Home Team is The Waterboy without the charm or Henry Winkler.
This review of the Netflix film Home Team does not contain spoilers.
Only an Adam Sandler production can take Bounty Gate and make the well-documented situation into a children’s comedy. Even worse, the entire script brushes over the subject as if it was a misunderstanding. Home Team is very loosely based on, even if it’s inspired by, a true story. It’s a comedy with zero laughs because it has absolutely no jokes. It plays out like a lame character study without any direction when you combine a total lack of discernible plot. This is like taking Koyla (1996) and watering it down into Big Daddy (oh). That film is a classic compared to this.
The film’s subject is Sean Payton (played here by Kevin James), the Super Bowl-winning head coach of the New Orleans Saints. He was suspended for a year, and his defensive coordinator Greg Williams paid bonuses to injure opposing teams’ players. Payton heads home to Texas to see his son, who he hasn’t seen in a while. He arrives, wearing a Saints t-shirt, and checks into a hotel with a talking jacuzzi. (Not a long story, but not worth explaining). He ends up helping coach his son’s 12-year old squad as the team’s offensive coordinator.
The film is filled with cardboard cutouts and actors from previous Sandler comedies. You have Payton’s ex-wife (Jackie Sandler), who is thrilled he is in town. She is remarried to Jamie (Rob Schneider), a hippy-vegan living off Payton’s money. He feeds a team’s snacks that cause a Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life stomach-turning scene. I’m sure kids will find this the funniest scene ever. It is time-tested but has been done a thousand times since that classic above.
James’s brother, Gary Valentine, plays a dull version of Farmer Fran. Sandler regular Taylor Lautner is the kid’s head coach and walks through the role. Even Allen Covert makes an appearance. The whole thing makes you long for the days of Peter Dante and Jonathan Loughran. Even the return of “tit-head” from Little Nicky.
Directed by Charles and Daniel Kinnane, the duo has done a handful of short films with James. Here, working with a script from Keith Blum and Chris Titone (another Sandler alum), the whole thing is uninspired and lazy. Even forget that they don’t offer a story of redemption for the scandal. That’s debatable. This so-called comedy fails to provide a redeemable story arc for Payton, which is sorely needed because he is such an absentee father in the first place.
Yes, the primary theme is Payton discovering the joy of football again and reconnecting with his family. That is intentional. What is unintentional is revealing what a poor father he is. There is a scene where it is revealed his son has not only has never been to a game in New Orleans that his father was coaching, but he has never been to the Big Easy, even for a visit.
However, that is all besides the point. These situations are embellished for effect to manipulate the audience. The fact of the matter is Home Team lacks any comic identity, for better or worse. It’s The Waterboy without the charm and Sandler alums with jokes to play with.
Where is Henry Winkler when you need him?
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