Dusting Off... Varsity Blues
If there's one thing we do well at hmv it's knowing our back catalogue. Our new 'Dusting Off...' series aims to shine a light on forgotten, underrated or just plain classic films and music from the past. This week, it's with a sad poignancy that we opt for 1999 coming of age drama Varsity Blues…
What's it all about?
American football. Specifically a high school team named West Canaan Coyotes, but also so much more than that. This whole town is revolves around the fortunes of the team, it's the only thing in the newspapers, the only subject on talk radio, the up and downs of this group of 18-year old kids throwing a ball around defines everything.
The film superbly captures the intense pressure that these young men, who seem to be carrying the weight of the whole town on their shoulders, must be feeling, and, how kids who are barely enough old to drive are suddenly shoved to the rank of local celebrities.
And who's in it?
Tragically, one of the film's stars Paul Walker (who you will now know better from the Fast And The Furious franchise) passed away earlier this week in a car crash. He plays Lance Harbor, the team's star quarterback, who suffers a nasty injury and soon finds out that life outside the team is much harder.
He's replaced in the starting line-up by James Van Der Beek (best know for being the eponymous Dawson in Dawson's Creek), who plays back-up quarterback Jonathan Moxon, a more rebellious kid by nature, who doesn't fit into Coach Kilmer's plans.
Coach Kilmer, who's coached the Coyotes for over 20 years, is played by a hard-as-nails looking Jon Voight. He's an uncompromising character who doesn't care about the human cost as long as he gets his win. Needless to say that doesn't always work…
There are also star turns from Scot Caan (Formerly a regular in Entourage, now a regular on Hawaii Five-O), Ali Larter (Heroes, Final Destination) and Amy Smart (Crank, Road Trip).
Who will enjoy it?
Everyone, but it will particularly strike a chord with teenagers and young adults. It's funny without being slapstick and the sporting interludes are handled well.
In spite of the unfamiliarity of the subject matter (American football's popularity has increased dramatically in the UK since 1999, but it still looks like lots of large men jumping on each other to most people), the film's themes of friendship and teamwork shine through, meaning you wind up really caring whether the Coyote's wide receiver catches that final pass.
In many ways, this paved the ways for Friday Night Lights, another superb drama based around the fortunes of a football team. You could do worse than get someone this DVD for Christmas…