90s rated: 2.5/5
2017 rated: 3.5/5
So my initial interest in this film drew from information I had gathered that this is one of Rodney Dangerfield’s best films, the others being Easy Money and Back to School. But when the film got going, all of a sudden I found another reason to get into it. This film also has the kid who played “Stuttering” Bill in the 1990 It miniseries, Jonathan Brandis. I kept waiting for this kid to stutter, but unfortunately he never did (except for maybe one brief moment in one scene, but that doesn’t count).
Anyway, this movie is a bit bizarre. It seems like it should be a kid flick. It’s constructed like one. Has plot developments like one. Has that 90s kid stuff that makes it seem like one. But it ends up being as much of a kid flick as Game of Thrones is a porno. Sure the latter has some nudity and sex scenes, but that hardly qualifies, even during the first 2 seasons. As for this film, oh man, the dialogue and content are way out there.
Where to start? Oh let’s just start with the fucking swearing. There weren’t any fuck-bombs dropped, but they sure let loose with everything else. Asshole, son of a bitch, blind bastard, a girl soccer team called the beavers, bullshit, shit, and bitch are all words uttered at one point or another during the film’s runtime. I mean, I guess I could’ve taken a hint early on by seeing that the film was rated PG-13, but why look at the rating when the poster looks so family friendly?
Now if I was watching this in 1992 (or during the 90s in general), I wouldn’t have thought much else about it. Yeah it had Rodney doing his one-liners (most of which are definitely PG-13 rated), but it also has typical 90s kid hi-jinks and some painful attempts at comedy. If you’ve seen enough 90s films aimed at being comedies, especially the kid ones, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The sort of stuff that if you’re kid talked into seeing today, you would be thinking, “Christ, why didn’t I get an abortion?” It would be one of those films you wouldn’t think to much of after seeing it.
However, this isn’t the 90s anymore. Today’s cultural climate is different (for the worse) compared to that of the 90s. Stuff that was typical and moderate back then is considered far too extreme and offensive today. That isn’t a good thing under almost every circumstance I can think of, but one way in which it is a good thing is that it got me to enjoy this movie more. Back then, it was just a so-so comedy elevated by Rodney Dangerfield’s presence and dialogue with a couple decent morals, marred by some painful attempts at comedy (not all attempts are painful, but there’s enough to make you hurt). By today’s standards, this is one of the most politically incorrect sexist racist perverted stereotypical homophobic films ever made. Not to mention Rodney Dangerfield plays the dirty creepy old man angle so well it would make the Japanese proud. It turned me into one happy masochist. I tolerated the painful moments just to be showered in the anti-PC nature of this film. How the changing of times can make one appreciate things of the past.
Anyway, the plot of the film. Rodney Dangerfield plays the main protagonist who works for a company that he wants a promotion at. And he’s not the most pleasant fellow around, he’s a womanizer, and spouts one-liners that put everyone down, of all ages, genders, and races. And that’s part of his charm, because I’m not going to lie, as despicable and politically incorrect the jokes he makes are, that’s what makes them so funny. Like much of the stand-up humor back then, the jokes were so shockingly outrageous and offensive you just had to laugh at them. But in any case, he’s despicable, and is willing to stoop to despicable levels to get his promotion. So he winds up coaching a girl’s soccer team in the hopes of getting them to win the season. And he knows jack-shit about soccer, much less how to coach a soccer team. And as to be expected, the team sucks. They play like shit and couldn’t win a game to save their lives.
It’s at this point you would be able to guess correctly exactly how this film is going to go from here. The team is going to learn to overcome their differences/obstacles/lack of talent, they’re going to get better, and they’re eventually going to come out triumphant. And that does happen, but it’s how it gets there that makes it interesting. Rather than Rodney mustering up the willpower to read the Soccer rulebook (which his black assistant played by Jackée Harry is at least willing to do, even if I’m pretty sure she doesn’t finish it), or do better coaching, he decides to take his stepson, who is a talented athlete but has issues with authority, to dress up as a girl and join the team and get them to win more often. Let the tranny and sexist jokes fly (let alone the pedophilia)!
Oh yeah, this film got fun real fast. It makes bearing through the “90s painful humor” bits worth it for all that gets unleashed.
Oh and don’t worry. There’s room for racism too. Like this discussion between Rodney and Jackee have about sports:
“You know that black people are the best at sports, c’mon! We’re the best runners, the fastest runners, the best at track. We’re the best at baseball, the best at boxing, the best at basketball, football. Hey, you name it! ”
“Eeesh, black people are best at sports. Are you kidding? How about hockey? And waterpolo? Fencing! Best at sports… hey, badminton! Yachting! Best at sports… Oh, I forgot fox hunting! Best in sports…”
And this other moment when their Asian goalie blocks several ball shots, and Rodney says something along the lines of, “She’s become the Great Wall of China!”
