Who are you man? Some bitter ex-high school player who never really made it? You sit around, watching sports, criticizing professional athletes ’cause you wish it was you out there.
As you may have noticed from this and my last two reviews, A Night at the Roxbury and The Great White Hype, I have focused a little on funner films since having my sanity torn to pieces of Human Centipede 3 : Full Sequence a few weeks back. I have done this to try and get some of the images of that film out of my head and figured that it was worth reviewing them whilst I was catching up on some of the films.
Firstly, I want you to all be assured that this reviewing of 90s comedies isn’t a long term plan and after this review I only have one more, and then I will return to reviewing a more varied mixture of films, including horrors, thrillers, dramas, and so on. I’m not going to lie though, I am enjoying going back through some of my old films the first time in years,
Now being British, I know pretty much sod all about basketball. I used to play it back in my teens because I was 5 feet 11 by the time I was 11 and towered over everyone else for the first few years of secondary school. I am now 30 years old and am still 5 feet 11. It’s kind of strange being so tall as such a young age and then not grow anymore after that. My shoe size was similar as that was a Size 11 at the age of 10, but again they didn’t grow after that.
Anyway, I digress. So yeah, I played basketball and was pretty good, but other than enjoying playing it, I had no real interest in the sport other than watching movies based on it. The only players I ever really liked are those from the mid 90s, such as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, and to be honest I couldn’t really name you many basketball players since then other than ones such as Lebron James, who I am reliably informed is quite good. But anyway, yeah, it was a sport I never really had a lot of interest in, and yet this and my next review were two of my favourite comedies from the 90s.
Had the length of time since seeing it clouded my memory though? Was this going to be as good as I remembered?
Jimmy (Ackroyd) and Mike (Stern) are set to attend what they hope will be the Championship winning game for their beloved Boston Celtics against the Utah Jazz. Despite splitting up with his wife just hours earlier, Mike only has one thing on his mind and that is the win that would seal the title in the last match to ever be played at the team’s current arena. Things start well as the Celtics take a commanding lead, but then the final period sees Lewis Scott (Wayans) take control of the game and win it with the last shot of the game.
Scott is hated by pretty much everyone and whilst trying to get over the fact that the series is going to a final game, Mike and Jimmy learn that Scott is out on the town partying. They decide to make their way there to try and get Scott so drunk that he can’t play for days. Whilst there they successfully manage to befriend (in Scott’s eyes) him, even to the point where they meet their hero, Larry Bird, and openly (albeit begrudgingly) criticise the Celtics to gain Lewis’ trust. The night progresses and the pair successfully get Lewis drunk.
The next morning everything seems fine until they find that they have kidnapped Lewis and duct taped him so that he can’t escape. Conflicted about what to do, Mike seeks the advice of a friend who is a copy and without giving away what is happening, he learns that kidnapping is kidnapping, regardless of how long it’s for. Jimmy and Mike agree that if they’re going down, they might as well help the Celtics in the process and keep Scott until after the final game. However, they hadn’t banked on Lewis being as smart as he is and he tries to manipulate a wedge between them. How long can they realistically keep him trapped?
As good as I remembered?
Honestly……..no. Whilst not an awful film, this comedy just isn’t really that funny or engaging.
Let’s start with the obvious cliches. How often in sports movies does a team score in the last second, and it’s the exact amount of points that they need to win the game by one point? The Mighty Ducks franchise was rife with that happening and it sticks in this film.
The opening match is played out in a very strange fashion as the Celtics dominate before the Jazz start getting back into the game and only trailing by two with one period to go. You see all the characters majorly panic and it becomes somewhat of a farce, and then Lewis Scott scores with what is pretty much the last touch of the ball to get the Jazz a three pointer, winning by a point. The way that the film plays it out is that the Celtics were falling miles behind and it was hopeless, hence why all the farce was happening, and yet when it switches to the scoreboard you realise that they were less than one second away from winning by the same margin that they had at the beginning of the period.
