty" all had very similar plot lines. These characters and their issues are weak, and the jokes are tired.

As I left the theater I overheard two teenage girls in braces discussing the merits of the film. They both agreed, James Van Der Beek is hot. In the end that may be enough to guarantee dollars at the box office but itís certainly no guarantee of a good film.

© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 1/20/99

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