Gary the Tennis Coach is no Stifler
By G. Michael Dobbs
A bad comedy and two interesting sets from the History Channel are in this week's DVD column.
Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach
Back in the 1980s, I used to get various odd things sent to me by studios to help attract my attention to their current theatrical releases. For example, Columbia sent me a dipstick from a car to publicize its movie "Used Cars," with the promise I would receive a part of month to eventually I would be able to build my own used car.
It would be done about now, I bet.
Well, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment just didn't send me a DVD screener of "Balls Out," they also sent me a brand new athletic supporter as a gift -- I guess.
I suppose the gift ties into the scene in which star Seann William Scott coaches the tennis team at a small Nebraska high school in just his athletic supporter.
The director of two of my favorite junk moves, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" and "Dude! Where's My Car?" directed this film in a style I can best describe as a combination of "Napoleon Dynamite" with a low-rent frat comedy.
Williams plays the title character, a has-been tennis player who accidentally winds up the janitor of a high school and who gets to coach the tennis team when the former coach drops dead. His technique to inspire his students includes beer, lap dances, cursing and various scatological behaviors.
Somehow we're supposed to buy into this guy as a lovable eccentric. I'm afraid I didn't.
Although there are a few scattered laughs, largely this comedy is pretty barren of chuckles. Williams tries hard to impress, but he is let down by a really poor script.
Unless you're really desperate, watch something else -- almost anything.
Jurassic Fight Club
Hey, you might think that paleontology is some sort of passive egghead discipline with scientists content to scratch stone and dirt away from bones that they then assemble like some sort of model, but think again! There's a lot of action there, although it's sort of like "CSI" action -- piecing together stories from dinosaur crime scenes.
That's the spirit of the television show "Jurassic Fight Club." The first season has been collected in a new four-disc set and it's a rock 'em, sock 'em show. The premise is that a real prehistoric "crime scene" is explained and re-created for the viewers. For instance, one show explains a fossil finds in which a juvenile T. Rex was killed. What other dinosaur would have dared attack and successfully killed the most feared predator of its age?
Another show examines a "gang" attack of smaller raptor dinos on a docile vegetarian beast. Four raptor remains were found along with the "victim." How did that happen?
Using computer animation, the show recreates the grisly action as described by a number of scientists. They don't pull too many punches so be aware that younger viewers will see dinos ripping each other up.
The show is informative and pretty fast moving and just might be something to interest younger people in history and science blood and guts do have charms for some.
Monster Quest: Season Two
If I ever hit the lottery, I will do many things and chief among them would be underwriting a cryptozoological expedition someplace to try to fund proof of an unconfirmed species of animal.
But since I don't have access to millions of dollars to chase a lake monster or Big Foot, the next best thing is watching people who are doing that in "Monster Quest."
The second season continues the satisfying formula of having actual scientists go out into the field to try to collect evidence of a wide variety of disputed creatures. They don't always come up completely empty-handed, as their investigations have indeed produced interesting photos, hair samples and footprints.
It's hard to dispute the mega-hogs that have been killed and photographed or the attacks on farm animals in which the predator leaves the body behind but drains the victim of blood.
Sometimes the shows are a bit silly, such as the one in which the investigators put a camera rig on a rat in New York City to try to catch a glimpse of a "super rat." What the heck, though -- this is the cutting edge of science!
This show is a lot of fun and seems a bit more plausible than the various ghost investigation shows that almost never are convincing.