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Touchstone Home Video presents
Varsity Blues (1999)

"The only way we're going back out on that field is without you."
- Moxon (James Van Der Beek)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: April 28, 2000

Stars: James Van Der Beek
Other Stars: Jon Voight
Director: Brian Robbins

MPAA Rating: R for strong language throughout, sexuality and nudity, and some substance abuse.
Run Time: 01h:44m:00s
Release Date: June 29, 1999
UPC: 097363364375
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Varsity Blues is an MTV film, and it shows. There is nothing new here; simply cookie cutter characters molded from such movies as The Program and Porky's. This movie also seems confused in its morality. Jonathan Moxon (James Van Der Beek) is the second string quarterback for a perennial Texas high school district powerhouse, who is thrust into the limelight when the starting QB is felled by an injury caused by playing via the use of painkillers. This group of cussing, drinking, partying, ne'er-do-wells is coached by the ruthless, bigoted and tyrannical Bud Kilmer, another wonderful portrayal by John Voight, who seems to be making hay these days by playing really nasty guys.

Now, even though I'll grant you there are bad coaches—and this is one of them—I still have to argue with the message that this movie so casually transmits: that if you don't like the coach or his tactics it's okay not to listen to him/her. Okay, so I may be biased (since I coach basketball myself), but I can tell you that kids have little enough respect for their coaches as it is. But the true irony lies in the fact that the moral trying to be put forth is that you don't have to be the winning starting quarterback to be a hero.

By far, the best part of this film are the excellently choreographed football sequences (why did that sentence feel blasphemous?!) There were moments when I felt the pain of a crushing blow.

The main premise of the film is that in Texas football is more important than life. Unfortunately, the way it goes about making its point alternates between funny and vacuous, charming and pathetic, while the rest of the story precludes any suspension of disbelief and cinematically is more like wringing out a wetted Porky's sponge.

Release date: June 9, 1999

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although this is generally a nice print and an anamorphic (16:9) 1.85:1 original theatrical aspect ratio widescreen transfer by Paramount, there is a fair amount of both softness and aliasing distortion present throughout the film. However, the color rendering is rich and nicely saturated, particularly in the stripclub and whipped cream bikini sequences (just kidding!).

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There are both Dolby Surround 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks on this disc, the latter of which is very nicely staged, particularly during the football sequences, most of which you feel as if you are in the middle of the action. There is nice ambient surround staging, especially given game crowd situations. The dialogue is well rendered across the forward soundstage and generally easy to understand, particularly during the scene in sex education class (all right, kidding again!).

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only "supplements" presented are a French language track and original theatrical trailer. Well, the world needs its ditch diggers, too.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

This is not the worst movie of the year or decade, but it certainly won't be pulling demographics much over thirty-five. Certainly there is something to be said for this exercise in typical American teenager testosterone squeegeeing as superficial, mindless Sunday afternoon entertainment (but not during football season!), but withstanding the fact that I rented this for my begging brand-spanking-new teenager (okay, big mistake: nudity, sex, adult content!). I would much more prefer a vehicle a little more than a front for a best-selling soundtrack and a little less predictable than a President Clinton lie detector test.


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