Film Scouts Reviews

"Varsity Blues"

by Thom Bennett

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Small town America can certainly be a scary place. Just ask David Lynch... Yet I don't know if there has ever been a more terrifying screen portrayal of Americana than that of "Varsity Blues".

Now entering West Canaan, Texas. Twin Peaks has nothing on this place. A seemingly normal town with a zombie-like reverence for high school football and the West Canaan Coyotes' evil coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight). Perhaps reverence is not the right word... try obsession, SICKNESS. The thing that makes it so frightening is that these towns do indeed exist.

Then there is Jonathan Moxon (James Vane der Beek), second string quarterback and arch nemesis to Coach Kilmer. He does not share his hometown's football fetish, which is all well and good until the starting quarterback goes down and Moxon ("The Mox", to his friends) is thrust into the spotlight.

With the weight of the town and his family and his friends now on his shoulders, Mox must now win the championship, fend off the sexual advances of the sexy head cheerleader (Ali Larter) and expose the maniacal Coach Kilmer in the process. Quite a tall order for a back-up quarterback...

Fret not, Mox has a good head on his shoulders. In fact, he and his girlfriend (Amy Smart) seem to be the only two people in the entire town who aren't complete idiots - kinda strange. However, aside from the cliche characters and rather predictable story (do you think they win? Go on, guess.) "Varsity Blues" is actually a pretty fun movie.

Van der Beek's big screen debut is somewhere between a lesser John Hughes' film and a really good Superbowl beer commercial. It hardly does wonders for the recent resurgence of the teen movie (see Kevin Williamson), but it doesn't derail the train either. So, if you're looking for something to do while eating your popcorn, just sit back, don't think too hard and enjoy.

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