‘Home Team’ movie review: Kevin James can’t save this mess disguised as a ‘sports comedy’

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The Kinnane brothers’ recent offering hastily juggles multiple genres without doing any justice

The Kinnane brothers’ recent offering hastily juggles multiple genres without doing any justice

Just a few minutes later, it’s obvious that
Home team won’t try very hard to distinguish itself from the usual sports comedies like we’ve seen countless times before.

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Apparently based on Sean Payton’s stint as coach of the New Orleans Saints, the film begins with insight into the 2009-11 NFL scandal known as “Bountygate.” However, the narrative quickly sweeps the incident under the rug and shines the spotlight on an ill-fated 12-year-old football team (Payton’s estranged son among them) who enlists Payton as their coach. If it weren’t for the passing references to Payton’s former life as an NFL guru, he could easily be mistaken for another dad-turned-coach coaching his son’s football team.

With notable names such as Kevin James, Taylor Lautner, and Rob Schneider gracing the screen, the film is poised to find an emotional hook that could anchor its vapid script. But a series of unresolved intrigues, impossible scenarios and stereotypical characters sound the death knell very early on. Sean Payton (played by James) is portrayed as an aggressive, no-nonsense coach who tells his players to “suck” when they get tired. When his suspicious son confronts him about his decision to coach a gang of tweens, he has no answer. The tension between them is acknowledged, but never fully explored.

The film is barely consistent in its tone. Despite claiming to be a “sports comedy”, the story is interspersed with moments of forced humor that seem out of place, and it’s unclear if
Home team aspires to be a biopic, sports movie, or family movie. Even in his relatively serious scenes, he fails to conjure up meaningful moments. The final nail in the coffin comes in the form of an unrealistic victory…in which Payton’s team claim victory by puking on their opponents. While slapstick humor may appeal to children, this brand of comedy rarely elicits a laugh from older audiences.

The story is also bumped up by a host of uninteresting characters; a clumsy assistant coach who doubles as a (sometimes literal) punching bag, a simpering single mother looking for love, and a dimwitted assistant, to name a few. The film’s saving grace is in its child actors, who happily bite into their roles. The result is a pack of talkative, carefree boys who understand football primarily through food metaphors.

Home team takes too many detours and tests the limits of its genre trying to tackle everything from teenage awkwardness and young love to a career meltdown. Just like the players in the film, he is more content with a touchdown than aspiring to victory.

Home Team is currently streaming on Netflix

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