Released: 28th January
Seen: 31st January
In 2012 the coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton (Kevin James), received a one-year suspension for his part in a scandal that was known as “bounty gate” where players on the team were paid to intentionally injure players on the other team. Now, Sean has maintained his innocence in this and the details are more complicated than I care to look into (I’m not a sports person, I had to get all that off Wikipedia so I understood the situation as best I could) but the key point is that Sean didn’t coach his team during 2012 and instead used that time to coach his son’s sixth-grade team during that season. This story is the inspiration for the movie Home Team, which is what happens when the Happy Madison team decides to make a sports biopic and then gets bored and just makes their usual shit.
The general plot doesn’t deviate that much from the loose description I just gave, but like a drug dealer trying to make a kilo of cocaine spread as much as possible they’ve cut this up with an inferior product in the form of basic Sports movie cliches and Happy Madison bullshit… and much like the drugs from the dealer, this movie will make you feel pretty lousy. If the film isn’t doing a repetitive version of things that were done better back in the 80s it’s just doing all the things that Happy Madison films at their worst do… AKA unfunny jokes, nonsensical setups and letting Rob Schneider continue to have a career despite his complete lack of talent.
It really hurts to have to hate a film starring Kevin James so soon after he completely won me over with his stellar work in Becky but oh boy do I genuinely not like this film. Home Team is what happens when someone desperately wants to make a biopic but doesn’t have the time to do the research that goes into it so they just read Wikipedia once and then violently slam a shitty version of Bad News Bears into the gaps until the film is roughly 90 minutes long. Who cares if it happened, if it makes sense or if it’s funny, we have 90 minutes to fill and Netflix is picking up the tab so just do whatever you want.
You can really feel how much they just crammed in the usual Happy Maddison/Sports movie bullshit throughout Home Team. Rob Schneider’s character Jamie has absolutely no purpose to the plot in any way/shape/form but he’s there because a Happy Maddison film must have Rob Schneider (who the hell else is going to hire him at this point?). There’s a lengthy scene where the entire team projectile vomits and I can pretty much promise that’s not something that really happened but it wouldn’t be a Happy Maddison film without a very unfunny joke involving bodily fluids and having a bunch of 12-year-olds vomit out their souls ticks that box. Oh and there’s the random side character who says wild inappropriate things but doesn’t impact the main story at all. The last time I saw this much filler I was sitting in the waiting room of a plastic surgeon.
There’s no real decent story being told here, is Home Team about Sean trying to reconnect with his kid? Well if that’s the goal they sucked at it because those two have maybe 3 scenes together if they’re lucky. Is Home Team just telling the story of what happened? No, god no, oh god no. Does Sean learn a lesson about how to treat people better or maybe even have to atone for his scandal? No, indeed the very scandal that caused Sean Payton to be put in this situation is basically just window dressing and is never brought up by actual characters in the film. That’s how disconnected this thing is from what happened, they can’t even be bothered to make Home Team about the very scandal that made this story possible in the first place.
You almost wanna say that they should’ve just removed the name Sean Payton and just done a generic film about some Superbowl coach teaching a children’s football team and getting into conflict with his assistant coach… oh wait, I forgot, there is no conflict here either. See, the kids’ team in Home Team is already being coached by a guy named Troy Lambert (Taylor Lautner) and you might think that there would be a conflict between Troy and Sean but you would be thinking like someone who actually cares about film and the art of storytelling… that’s not the Happy Madison way. Nope, Troy and Sean get along the entire time with no problems and it’s boring.
Look, I had absolutely no expectations for Home Team and yet somehow I’m still let down. It’s a bland, boring, unfunny and padded monster of a film that doesn’t know what the hell it wants to be. It certainly didn’t choose to be anything worth watching, that’s for damn sure. Once again, the people who made this and every other film by this specific company are delivering the bare minimum to technically count as a film with no effort put in. There are a thousand other great sports movies out there, go watch any of those instead of suffering through Home Team. Don’t encourage these people, they will never learn!