That to me has created a false atmosphere as, at the very least, the Celtics have been as good as the Jazz in the final period and you only see the scoreboard once? Were the Jazz actually ahead at any point in the period before the final second goal? Characters would not stress and cause as much farce when they’re not actually losing, nor has the lead decreased since you were last made aware of the score.
This probably isn’t helped at all by the characters of Mike and Jimmy. Whilst both are played well be Stern and Ackroyd, neither character shows anything outside of being one dimensional. Neither move beyond being obsessed by sports, it seems to be their only character trait and after a while I was kind of bored by the characters. They’re supposed to be protagonists but I didn’t once get the feeling that I was watching two guys that I want to route for. I mean the very fact that they think that is Lewis Scott celebrating winning a game makes him the scum of the Earth says it all for me.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of sports fans are like that and I know that after watching Lincoln City lose it used to make me miserable for several days in a row, including hating the team who beats us, but I soon got over it (and used to Lincoln City losing), but these guys don’t. Their lives are so one dimensional that in many ways it feels like lazy writing.
Lewis Scott is written quite well and develops decently enough throughout the film, turning from a guy who hates everyone and is hated because of it, to a guy who actually gains a lot of people’s respect. He changes as a character and grows because of his experiences, but Jimmy and Mike don’t.
I don’t know why I am surprised. When I saw that Judd Apatow was the writer then I knew exactly why the characters weren’t particularly well written. I won’t claim to have watched all of the films his written, but out of the ones that he has, none of the characters are particularly well thought out and are kind of bland. When he’s not casting his wife in films, despite her lack of acting ability, he writes exceptionally bland characters and one example I’m going to use is the film Funny People.
Funny People is a lengthy film, I believe that it lasts around 150 minutes and therefore is has a lot of time for character development, or at least the chance to change your characters in a minor way, but they don’t. Pretty much every character, either main or secondary, is exactly the same at the end of the film as they were at the beginning.
Main characters aside, the secondary characters in Celtic Pride are woefully underdeveloped and seem even more one dimensional that Mike and Jimmy. For example, one character is a cop that is friends with Mike, and when a guy goes to report his car stolen, he is too busy chatting to Mike about the Celtics, in front of the guy, and when the guy rightfully questions why this is more important than the crime that he been comitted, the cop insults him on a personal level just because he dared to interrupt a conversation about something completely irrelevant. It’s just unbelievably bad, one-dimensional character writing.
They miss so many good opportunities for interesting subplots, such as a concessions vendor bringing Jimmy a hotdog in the opening game, and there is quite clearly some romantic interest between the two of them, but it isn’t even remotely explored again until the final game, and even then it only lasts a few seconds, if that. It would have been so easy, if a little cliched, to give Jimmy that romantic subplot and it almost makes you wonder why they bothered putting it in the film when it eventually turns out that it was completely pointless.
The only part about the film that I actually liked was that Lewis tries to mentally manipulate Mike and Jimmy quite fascinating. He turns them against each other several times and it’s clear that he is more than a match for both of them. In many ways it actually feels like he is keep them hostage, and that is quite unique. The fact that he is able to read them so easily, such as correctly guessing that Mike was a player that never made it and was bitter because of this, shows that he’s not just your average athlete and can out-think and outwit the two.
A comedy that doesn’t make you laugh is not a good thing. Celtic Pride attempts to be a comedy but ultimately fails due to the poor writing of the characters and the ultimate waste of any potential interesting developments in their lives.
Wayans is comfortably the best thing about this film and whilst neither Ackroyd or Stern put in a poor performance for their characters, even the best actors can’t put in a good performance when they’re handed such poor characters. The two main characters, who are supposed to be your protagonists, end up boring you to death and that’s never a good thing.
If you’re in the mood to watch a basketball film then I’d recommend that you watch it, but other than that I’d say avoid it.