Every so often a movie comes along that makes you really wonder why some films premiere in theaters and others get shafted and go straight to Blockbuster. Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach is not one of those movies.
Seann William Scott stars as Gary. He becomes a tennis coach.
Honestly, I’m giving the movie too much credit by summarizing the plot even that much. It’s Scott playing an arrogant dipshit, a role he’s mastered, yet here he’s sleepwalking through it all. Can you phone in a performance when your playing a role like this? I’m not knocking Scott here either… he’s a niche actor like Michael Cera or Nicolas Cage and that’s fine. I loved him in the recent Role Models and in 2003’s The Rundown, both of which featured the same basic character. Besides Scott’s own enthusiasm though, the obvious difference seems to be with the quality of the material.
The movie wants to be an underdog comedy along the lines of Meatballs, The Bad News Bears, and The Replacements, but it can’t even reach the dizzyingly low heights of The Benchwarmers. The high school tennis team that Gary attempts to shape into winners consists entirely of kids we never get to really meet. There’s no individual personalities or real characters, and no one for the viewer to really root for or get behind. When they inevitably reach the State Championships it’s with the least suspenseful and exciting sports finale ever. Do we doubt they’ll win? Do we care?
Other highlights from Balls Out include Randy Quaid pretending to face hump a midget, Scott making out with a high school Sophomore, and a foul-mouthed five year-old girl that interrupts one scene to tell her dad she needs an abortion. (Okay, that almost made me laugh.) And speaking of Quaid… not that anyone would see this movie just for him, but when his image and name are featured prominently in ads and on the DVD cover you don’t expect his character to die eleven minutes into the movie.
Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach was the debut screenplay from Andy Stock and Rick Stempson, whose second effort, The Goods: The Don Ready Story, is due out later this year. The duo apparently loves colons almost as much as they love fart and shit jokes. (Take your time…) And they’ve filled Balls Out with all things ass-related. From bowel movements on the courts to anal penetration by way of Mexican donkeys and strap-ons, Stock and Stempson pack it in. Unfortunately they forgot to make any of it funny. And yet they managed to win top prize in a 2005 screenplay competition…
Director Danny Leiner previously helmed the riotous Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but that may have been a fluke. His other credits include Dude, Where’s My Car? and multiple TV episodes of decidedly unfunny shows like “The Sopranos” and “Kath & Kim.” (Although inexplicably, he also directed an episode of “Arrested Development.” I don’t recall any shitty episodes of that show, so my fluke theory may be in jeopardy.)
Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach hits DVD on January 13th from Sony Pictures. The DVD includes deleted scenes, a making-of, and a few minutes of outtakes that actually brought a smile to my face. Still no laughter though…
The Upside: Nothing
The Downside: Everything