Dukes = Hazard

Jonathan Adams rented the DVD Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story and took one right where it hurts.

I’m glad there’s such a thing as homeostasis. Otherwise I would have had nothing to do during BLACKBALLED: THE BOBBY DUKES STORY, released on DVD last week. And then my time would have been completely (in the completest sense of the word) wasted. That is the kindest thing I can say about this movie.

Rob Corddry (of The Daily Show) stars here as Bobby Dukes, a once invincible paintball champion who disgraced himself in the 1993 Hudson Valley Paintball Classic by “wiping”—that is, attempting to disguise the fact that he has been hit by an opponent. This incident resulted in Bobby’s being expelled from the sport for a period of ten years, which he spent traveling the world, reflecting on his poor sportsmanship, and cavorting with primitive African tribes.

Now it’s 2003, however, all that is behind him, and Bobby has finally returned to his hometown in the hope of assembling a team for entry in the 2003 Hudson Valley Paintball Classic. Bobby must prostrate himself before his former teammates, all of whom take the sport of paintball far too seriously to forgive him yet. Thus shunned by all his old friends, what kind of a crew will Bobby come up with? If you guessed a “motley” one, you’re spot on!

I should confess to having a distaste for this whole “mockumentary” genre. Like Christopher Guest’s movies in the same tradition (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND), BLACKBALLED relies heavily on its actors’ improvisational skills. And in fact, the cast is composed almost entirely of former members of the popular New York improv comedy troupe Respecto Montalban.

The problem I have with such movies is the presumption they all seem to operate under that “real life” people are fundamentally stupid, un-self-aware braggarts and losers. Populating a movie entirely with such condescending caricatures makes for tiresome comedy.

Then again, you might enjoy this movie if you are amused by any of the following: a rapping paintball team from PEI who chant “Booyaka, Booyaka” to get themselves stoked before each match; a very subtle double entendre in the word “wipe”; a lot of people who take paintball seriously enough to yell things like “I am a god!” in the midst of their matches. Also, if there is something inherently funny about the name “Bobby Dukes”, it is lost on me—but the people in this movie seem to delight in addressing the main character always by his full name.

Normally after hating a movie as much as I hated BLACKBALLED, I would never consider watching any of the DVD extras. I thought I ought to this time in the interest of completeness, since I am reviewing the damned thing after all. As might have been expected, the extras were more interesting than anything in the actual feature–their chief advantage is perhaps their brevity. Where Corddry seemed to have been held back throughout the feature, he is given free reign in “Bobby Dukes’ Video Diary” in which we learn more of Bobby’s travels—most interestingly that he composed politically-charged (if formally imperfect) haiku such as this one:

Fuck you, Gorilla.
Can I borrow your rain forest?
My car’s out of gas.

This is not to be construed as a recommendation, however! If you just rented BLACKBALLED before happening upon this review, go ahead and watch the extras. But don’t go out and rent the movie on the basis of that haiku. You will hate me, I promise.

– Jonathan Adams