Sean Payton deserves better

Sean Payton talks to his team Startpage

Happy Madison production pokes fun at Sean Payton’s involvement in bountygate

When New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced his retirement, the NFL community celebrated him as one of the league’s finest coaches and the most successful coach in the Saints’ franchise history. However, many people forget his involvement in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, also known as “bountygate,” where his players gained incentives and pay increases for intentionally hurting other players. Everyone was reminded of this controversial issue when actor Kevin James’ new movie “Home Team” was released on Netflix on Jan. 28.

“Home Team” is a sports-comedy, slapstick film directed by Charles and Daniel Kinnane. The film stars Kevin James as Sean Payton, who receives a one-year suspension for his role in the controversial bountygate scandal, Payton then decides to return home to Argyle, Texas to try and reconnect with his 12-year-old son, Connor, played by Tait Blum. Upon arriving and discovering that his son’s Pee Wee football team, the Warriors, is the worst in the league, Payton can’t contain his urge to get involved and decides to coach the team to initially bond with his son, but surprise surprise, Payton takes things way too far.

Like in any other sports movie, the plot of this movie is extremely derivative. “Home Team” follows the same storylines from movies such as “Bad News Bears,” “Friday Night Lights” and “We Are Marshall.” The worst team in the league makes a slight change and now become thriving underdogs with a chance to win a championship. In one of the most unoriginal and predictable stories ever, the only thing the audience is left guessing is whether the Warriors win or lose, but even that wasn’t a surprise.

After getting embarrassed by the Porcupines—yeah, the Porcupines—, Payton then ignited his professional football instincts and began to treat a bunch of 12-year-olds like professional athletes. After getting chewed out by his son, the audience can predict what happens next.  Payton then changes his morals and begins to play the kids who have far less talent. Shockingly, the team still has a chance to win, but the Warriors kicker misses the field goal and hits the scoreboard. What happens next is a spectacle of exploding lights from the scoreboard with the song “We Are Young” by the band fun, playing in the background.  This ending was a futile effort to try and compensate for a lackluster plot.

As mentioned earlier, “Home Team” follows the same trends as “Friday Night Lights” and “Bad News Bears.” However, the biggest difference is that those movies are well directed, well written and well acted. “Home Team” has none of those, instead it has a lot of lazy writing, uninspiring direction and the type of acting where the actors are playing versions of themselves instead of portraying characters. Billed as a comedy movie, the film has more cringe-worthy moments than funny moments and instead relies on crude humor, such as vomiting onto other people, instead of clever comedy writing.

When the head coach of the Porcupines is introduced as the film’s villain, it seemed more like a plot device instead of making an actual character. Instead of focusing on the flaws on both coaches from both teams, the film remains one-dimensional and doesn’t expand on why the other head coach is just as competitive as Payton. Even after the Porcupines won, Payton goes to congratulate the opposing coach but is not congratulated back and instead the Porcupines coach leaves the scene and the movie.

Casting James as Payton seems like a helpless attempt to revive his career. James is friends with Adam Sandler, who runs the film’s production company “Happy Madison Productions.” While James’ name is big enough to get people to watch this movie, his acting abilities are far from sufficient enough to save the film from its poor writing.

“Home Team” does nothing to add a new level to making a good sports movie. If anything, it lowers the bar so well it makes terrible sports comedies such as “Kicking & Screaming” seem like Oscar worthy films. The best way to describe this movie is a lazy re-telling of sports films from the past.