Don’t Judge a Film by its Branding

When I’m old, grey, and even more bitter, I’ll gather my grandchildren around (pulling them away from The Walking Dead, which is still somehow scraping plot-points from the bottom of its shallow barrel) and make them watch ‘Balls Out’.

Yes, it’s a thing. And it’s not the raunchy sort of movie that may come to mind. Although, granted, it’s totally not suitable for grandchildren — that’ a bad move on future me’s part but you’ve got to understand that 2065 is a different time.

Okay, so… ‘Balls Out’. Why am I advocating this movie so passionately? Why am I marching outside the National History Museum trying to get them to open an exhibit dedicated to this limited release comedy that was distributed by Orion Pictures (because apparently Orion Pictures is a thing again?).

Well, let me start by saying that the branding is B.S., its clearly been set up to cash in on that low budget sex comedy market. It’s worth noting that the film was originally called ‘Intramural’ before having the ridiculous name ‘Balls Out’ thrust upon it.

How did my crazy adventure with this movie start? Good question. Check out this GIF:

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Yep. One of the characters in ‘Balls Out’ happens to be a magician who bends the reality of the film almost as much as its not-so-serious tone. The GIF is reasonably funny though, right? I saw it while gallivanting around the Internet one day and had a good chuckle myself. A few weeks later I saw another extract featuring the same character and was intrigued to find out more. This looked like a funny flick. I needed to do some research.

A catastrophically unsuccessful trip to the national library left me still without a clue. Then I remembered that IMDb is a thing. In hindsight, the library was never really going to pan out.

A quick search and… what?… ‘Balls Out’?…. this funny looking movie is called Balls bleddy Out? The movie poster displayed is primarily of a woman’s behind. The IMDb rating is an abysmal 4.5 out of 10.

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At this stage, I was conflicted. The movie poster, long lost brother of the book cover, looked truly awful. However, my research also led me to discover the film has a solid cast of Saturday Night Live funny people including Kate McKinnon (who cracks me up with ease and, along with the return of Slimer, makes the Ghostbusters reboot an interesting concept).

Contradicting that shambolic IMDb rating is the 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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I could not make sense of any of it meaning that I now had to give it a watch. The film is available on Netflix if this has you feeling like a Curious George too. (EDIT: The film is not available on Netflix in the US — I took a look and found that it is on Amazon Prime Video for you guys, though.)

So if it’s not a post-American Pie raunchy teen sex comedy, then what is it? Well, the film exists to spoof sports movies and those that take intramural football ultra-seriously in America (as a British bumpkin, I had no idea what intramural football was and even after watching the film still am not entirely certain).  But I digress… the film nails its target of parodying the sports movie formula — even if its a little formulaic itself. It gets off to a slow start — the inciting incident is literally some guy getting an injury that paralyses his man parts (I guess that this, along with the ball they use to play their sport, is the loose connection made by whoever’s responsible for branding the film ‘Balls Out’). However, this silly injury spawns a fun character, portrayed well by Nick Kocher, who carries the majority of laughs along with Kate McKinnon.

So there you have it. I don’t know why this movie is such an anomaly, frankly I still don’t know if it’s particularly good or not. All I know is that it made me laugh. Quite a lot. This movie — one that could so easily be swiped past on Netflix after seeing and instantly dismissing that truly horrendous name and movie poster…

And though my future grandchildren may question why I cut out Citizen Kane and The Godfather to screen this as part of my ‘Great American Cinema Festival’ — deep down they’ll know it deserves its place on the throne. And as they walk through the ‘Balls Out’ exhibit at the Donald Trump Museum of Natural History, they’ll know that their grandfather was an American hero in the guise of a British bumpkin who found some random Netflix movie pretty funny and decided to blog about it.

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