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10/17/08

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If you've read this site before, you know I have a special place in my heart for 80's movies. Especially for the ones that I grew up with, those that I saw 50 times on HBO or burned out our family's first VCR watching over and over. Wildcats was one of those films. It had just about everything a prepubescent boy would want to see, crude sex jokes, farting, high school football, and a brief glimpse of Goldie Hawn naked. Like most films from this time in my childhood, there came a point where I stopped watching them. Discovering filmmakers like Scorsese or Kubrick, I wanted more sophisticated films. These were forgotten or regulated to guilty pleasures of the past.

Running across Wildcats in the discount bin, I had brief memories of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes rapping about football, a kid bashing in lockers with his head, a fat guy blocking a big kick, and fancy stolen hubcaps on a VW bus. I didn't have much expectations for a well made comedy, I only wanted to walk down memory lane. Once I had it home, it didn't take long for me to pop it in. Instead of watching a copy of the classic On the Waterfront, I'd been holding on to for too long, I went with the high school jock movie I'd seen 20+ times in my past. I'll always go for the easy watch first.

The amazing thing was that Wildcats turned out to be nearly as good as I remembered. The childish sex jokes worked on a new level. The dramatic elements, about a woman wanting to coach high school football and having to do so in a bad part of town, seemed genuine. The verbal abuse, treated comically, she takes from her players, ex-husband and former boss ring true. Everything about the film is a cliché, but they're classic movie elements that work and are well executed. Goldie Hawn is at the top of her game here, she's bubbly cute, with perfect comedic timing. Her team is full of actors that went on to better roles; Woody Harrelson is the smart-ass QB, Wesley Snipes is the cocksure wide-receiver, and Mykelti Williamson is the ultimate talent, who'd rather spend his time being a criminal. The film also features great character actors, like M. Emmet Walsh as Goldie's attorney who only talks in football terms, James Keach as her manipulative ex-husband, Bruce McGill plays her sexist former boss and coach of her crosstown rivals, and Nipsey Russell cracked me up as the principle of her new school with his every utterance of the word "Riiiight."

It's most definitely an 80's movie, with awful fashions and hair styles, an incredibly cheesy music montage with the boys becoming a team, and a very young LL Cool J rapping about football. Except for the 80's setting, I think the film works better than most of today's comedies. It doesn't rely on easy pop-culture jokes and you actually become invested in the characters and their underdog story. The film has its flaws, but they're quickly forgotten as the movie moves effortlessly ahead with its solid screenplay and strong acting. The film is well directed by Michael Rithchie, who directed one of the greatest sports comedies ever The Bad News Bears, the scenes flow well and the football scenes actually make sense. If you watch a lot of sports movies as a sport fan, you'll notice a lot of over-the-top stuff that doesn't really happen on the field or even worse is when the games just aren't played right. If you're a fan of 80's and/or sports movies you could do much worse than Goldie Hawn and her Wildcats. - Grade: B (Seen on 10/10/08)


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