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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.48%
Worth A Look37.93%
Just Average: 20.69%
Pretty Crappy: 6.9%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
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by Jay Seaver

"Hey, it doesn't land with a splat."
3 stars

The film festival circuit is kind of like awards season: Both generally tends to recognize and spotlight good films, but from a skewed sample. One area where both tend to fall down is comedies; awards shows either separate them from the "important" movies or maybe recognize supporting players, and lately it seems that the only way a comedy can crack a festival line-up is by being a "mockumentary". So movies like "Blackballed" play festivals and maybe even win awards despite not really superlatively funny.

Oh, Blackballed has its moments, and more than a few come about as a result of using the documentary format. It also has a lot of moments where the format is an obvious crutch, leaning hard on "hey, isn't this conversation awkward and weird and thus real?" The format also calls attention to the scale of the movie: Do people make "real" documentaries about local legends? Well, of course, but there's usually some acknowledgment that this is a guy that you probably wouldn't have heard of if you haven't been within fifty miles of the setting in that case. Blackballed seems to avoid putting that bit in, so we're never really sure of the level of fame/infamy Bobby Dukes (Rob Corddry) achieved before his fall from grace. Was he a guy with national renown among paintballers now trying to work his way back to that, or is he trying to regain the respect of this small town because he's nothing outside it? The film kind of plays coy, almost as if it wants to imply the first case even though the second is all they can really afford to present.

Strip away the indie-ness, and it's your basic team-of-losers movie. Dukes is a legendary player, kicked out of the game for ten years after he was caught wiping during a championship paintball match. After wandering the earth during that time, he's back in town, but can't interest any of his former teammates in playing with him - they've either moved on with their lives or declared him persona non grata. He winds up recruiting a new team: Lenny Pear (Paul Scheer), a geeky referee; Bobby's decidedly un-sporty sister Erika (Danna Feinglass); belligerent ex-Marine Eddie Reynolds (Rob Riggle); and David "Showtime" Showalter (Curtis Gwinn), who has never played but his video game skills show promising hand-eye co-ordination. They'll be joined by laid-back Canadian Crosby Peters (Seth Morris) after beating his team in the qualifying rounds. Dukes will have to whip them into shape to take on his old team, which is led by snotty Sam Brown (Rob Huebel), who has taken up with Bobby's old girlfriend.

So it's pretty standard sports movie stuff. Director Brant Sersen and his co-writer Brian Steinberg generally opt against broad, obvious satire. Sure, we get Rob Huebel being an arrogant, aloof athlete, which is kind of absurd because he's a paintballer playing in this sparsely-attended open tournament. That's good for a few chuckles, which is the film's M.O. - a fairly steady stream of little laughs punctuated by larger ones, but also stretches that really aren't that amusing. It is, to borrow a sporting term, kind of streaky, with both the jokes that work and the ones that don't coming one after another. It's kind of unfortunate that the last act is one where the jokes tend to go flat; from the point where the team arrives for the tournament to the finish, it sort of goes into big-game clichés without really having a clever twist to apply. There's some funny in-game moments, but the stuff around it is pretty flat.

It's fun, a notch or two above average. Even when it's going through the motions, it does so with skill and without wasting a whole lot of time. Its eighty-five minutes are full of little bits that work, making for a pretty enjoyable, low-key comedy.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9043&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/12/06 09:26:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston. For more in the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

10/19/06 William Goss Improvised doesn't always equal funny. A few laughs, but tiresome after ninety minutes. 2 stars
10/09/06 faraz khan i liked yhe movie i want buy the dvd 4 stars
8/01/06 Lara Lechler This film was so funny! I saw it at a festival and the audience was loving it! ME TOO! 4 stars
5/17/06 Gavin Bamber For those with a weird sense of humor. 4 stars
7/25/05 Paul Ambrose A cult comedy that will become a must-have in every dorm and frat house. 5 stars
7/25/05 Beth hilarious.. can't wait to see it again. i wish they'd pick a distributor already. 5 stars
6/09/05 matt i only saw it advertised in APG but i really want to see it so get it to the public 5 stars
4/16/05 craig varney laugh fest 4 stars
11/23/04 marc manali hillarious 5 stars
11/16/04 J. Parks Great film... hope it reaches the public. 4 stars
6/07/04 Rory Szwed Unbelievably funny. Improv at it's best. Corddry is complemented by the improv cast of UCB 5 stars
6/06/04 CS Great 5 stars
6/05/04 Christine I just saw this movie today at the Lake Placid Film Festival. I acutally cried laughing! 5 stars
5/06/04 Matt Russell 5 stars
4/12/04 Ginger Funniest movie I've see this year. 5 stars
4/07/04 Michael Sophmoric humour that never takes advantage of the premise. Been there done that. 2 stars
3/26/04 KKP GREAT!! 5 stars
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  DVD: 25-Jul-2006



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