Varsity Blues | Chicago Reader

Varsity Blues

The main character in this football-centered tale bemoans his own habit of doing the right thing even as he agonizes over the behavior of other people—his pushy parents, his high school team's maniacal coach (Jon Voight), his rival's fickle girlfriend. But despite loads of voice-over, Mox (James Van Der Beek) doesn't seem self-aware enough to have a conscience—which is perfectly consistent with the movie's morality. Its depiction of teenage behavior appears calculated to seem irreverent while satisfying expectations, as when the team rowdy boasts about how easy it is to get girls to have sex. Both exaggerating and undercutting the character's stereotypical machismo, the script calls for him to add that the girls have to be on a specific combination of drugs and alcohol—which allows the filmmakers to flaunt their freedom to pass along the prescription. Consistently pandering to anyone who'll mistake self-reference for irony, this vehicle for Van Der Beek, star of the TV series Dawson's Creek, includes a scene set in a classroom where an assignment written conspicuously on the chalkboard promises students extra credit for essays about “how your health and sexual attitude are affected by television.” Brian Robbins directed a screenplay by W. Peter Iliff.

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