I lay the blame for The Comebacks on anyone who enjoyed Date Movie and Epic Movie. You people encouraged the Fox studio to keep on churning out desperate parody films, and now we're faced with what just may be the laziest and most desperate one of them all. The Comebacks barely qualifies as a parody. Heck, it barely qualifies as a movie. This is a comedy in theory, but not in execution. No one, not even the people involved with this mess, could have possibly fooled themselves into thinking they were making a funny movie. Director Tom Brady (The Hot Chick) has made something truly wretched here.
The plot, if you can even call it that, centers on a man named Lambeau Fields (David Koechner). Right when I heard his name within the first couple seconds of the film, I knew I was in for a long movie. Funny names are seldom funny, and become even less funny the more you hear them. Lambeau is one of the worst coaches in the world, but he's been given another chance by his best friend, Freddie Wiseman (Carl Weathers), to coach a ragtag high school football team called The Comebacks. Lambeau must not only lead the team to victory, but also teach them the ways of inspirational sports movie clichés. He expects his kids to have poor grades and problems with alcohol, and ridicules them when they don't. When it looks like the team has a chance to play at the big championship Toilet Bowl game (Did 10-year-olds write this script?), Lambeau is shocked to discover that Freddie is the coach of the big rival team that his team will be playing against. Turns out Freddie only encouraged Lambeau to take the coaching job, because he wanted The Comebacks to lose.
The Comebacks is a movie so forced and pathetic, I almost had a hard time believing what I was watching. Spoof movies have recently turned into a game of "spot the movie reference", and this continues the tradition. It tries to squeeze in as many references to other sports movies as it can, but it either does absolutely nothing with them, expecting us to just point at the screen and laugh out of familiarity, or it attempts to be funny and falls flat on its face. Some of the films referenced include Field of Dreams, Bend it Like Beckham, Rocky Balboa, Friday Night Lights, Stick It, Radio, Miracle, Remember the Titans, Gridiron Gang, Invincible, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. But wait, wasn't Dodgeball already a parody of inspirational sports movies? So, in other words, we're watching a parody of a parody of inspirational sports movies. If that makes any sense to you, you're just the audience this movie is looking for. Some of these films are referenced in the plot, and some (like the Rocky one) are just thrown in for no reason, because the filmmakers wanted to try to reference as many films as possible. There are some that the movie even feels the need to explain to us in its dialogue, just in case we've missed the obvious reference. You know a movie is in trouble when it has to spell out its own jokes to us.
The worst thing is that the screenplay by TV veterans and first time screen writers, Ed Yeager and Joey Gutierrez, doesn't even know the first and most important rule of parody - You have to play it straight. The actors have to pretend they're not in on the joke. The reason why the classic Zucker Brothers movies like Airplane, Top Secret, and The Naked Gun are remembered so fondly is because they cast serious actors like Leslie Nielsen (yes, he was a serious actor before he turned to comedy) and Robert Stack, and then threw them into ridiculous situations. What made it funny is that they acted like they weren't in a comedy, and kept a stone face to the weirdness around them. Those films wouldn't have worked if they played their roles broadly. The Comebacks proves this, as all the actors are forced to play their roles so goofy, it's like they're screaming at us to laugh. David Koechner keeps on flailing his arms, bulging his eyes, and screaming at the top of his lungs to the point he looks like someone who knows he's trapped in a dead-end comedy, and just tries too hard to pretend he's having a good time. The movie also doesn't understand the art of celebrity cameos (also an important factor when it comes to parody films). What kind of cameos do we get in The Comebacks? Andy Dick and Dennis Rodman.
By the time the movie throws in an out of nowhere and extremely pointless cast musical number to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I was just about ready to walk out the theater door. I was the only person at my screening, and the thought of this movie going on its pathetic way to a completely empty house kind of appealed to me. I did sit through the rest of The Comebacks, and I was not rewarded for my efforts. The sad thing is, Fox is not yet done killing the spoof genre. They have a parody of 300 coming out next year called Meet the Spartans. I'd say it can't be much worse than this, but I've seen the trailer, and I wouldn't want to get your hopes up.