About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
Allan A. Goldstein
Just another reason to hate football
The last time I took a dip into the murky depth of the Family Films boxset it was one of the most diabolical movie watching experiences of my life. A cheaply made, animated musical ripoff of James Cameron’s Titanic, featuring a rapping dog.
I managed to watch ‘Titanic – The Legend Goes On’ in a single sitting. The same cannot be said for Home Team.
You could argue that I may not be the target audience for this film, however even if I was six years old and had just fallen out of a very tall tree on to my head I still could not imagine getting more than half an hour into this but I turned it off and put The Goonies on again.
Steve Guttenberg plays Mr. Butler (if they ever said his first name then I missed it), an ex ‘party boy’ (their words) who’s been in some trouble and now must do community service as a handyman for a small orphanage. Also he’s the most irritating man alive. The orphanage is occupied by a bunch of plucky young scamps with nicknames like Pineapple, a comedy fat cook called (wait for it) Cookie, and a fairly normal, if slightly saccharine, lady called Karen, who we’re told is from Paris even though she’s clearly French-Canadian.
Mr. Butler isn’t happy about this arrangement but tries to ingratiate himself with the household in the only way he knows how. By steamrollering into every situation with a barrage of supposedly funny monologues, impressions and comedy skits. No one takes kindly to this, least of all me. I’ve never had much of a problem with Guttenberg in the past but here he delivers every line with the all confidence of a mid-1980’s Eddie Murphy and all the wit of a mid-2010’s Adam Sandler. Every gag is like nails down a chalkboard, but not just to me, all the kids and the Canadian lady think he’s a tool as well. We’re all cringing together and wondering what possible motivation the director could have for making our main protagonist so utterly, utterly irritating. At one point in the film he kisses a live cockroach, this is easily one of least nauseating parts of his performance. And this from a man who appeared in his breakthrough role dressed like this –
To be honest it’s not all Stevie Boy’s fault. The script he has to work with is so moronic that even Robin Williams, at the height of his powers, would struggle to wring a chuckle out of it. In the first half hour the comedic highlights include the fact that Pineapple farts a lot and that Cookie the cook, can’t actually cook (oh my sides!).
Anyway, the kids, for some reason, don’t warm to Mr. Butler so pull some pranks on him which generally end up catching poor old Cookie instead. During all this hilarity, Canadian lady is trying to train their football team, however, as the first match proves, they are just dreadful (if you like seeing footballs in the groin and people running into goalposts, buddy this scene is for you!).
Then the orphanage burns down for some reason, plot progression I guess, and suddenly Mr. Butler decides he will train the team, and the kids all suddenly like him. Hurrah! And so with the help and funding of a comedy undertaker (I don’t know, so don’t ask), they start traininnnn…….nurgh…..I can’t, I just can’t relive this any more. Look they train and they win, and Mr. Butler snogs the Canadian lady, and something about Cookie winning a bet so he can buy a new orphanage. The end!
Man this was painful! There are few things worse than bad comedy and this is bad comedy…aimed at children! Also having everyone else in the movie agree that the leading man is painfully unfunny is an odd stylistic choice, I mean this isn’t Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy. We’re suppose to like this guy. Instead the first hour is like watching that embarrassing uncle who thinks kids love him when they’re really all Tweeting about what a dick their uncle is.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with Home Team. A kid’s comedy about kids finding themselves in a predicament, should focus on the kids, not the guy in his late 30’s. In fact the kids are fairly likable for the most part but we rarely get to root for them before Guttenberg blunders in with another routine. It can be fun to side with the kids against the adults in a movie but not when the adults are completely dominating the scene. Take Home Alone or the aforementioned The Goonies for example. That’s how you get the balance of kids to adults.
Instead what we get is 40 minutes of eye rolling, clenched teeth and forced smiles while Steve churns out another tired barrage of gags. I imagine the filmmakers probably hoped they could use some of Guttenberg’s star power to propel this film to success. However, as this was a good few years after his brief comedy reign, they’d have been better off focusing the story squarely on the kids and making the adults the supporting cast.
I’ve sat through rubber dinosaurs, rubbish vampires, and six hours of shit Robocop, during this series. I never expected an innocuous family comedy starring Mahoney from Police Academy would cause me the most pain. To be honest it’s got me scared. All bets are off now. I’m never going to make it out of this with my sanity!
Next time – Billy Dee Williams fights cheap aliens with Rex Manning from Empire Records!