Blackball Movie Review

Apparently there is a sport in Britain with the awkward name of "lawn bowls" that is essentially shuffleboard on a grass lawn.

And apparently, this oddity merited being the subject of a feature film from National Lampoon, the former cultural touchstone that has now become the bottom feeder of American lowbrow humor.

Paul Kaye (essentially the British Breckin Meyer) is Cliff Starkey, a lawn bowls amateur (and deadbeat) who fights his way to the top of his local tournament -- which just so happens to include the game's creator, Ray Speight (James Cromwell). Meanwhile, he's sleeping with Speight's daughter (Alice Evans) and developing a name for himself as the bad boy of lawn bowls, thanks to the help of a nasty agent (Vince Vaughn).

Directed by Mel Smith (High Heels and Low Lifes), this silly romp is a massive departure from fare like Animal House and Dorm Daze, with nary a frat party, a co-ed, or even a university in sight. Presumably, Smith is hoping we find the inherent comedy in lawn bowls, with the idea of throwing a rough-hewn party crasher into the croquet-like sport. Well that's funny for a few minutes, but Starkey's absurd shots (blindfolded, through his legs, what have you) can't carry the film alone. This leads us into the tepid love story and an even sillier national competition, which takes place inside a hyper-modern lawn bowls arena.

It didn't work for Dodgeball and it doesn't work here. In fact, it's more than a little boring, to be honest. How Cromwell and Vaughn got caught up in this I'll never know. My guess is they were given a different script and were kidnapped, forced to appear in this humorless bit of nonsense.


Comments

Blackball Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2003

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