Sports movie fans have another film to add to the list with Home Team, directed by Charles and Daniel Kinnane. The film was the second most watched movie on Netflix for the week of January 28th. Despite some weak points, this true story adaptation has its moments.
Home Team follows the tale of NFL head coach Sean Payton’s suspension and the relationship he builds with his son while coaching his youth football team, the Warriors.
The movie starts off in Super Bowl 44 where the Colts played the Saints at Hard Rock Stadium in Florida. The movie smoothly ties together footage of the actual Super Bowl and shots recorded in the film in this opening scene. It feels a bit nostalgic for those who have seen Super Bowl 44. Shots of coach Sean Payton and the rest of the Saints on the sidelines are shown as both suspense and excitement is seamlessly welded into the scene.
There are not really any distinguishable cuts between real NFL footage and movie footage until you see Kevin James instead of Sean Payton; generally, the editing looks extremely realistic and believable. Even during the Lombardi Trophy presentation (where the commissioner presents the trophy to the winning team), you can see the stadium, confetti, fans, players, staff, and coaches running onto the field like someone actually won the Super Bowl, which adds a subtle layer to the immersion.
However, the movie falls into a comedy pitfall by including the stereotypical caricatures of Assistant Coach Mitch Bizone, an overweight man who is incompetent at his job, and Jamie, the husband of Payton’s ex-wife. Their purpose is to be a laughingstock to the kids on the team and the viewer, but these attempts failed to translate into real hilarity and sometimes resulted in viewer discomfort. This includes one scene where every player ferociously vomits on the field because of something Jamie gave them. This was extremely unnecessary and added nothing to the plot while simultaneously upsetting any in the audience faint of stomach. These overt attempts at comedy would have been better removed or modified for these characters to play less stereotypical roles.
The movie clearly does its best work tying together both history and filmmaking. Payton is suspended from the NFL for one year for paying his players to injure opponents players during games, which is referred to as the bountygate scandal today. The film seamlessly puts together fake media clips, real media clips, and Kevin James’s acting to not only emphasize the seriousness of the situation, but portray what might have been Payton’s real reaction. Payton’s next mission is to coach his son’s youth football team, the Warriors.
After the Warriors lose, Payton tries to rekindle the relationship with Connor, but his son shrugs Payton off. This set the development of their relationship into motion, and led the audience to wonder how it would grow. The way the movie portrays Payton’s actions with other characters does a great job of characterizing him. He stays patient with the kids on the team and the parents of the kids, and does not take no for an answer.
Throughout the movie, Payton had a “win at all costs” mentality and grows by learning that youth football is about letting everyone play and having fun. This provides some heartwarming moments leading up to a monumental final game, which disappoints by lacking some believability. Players switched positions and became immediate defensive superstars after playing offense the whole season, while other players were impossible to tackle. The game was painful to watch since the abrupt change in position breaks audience immersion.
Overall, the movie could be made better by cutting bad jokes, bad characters, and unnecessary scenes. However, the film makes up for it with great editing and cinematography to tell the story of Sean Payton.
For those who like Kevin James or other true sports stories such as Moneyball, The Blind Side, or Concussion, this movie will be a fun watch. Additionally, the lighthearted tone and PG rating makes this perfect for viewers under 13.