Now available on 4K UHD is Brian Robbins 1999 football drama, Varsity Blues, starring James Van Der Beek, Paul Walker, Scott Caan, Amy Smart, Ali Larter, Jon Voight and a very young Jesse Plemons in one of his first acting jobs. The 90’s wat filled with numerous popular football movies. We had The Program, Any Given Sunday, Necessary Roughness, Rudy, The Waterboy, Little Giants and even football action movies like The Last Boyscout and dramas about football player’s agents in Jerry Maguire. You could host a film festival just around football movies of the decade. In 1999, MTV Productions threw their high school football film into the multiplexes and it was filled with plenty of up-and-comers.
Set in the small Texas town of West Canaan, there is nothing more important to the community than high school football. The team coach, Bud Kilmer is treated like royalty and the quarterback, Lance Harbor (Walker) is the equivalent of a rock superstar. After sustaining a knee injury on the field, which puts him in the hospital, Jonathan “Mox” Moxon takes over as the new team captain, even though Kilmer can’t stand him. Unlike the rest of the team, Mox has trouble following the plays his coach gives him. Mox’s girlfriend Jules (Smart) isn’t much of a football fan and she isn’t too keen on all the extra attention he has been receiving from the people around town. This includes Lance’s girlfriend Darcy (Larter), who sets her sights on the new football star, now that her ticket out of the small town is out of commission.
Mox’s teammate Billy Bob (Ron Lester) is clearly having some issues with his brain, which could have come from one of many blows to the head during the game. This issue prevented Billy Bob from protecting Lance from getting injured. Yet, Kilmer doesn’t care about any pain his players may be experiencing. He only cares about the win and he will let his players take on serious injury if that mean getting another trophy.
While Varsity Blues never brings anything new to the genre, it is still an enjoyable sports drama was a great cast. It does lack some of the on-field excitement that other films of its kind offer, but unlike the people of the fictional town, the filmmaker cares more about the characters than the sport.
The new 4K presentation with Dolby Vision with HDR is vast improvement over the previous Blu-ray. With the film set in a small town, the natural environments look spectacular. The green grass on the football field to the farmlands and even the drive-in restaurant that the teenagers hang out at. The night games really stand out with the strong black levels. Here we get the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which is what we had on the previous Blu-ray. While it’s not mind blowing, it delivers when needed. With the film produced by MTV, you know its going to feature a killer soundtrack. I forgot how many great sounds were featured in Varsity Blues. The bonus features included were also ported over from the Blu-ray While the only thing upgraded here is the video presentation, If you are a fan, I recommend grabbing this release.
- Commentary with director Brian Robbins and producers Tova Laiter and Mike Tollin
- Football is a Way of Life: The Making of Varsity Blues
- Two-A-Days: The Ellis Way
- QB Game Analysis
- Billy Bob with No Bacon
- Theatrical Trailer
By: Marc Ferman