Blackball Release Date: 5 September 2003 (UK) Genre: Comedy | Drama | Sport Director(s): Mel Smith (Bean, High Heels and Low Lifes) Writer(s): Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) Starring: Paul Kaye, Vince Vaughn, James Cromwell Friendly, kindhearted, and talented young man shows his prowess at a skill. An agent decides to make him into a star. […]

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Blackball
Release Date: 5 September 2003 (UK)
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Sport
Director(s): Mel Smith (Bean, High Heels and Low Lifes)
Writer(s): Tim Firth (Calendar Girls)
Starring: Paul Kaye, Vince Vaughn, James Cromwell

Friendly, kindhearted, and talented young man shows his prowess at a skill. An agent decides to make him into a star. Friendly, kindhearted, and talented young man becomes a cocky jerk. Soon enough, he rejoins his friends and triumphantly claims victory to close the film.

Yep, it’s one of those films.

But whatever, I had fun. National Lampoon’s Blackball, which was produced for a theatrical release in the U.K. before having the National Lampoon name leased for its U.S. release, is about a game that few of you have probably heard of. I certainly hadn’t. That is lawn bowls, which is kind of like cricket with a bowling touch.

Usually played by snooty upperclassmen in European countries, Blackball sees a bowls industry with nothing going for it. Having lost their slot on BBC Sports, a tournament is held to determine who is to face the current champion. To the surprise of all, the charismatic Cliff Starkey (Kaye) shows up. Dancing around the field and poking jokes, Starkey becomes champion, only to be stripped of the championship when it’s found out that he defaced a scorecard by referring to the now former champion as a ‘tosser.’

Starkey believes his career in bowls is over after being handed a fifteen-year ban by the elitist organization. American agent Rick Schwartz (Vaughn) has a different plan. Regardless if Starkey is allowed to play in the organized league, he plans to make Starkey a star. He wants to take bowls from a game to a sport, and so does Starkey. Of course, when Starkey does become a star, simply avert your eyes upward to see what does occur.

The enjoyment I derived from Blackball did not come so much from the writing as it did the acting. The writing is hackneyed. It’s the performances by the three leads that props this up above the norm. Paul Kaye, Vince Vaughn, and James Cromwell are fantastic. Vaughn especially appears to be having fun, as he’s at his best playing the cocky asshole character.
Of a one hundred minute film, I enjoyed the first 45 minutes (pre-cocky jerk), and the last fifteen (post-cocky jerk). That makes it worthy of a solid 6.

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Blackball, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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