Review: The Comebacks

Emboldened by their alarming success with "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie," 20th Century Fox has ordered up another round of lampooning that doesn't send-up its targets as much as it tweaks, ever so slightly, established buffoonery. The bottom line is "The Comebacks" (IMDb listing) is a loathsome filmgoing experience, created by the brain-dead for the brain-dead.

After decades of coaching travesties, Lambeau Fields (David Koechner) has been offered a football slot at Heartland University. Assembling a ragtag group of kids to play for him, Fields takes the squad and teaches them the basics of inspirational sports movies, along with the requirements that their grades must be atrocious and their drinking out of control. Spending the season trying to shape these losers into a winning team, Lambeau finds his greatest challenge is to beat his old assistant coach (Carl Weathers) at the 2nd Annual Toilet Bowl.

Full disclosure: I was the guy who liked director Tom Brady's previous feature film, "The Hot Chick." I'm not proud of it, but there was something sinister and astute in the way "Chick" broke down the absurdity of the female teenage years. I wasn't expecting Brady to follow-up "Chick" with this monstrosity of spoof; a gluttonous, lazy collection of lifeless callbacks and uneventful sight gags, parodying films that were already skating on the thin ice of legitimacy.

Unlike most of this new trend of pea-brain, dime-store lampoons, there's not one overall picture "Comebacks" is riffing from. Instead, the feature cherry picks its targets from all over the cinematic map. There's a little "Radio" to be found in the character of iPod (try to guess what they call his specialty dance!), some "Friday Night Lights" in the fringes of verbally abusive, cross-dressing football fathers, a huge lift from "Stick It" (going against the established rule that films satirized should be pictures people have actually seen), and assorted nuggets from "Field of Dreams," "Rocky Balboa," "Invincible," "Miracle," and ""Dodgeball."

Strangely, Brady isn't always convinced his audience is grasping the target, so he'll have one of the characters state the name of the movie in their dialogue ("Don't go all 'Blue Crush' on me," "This is my 'Gridiron Gang'"), presumably for the younger viewers who will be the majority to actually pay to see this garbage.

Not convinced "Comebacks" is witless, charmless, laugh-free creation? Check this comedy cameo list out: Andy Dick, Bradley Cooper, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Eric Christian Olsen, Finesse Mitchell, Drew Lachey, Stacey Keibler, and Frank Caliendo (doing his tired John Madden impression for umpteenth time). Wow. It's like a who's who of the dreadfully unfunny.

Still not convinced? Brady calls in Dennis Rodman to appear as Lambeau's basketball-dominating prison warden. I think the child sitting behind me put it best when he turned to his parent and asked, "Who's that, mommy?"

Toss in a teeth-grinding non sequitur musical number set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," a couple of bus-speeding-through-the-frame-and-striking-a-character gags, various moments of Koechner with a strange flop-sweat look on his face as though he knows he's in the middle of a career-ending turkey, not one, but two jokes about the Duke University lacrosse team, and voila! You have one of the worst excuses for a mainstream comedy to be found this year.

Filmfodder Grade: F