What says Friday night during the fall months better than high school football? The sun sets; the temperatures cool; and the sounds of marching bands, spectator’s cheers, and the crackling of shoulder pads crashing into one another echo through the neighborhoods. Ah, memories.
So, grab the old letter jacket, microwave some popcorn, grill a few hot dogs, crack open a coke, and curl up on the sofa for a great movie that reminds us of the good ol’ Friday nights in fall.
Varsity Blues (1999)
High school football is life in West Canaan, Texas, and anybody who’s anybody plays their part for the team. Training begins at a very early age: the girls perfect their toe-touches and the boys practice tossing the pigskin through a tire hanging from a tree as soon as they can stand.
Jonathan “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek, Dawson’s Creek) plays quarterback for the West Canaan team. Backup quarterback. His best friend, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker, Fast and the Furious I, II, IV, V), is the starting quarterback. The competition doesn’t bother the two boys, but it drives their fathers absolutely crazy.
The two teens seemingly have it all – Mox has the grades for prestigious Brown University, and he has a healthy teenage relationship with his best friend’s sister (Jules Harbor played by Amy Smart, Butterfly Effect). Lance doesn’t have the grades, but he does have an opportunity to play college ball, and he’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader (Darcy Sears played by Ali Larter, Heroes).
Everything comes crashing down around the boys when Lance injures his knee during a game. Mox is thrown onto the field and thrust into the spotlight. He wasn’t as prepared as he should have been having not expected to play, but he manages his way through the final buzzer and later rushes to the hospital to be by his friend’s side.
Doctors determine that Lance can’t play. His football days have quite possibly come to an end. Mox can’t believe what he’s hearing and grows even more devastated when he learns that the team’s legendary coach (Bud Kilmer played by Hollywood great, Jon Voight) has been covering up minor knee tweaks here and there by injecting Lance with cortisone shots.
Mox makes the best of the situation and takes charge of the team with Lance and his other friends by his side (Charlie Tweeder played by Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0; Billy Bob played by Ron Lester, Not Another Teen Movie; and Wendell Brown played by former Kansas City Chief, Eliel Swinton ). Varsity Blues isn’t just about football, but more about teens finding their way in spite of what they have been conditioned to do.
Varsity Blues is about as realistic as it gets when talking about high school football in West Texas, without actually claiming to be inspired by actual events: the coach’s win-at-all-costs attitude; the quarterback’s celebrity (everyone remembers the whipped cream bikini, right?); the realization that great moments are often times the most painful; and that character is built by going against the norm.
The ending can make even the toughest man cry, and this movie will forever be one of the best Friday night flicks for fall.
Next week, Friday Night Lights….
Have you seen Varsity Blues? Did your high school take football as seriously as West Canaan? What other movies remind you of your high school days? I’d love to hear from you!