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Monday, January 9, 2012


As an Andy Dick fan, I may not be qualified to review an Andy Dick movie because I have a tendency to think he's really funny, which gives normal people the impression that it's a good movie even though they may actually find it quite the opposite.  Regarding the recent college football comedy DIVISION III: FOOTBALL'S FINEST (2011), for example--I loved it.  Please take this into consideration.

Anyway, for a low-budget comedy, this is not only well-made and loaded with funny gags and good performances by a gaggle of talented comic actors, but it's also a pretty decent football flick. Dick stars as hotheaded and controversial coach Rick Vice, known for once trying to murder his entire Pee Wee League team and now hired to shape up the "Blue Cocks", the losing team of a small liberal arts college whose ditzy football-hating president Georgia Anne (Mo Collins) hopes Vice's infamy will net her school some publicity.

Dick's volatile and tightly-wound character is a perfect vehicle for his brand of comedy as Coach Vice mercilessly berates, threatens, and physically attacks his players at every opportunity while also reeling off a series of nonsensical spittle-spewing diatribes filled with botched metaphors.  The obligatory training montage finds him either breaking clipboards and folding chairs over his players' heads or riding a bicycle onto the field wielding a yardage marker like a jousting lance as the team runs for their lives.

Director and co-writer Marshall Cook nicely underplays the role of benchwarming quarterback Mitch DePrima, who gets his big chance when the star QB defects to a rival team, the Cougars (we know the Blue Cocks and the Cougars will clash in the big game at the end--that's just how these things work).  Mitch gains confidence and a sense of purpose over the course of the film in addition to awkwardly courting the team's pretty medic, Jennifer (Alison Haislip), and his pleasantly amusing story arc doesn't intrude on the more farcical goings-on.

Michael Jace is fine as Roy Goodwyn, hired by Georgia Anne as a back-up coach because he actually knows what he's doing, and the jealous rivalry between Roy and Rick provides some good moments.  Co-writer Paul Henderson shines as Rick's obese, endearingly crude assistant Bob, especially when asked to deliver a pre-game prayer in the locker room that turns into a ringing assault against "evilution" ("Now I don't know about you, but MY Jesus...he didn't slay those Philistines with the jawbone of a brontosaurus rex!")  Rounding out the main cast is Bru Muller as linebacker Joe Jansen, who, at 38, is apprehensively facing the prospect of his final college football season.

Making the most of its meager budget, DIVISION III: FOOTBALL'S FINEST breezily yocks up all the familiar football film cliches as the team battles its way to the championship game (which is actually pretty suspenseful), infusing the usual situations with Andy Dick's own peculiar brand of off-kilter comedy.  Much of it is improvised, with the bonus menu's deleted and extended scenes containing reams of good material that didn't make it into the final cut. 

The delightful and somewhat MILF-a-licious Mo Collins contributes her share of these comic moments, along with fellow "MADtv" alumni Debra Wilson as nympho head cheerleader Mandy and Bryan Callen as inept sportscaster Denny "D-Dog" Dawson.  Will Sasso and a wickedly sarcastic Adam Carolla bring on the funny as sparring sports commentators for a local cable channel.  The venerable Sally Kirkland appears briefly as Rick's politically-incorrect landlady, Crystal. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  In addition to a funny and engaging commentary track by Andy Dick and Marshall Cook, bonus material includes outtakes, several deleted and extended scenes, and a trailer.  (Just to be extra nitpicky, the word "extended" is spelled wrong on the DVD menu.) 

Like a poor man's THE LONGEST YARD crossed with "The Andy Dick Show", DIVISION III: FOOTBALL'S FINEST manages to succeed both as a modest gridiron flick and a series of off-the-wall gags, tirades, outbursts, assaults, and ridiculous monologues.  If you like Andy Dick, you'll definitely have fun watching this.  If not, then you probably won't watch it anyway.  And if you don't know who Andy Dick is, well, don't say I didn't warn you.  Even though, technically, I didn't.

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