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Varsity Blues movie review

Varsity Blues

There is a lot of movies coming out at the moment with teenage protagonists. Whether this is an attempt to attract the junior market, or film makers/producers think teenage life and angst is inherently interesting, or its just an excuse to put a lot of bimbettes on film -- we can only speculate.

Since part of the purpose of story-telling (and story-listening) is helping us to see the world and thus find our own answers, or to enable us to experience catharsis -- stories of teenage experience are ho-hum, been-there-done-that for the majority of the population. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe the cult of youth and buff and sports notoriety has our values so skewed that there are those who believe that your best years are over around about the end of the so-called male-sexual-peak (late teens).

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Varsity Blues is heavily involved in this cult of the teenage peak. It is set in a town so obsessed by a teenage football team that they literally paint the town blue in support of them. The adults live in the shadow of their teenage selves -- rotting physically and atrophying mentally and psychologically now that they have out-lived their childhood goals.

The god of their town is coach Kilmer (Voight), their messiah is the starting quarterback. You can tell who that is by the billboard on the front lawn of his family's home. Kilmer runs the 'pep rally' like a religious tent show, ruled by the ministry of Kilmer, and the visions of Lance (Paul Walker), the blond and unprofound footballer.

His buddy Max (James Van Der Beek) and sister Collette (Tiffany C. Love) are literally counting the games until the end of football season. But Kilmer's bulldozing ego and drug dispensing takes its toll, Lance is out of the game, and suddenly Max is the new great white hope in town.

While the final football game is a nice balance of football activity and real-life activity, a lot of this film is spent watching heavily protected young men running around thumping into one another. There is an assumption that gridiron is inherently interesting. I have to confess some confusion here, I mean, can these cyborgs can't really be called athletes if it can be played by the grossly overweight. The ancients knew what a hard game really was -- lightly oiled athletes, their muscles rippling like so many Rodin bronzes, with the losers sacrificed to the gods-de-jour. Now that's a tough game.

So, while the last 20-30 minutes is well worth watching, the rest of the film is strictly booze and footballs. Watch it if that appeals.

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Due for Australian release
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Just the facts:

Title: Varsity Blues (1999)
Written by: W. Peter Iliff
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Produced by: Tova Laiter, Mike tollin, Brian Robbins
Edited by: Ned Bastille
Director of Photography: Charles Cohen
running time:
rating: M

The Players: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Ron Lester, Scott Caan
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 29-Mar-1999 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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