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Turkey Bowl

by on July 12, 2011
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It’s not often that an indie film one-ups Hollywood heavyweights like Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, but this real-time comedy from writer/director Kyle Smith has done just that.

It seems Ferrell and Wahlberg are making a film on more or less the same topic, but Smith and company got there first.

And why not? It’s a great idea, one that men both young and not so have engaged in for years. Heck, my friends and I used to have such a tradition before we all started getting all old, married and out of shape.

“Turkey Bowl” centers on a group of friends playing their annual Thanksgiving touch football game. To the winners go a turkey. (Just who on the team gets the turkey is an annual source of contention.)

Of course, the game serves as the rallying point for the pals, becoming both a bonding experience and a vessel for airing their various neuroses and issues with each other.

There are squabbles about one of the girls bringing two new people to the game. The outsiders are black and Hispanic, and you can tell the lily-white vets are a bit intimidated, but it doesn’t take long for them to be just two of the guys.

Other arguments arise over who gets their touches, and people generally get way too serious about something as silly as a friendly game of touch football.

The acting is uniformly strong if without a real standout, but that’s in part because the cast is more or less a true ensemble with no real lead. The game’s two women are interesting because they both legitimately contribute to the proceeding and sexual tension surrounds them, but, in a sense, they’re each just one of the guys. They add a new dimension to the film than if there had been only men.

The most interesting thing about “Turkey Bowl” is simply what it is: a dialogue-driven sports film. It works for about the first 45 minutes or so, then as a one-play-then-stop-for-dialogue pattern sets in, it begins to drag in spots. With this group, there just isn’t enough to talk about, and what’s coming next turns predictable.

But still, “Turkey Bowl” is a leisurely, fun romp on the gridiron, with strong dialogue and, as a surprise, virtually no use of background music. It’s another sign of its strong, confident writing, though it comes off at times as being improvised, and I mean that as a compliment.

“Turkey Bowl” is still a worthwhile effort and one that, sports fan or not, you’re likely to find yourself interested in.