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Varsity Blues (1999)

Directed by Brian Robbins

This testosterone-fueled cruise through a small town in Texas, that is obsessed with its high school football team, is a solid piece of exploitation. After all, America doesn't pick just any movie to be number one at the box office for two weeks in a row (anyone remember "Patch Adams"? What the hell was that all about?). The story centers around "Dawson's Creek's" perpetual virgin James Van Der Beek. He's a second fiddle quarterback who finds himself suddenly thrust into the limelight after the star QB goes down with a blown knee. The problem is that the team's coach is a madman determined to win another division title at any cost -- even the blood, bones and futures of his young players. A totally bloated-out Jon Voight plays the coach in a relatively subtle portrayal of evil. It ain't "Hamlet" but the movie likes its jug-head heroes of the gridiron and takes their lives and problems seriously.

Varsity Blues (1999) -- whip cream

The slight moral dilemma for our hero is whether the rewards of being good ("I've been good my entire life. What has it gotten me?") outweigh the pleasures of being bad. Case in point, he's got a beautiful and serious minded girlfriend but is being stalked by a torrid wench who likes to seduce her "men" by donning a whip cream bikini. He's definitely tempted by the heat of adoring fans and the creamy blonde cheerleader. When he rejects her, we get to see the humiliating aftermath of her ploy as she tries to act cool while wearing nothing but a glob of frosting on each breast and one on her crotch. This scenario alone ensures "Varsity Blues" at least a $4.00-worth-renting-on-video rating in this birdcage-liner known as Hollywood Outsider. In a surprising twist, the movie doesn't vilify the cheerleader for her sexual aggressiveness but reveals her as someone who is extremely desperate to avoid a gloomy future in a dead-end town -- a weird turn of events in a film of this lowly genre.

Some of the other notable elements in "Varsity Blues" -- Van Der Beek's young brother has a religious fixation which prompts him to walk around with a cross strapped to his back, then later, dons a porkpie hat and sunglasses while praising Allah at a Seven/Eleven; one of the "boys" steals a police car and packs it with naked "girls" for a joyride around town; a teacher who acts like a porno actress trying to act like a teacher (or so I've heard about such performances); an all-nighter to a strip club where the "boys" discover that their teacher is also an exotic dancer (no kidding).

Varsity Blues (1999) -- hot for teacher

To keep the movie watchable and the characters likable, the storyline avoids all the baggage that usually comes along with meatheads like these jerks. These jocks don't terrorize all those weaker than themselves. They don't dabble in date-rape or drugs and there are no serious consequences to their driving drunk or gunplay. Though, they bang chicks left and right, unwanted pregnancies or even herpes doesn't trouble them. In short, it's the way a film like this outta be! It's good, clean fun where nobody gets hurt and evil is defeated... but it has a truly nineties message: nice guys do finish last. -- Rating: $6.74 ($4.00 for the whip cream bikini)

Tom Graney -- copyright Hollywood Outsider 1999

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