Elements of college football border on the comedic, and in the right hands, the sport is fodder for some outstanding film. Veep co-stars Matt Walsh and Timothy Simons apparently see the potential, as The Hollywood Reporter says the duo successfully pitched a college football-themed comedy to Paramount.
Details are very scarce at this point, but I’m optimistic. An approach akin to that of Veep is actually perfect: an absurdist spin on the daily operations of something taken oh-so-seriously. A writing team well-versed in the some of the more mundane aspects of running a college football program could launch a whole
Walsh as a stressed-out compliance officer, overseeing a football program run amuck? I’d pay to see that on opening weekend — in part because it would be something completely different.
Sports comedies are pretty few-and-far between of late, in part because they’re rarely well-executed. You can probably blame the decline in quality from Will Ferrell’s good Talladega Nights, to bad Blades of Glory, to dreadful Semi-Pro for putting the niche out to pasture in the last half-decade or so.
The sub-genre follows the same overall blueprint as the more dramatic entries. A guilty-pleasure of mine, the Paramount-produced Necessary Roughness is, in essence, not that different from other sports movies: a team of underdogs endures hardships en route to a climatic meeting with its rival at the movie’s end.
In the years since the excellent Major League, Necessary Roughness is easily one of the better entries in the sports comedy genre.
It doesn’t help that, along with being somewhat formulaic, the genre tends to market to the lowest common denominator. In a world with entries like The Benchwarmers, Juwanna Mann, Eddie and The Sixth Man, somehow chief generator of lazy, juvenile humor Adam Sandler stands out as a shining beacon with The Waterboy — not a great movie by any means, but it has its moments.
College football has enough material in its recent history, however, that script writers could borrow from the headlines and craft some hilarious fiction. That there are so few examples of good, college football-themed comedies is rather perplexing.
Revenge of the Nerds alludes to college football (below scene filmed at Arizona Stadium), but only in passing.
Varsity Blues, which follows post-graduate age actors playing high school players, interjects comedy that works but ultimately fits within the framework of its over-the-top, teen-drama cheese.
One of the best examples of themes prevalent in college football working as a comedic device is — and I write this 100 percent sincerity — an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures titled, “The Acme Bowl.”
Children of the ’90s will remember this story line, which — in its own, unique way — played up recruiting malfeasance and point-shaving in football as a central theme. And, no, you aren’t reading The Onion right now. Why do you ask? Anyway…
Veep has done well playing up the ridiculousness of the Beltway without embellishment or dumbing down its comedy. Walsh and Simons doing likewise for college football could tap a rich pipeline from the sport to Hollywood.