Review by Sean Boelman
The Turkey Bowl, co-written and directed by Greg Coolidge (Employee of the Month), is a new sports comedy arriving just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Although it is admittedly rather generic, the script has enough humor and charm and the cast is talented enough that the film is entirely watchable, and may even elicit a few laughs.
The movie follows a big city businessman who is lured back to his hometown by his high school buddies at Thanksgiving to finish an incomplete football game against their rivals. Ultimately, the film follows pretty much the same path as any other movie that involves a once talented athlete attempting to relive their glory days, but this arc is such a relatable one that it tends to work consistently.
Much of the movie’s humor is of the slapstick variety, and there are a few visual gags in the film that are very funny. The movie is at its best when it places the protagonist in an awkward situation and milks a laugh out of the audience due to secondhand embarrassment. Some of the film’s attempts at legitimate wit end up falling flat, but few viewers watching this movie will be looking for anything more than lowbrow comedy.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this film is that it is simply too long. Clocking in at right around two hours, it frequently feels like the arc could have been better conveyed in a brisk ninety minutes, particularly given the fact that the humor begins to become somewhat redundant towards the end. That said, it is the first thirty minutes that feel the most useless, as they drag out the introduction for far longer than is necessary.
Additionally, the character development in the movie is somewhat lackluster. Although the protagonist has a compelling arc, all of the supporting characters are extremely archetypal and only serve to build the protagonist. The most frustrating part of the film involves the protagonist’s fiancée, as this subplot ends up feeling like an underdeveloped afterthought.
The more interesting idea explored in the movie is that of personal identity. The main part of the protagonist’s arc involves him trying to balance his background from his rural home town with the new lifestyle he has adopted. All of the different subplots, some compelling and others too flat to add much depth, simply serve to accent this main struggle.
On a technical level, the film is mostly solid. Even though there is really only one major sports scene, that sequence is shot in a way that is surprisingly exciting and suspenseful. There aren’t really any stakes in this scene, but the cinematography, editing, and soundtrack are done in a way that creates a sense of tension during the climax.
The Turkey Bowl isn’t a particularly deep or complex movie, but as a holiday comedy, it works surprisingly well. For a lighthearted (but not-so-wholesome) flick to watch on Turkey Day, this is a solid choice.
The Turkey Bowl is now available on VOD.