You never know what you’re gonna see at Tribeca Film Festival. One out of left field film from last year was BALLS OUT. Wrong sports metaphor in this case since this particular movie revolves around an intramural college flag football league. Starring a rag tag team of hilarious and talented people like Jake Lacy, Kate McKinnon, Nikki Reed, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah and many, many more, Balls Out pulls no punches when it comes to the A-typical sports genre movie. Caleb (Jake Lacy) is a fifth year senior with law school on the brain and an overbearing and hilariously high-on-life girlfriend (Kate McKinnon). Suddenly finding himself faced with having his future mapped out for him, he begins to reminisce about his freshman year and his flag football team’s- The Panthers- epic win over a douchebag rival team the Titans. Haunted by the how the first game ended with the paralysis of his best friend, Caleb struggles to commit to what makes him truly happy. Balls Out is an unapologetic underdog story, that’s frankly funny as hell. Every single sports cliche you can think of is admittedly thrown in your face. Training montages, two stoner fans acting as the league’s “official announcers”, hidden personal agendas, each Panther member being just slightly too weird for reality, and a rival captain so damn ridiculous you love to hate him. All this is admitted in the actual dialogue. The film never takes itself seriously at any moment, which is what makes it so great. I was not expecting to like this film at all, and it ended up being my favorite comedy of the fest last year.So let’s talk performances in Balls Out. Jake Lacy is, for lack of a better phrase, relatively straight laced, in comparison to the rest of the cast. Nikki Reed does an excellent job playing the girl who comes into Caleb’s life just when he needs it most. This was a nice departure for Reed coming off the Twilight series and a great follow up to her quirky performance in last year’s Murder of a Cat. She is cool and fun. Kate McKinnon steals every scene she is in. Since she joined SNL, I have been touting her as the new Amy Poehler. One wide-eyed look from this gal is comedy gold. Newly minted Panther head coach is played by Nick Kocher. Wher has this kis been all my life? He easily flips from just amusing to sidesplitting comedy with the ease of someone twice his age. How is he not in everything right now? Team him up with Chris Pratt, like yesterday. I want over saturation of Kocher immediately. Jay Pharoah and D.C. Pierson‘s narration as the sideline peanut gallery makes the game sequences what they are. Now, let’s get real for a moment. Hands down, once again,the star of this film is Beck Bennett. I have been a fan ever since his national AT&T campaign. Believing he is vastly under utilized on SNL, I have been privileged to see his outstanding movie roles thus far. His last film, Beside Still Waters (a MUST see), was on the opposite end spectrum on his testosterone driven revenge obsession in Balls Out. Like McKinnon, each frame he appears in he completely owns. I don’t know how anyone kept a straight face having to be in a scene with him. It makes me wonder how much of his dialogue is improvised. I would imagine the DVD blooper reel with feature him heavily. Cheers to Beck for bring this film over the goal line.
BALLS OUT arrives theatrically and on VOD June 19th.
TRT: 100 min
Camera: RED Epic
Rated: R for crude and sexual material, language and some drug use
SYNOPSIS: With graduation, marriage, and an uncertain future on the horizon, fifth year college senior Caleb Fuller (Jake Lacy) decides to do the one thing he vowed to never do again: get the ol’ flag football team back together. Now with the help of his Panther teammates and unorthodox head coach Grant Rosenfalis (Nick Kocher), Caleb must defy all odds and logic if he ever hopes to achieve the intramural football glory he once had. Set in the highly popular world of college intramural sports, BALLS OUT is the epic sports movie for the guys who don’t deserve one.