I love this film, in all of its anti-PC glory as much as I hate political correctness with all of my little black fucking heart. The film and Rodney let these jokes fly not giving a single flying fuck about who (or what) it would offend. Even to the very end (even if the last joke is really stupid), do these jokes continue.
But anyway, back to a more serious note (yeah right), Jonathin Brandis disguises himself as a girl named Martha at the behest of Rodney so that he can teach the game to get better. However, because the stepson is a selfish prick, he’s all about himself during the game. Playing on his own, scoring on his own, leaving the rest of the team in the dust and getting pissed at them when they’re not playing on the same level as him. Basically acting the same way he would when playing with the guys. On top of that, he rarely puts forth the effort to disguise his voice as a feminine voice, and often still yells around like a dude. But eventually, he learns to be less selfish, starts teaching the other girls how to play better and function as a team, and by the end they are able to play fine and win games even without his help. In fact, the final game of the film is played entirely without him. Have to admit, for such an immoral film, it actually has some decent moral lessons in it. It’s all brought to light with an inspiring speech by Rodney near the end:
“You don’t need a boy to help you win! You’re women! You don’t need anyone! You’re liberated! You got the vote! You can burn your bras! When you get them!”
Plus he even learns to value those around him rather than his promotion in another fairly decent speech.
“The best, the best. That’s all I keep hearing. You want to be the best. Let me ask you this, what good is being the best if it brings out the worst in you?”
Granted, the last moment of the film pretty much pisses on all of those good morals for the sake of a cheap laugh; but hey, at least they’re there.
But anyway, going outside the box for a moment, this also reminds me of other issues today. Of guys not only disguising themselves as women, but identifying as a woman, on and off the field. Like that transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and an actual transgender soccer player Miranda Salman, among other cases. Plus the 2018 Olympics should be interesting since they’ll freely allow transgenders to participate in whichever gender section they feel like, regardless of how they were born. The point is, as this film shows, and as other real-life cases have shown, men tend to be better than women at sports. Sorry ladies, but it’s a fact. You can wipe the floor with us at college studies and the mental games, but we tend to be dominant when it comes to physical sports. It’s just not fair (and biology proves this) for people born as men to compete in a women’s sports division. It’s unfair to the other (naturally born) women. Most women aren’t like Chyna damnit!
That being said, this isn’t the only soccer film to do this concept, and it pretty much fires back against that last paragraph you just read. Over 10 years later, and a similar plot would be used in another movie, but with the gender roles reversed.
Now, by the end of Ladybugs, I was reminded of She’s the Man. I remember watching it many years ago, remember thinking it was a so-so film, and didn’t think anything of it afterwards. But now that I’ve seen Ladybugs and have been reminded of this film again, and have seen some of the comments made about this film in more recent years, comments long the lines of, “This movie invented [modern] feminism.” In this movie, a girl decides she wants to play soccer in the men’s division at college, and so dresses up as a guy to fool everyone. And it pretty much goes the same as in Ladybugs, a soccer ball to the crotch joke, a love interest, everything working out in the end. So I rewatched it, and determined that there wasn’t enough material there for a big review. Like Ladybugs, it also has annoying humor. And the first 15-20 minutes is fucking agonizing in that film, it made me question my tastes in films a decade ago. Then some familiar faces start to show up. Like, “Hey, that’s Vinnie Jones! Hey look, a young Channing Tatum! Hey look, that Jewish guy who shows up in films like this!” The humor in the film is nowhere near as great or memorable as in Ladybugs, but there’s enough there to keep the movie going once it gets past the first 20 minutes; and then I was reminded of why I didn’t think it was all that bad back then. I mean, it does have a moment where, when they discover the protagonist is carrying tampons (while she’s playing a dude), she uses the excuse that she shoves them up her nose when she gets nosebleeds, and Channing Tatum takes the advice later on. There’s also a scene in a pizza restaurant that worked better than I thought it would. And the flashing at the soccer game. But then there’s the fact that the protagonist falls for Channing Tatum rather than that hot chick who was into her. Come on, they were a better fit for each other. Let the girls kiss each other damnit!
Other than that, it does have a couple characters who pretty much say what I stated earlier about men being superior to women in sports, only a lot more assholish about it. Because, you know, yay feminism! Even so, I kinda wonder if even this film would be made today with dialogue like this:
“Listen, I know I should have told you who I was, but I was afraid. I’m sorry.”
“Well, you know maybe if I had known you were a girl, we wouldn’t have talked like we did, and got to know each other the same way. And that would’ve been a shame.”
“Just so you know, everything you told me when I was a guy, just made me like you so much more as a girl.”
“Ok, but just from here on in, everything would just be alot easier if you stayed a girl.”
Then again, there is dialogue like this:
“Just remember, inside every girl, there’s a boy. That came out wrong but you know what I mean.”
So, back to Ladybugs, some of you outraged fellows may be wondering how it is I could enjoy such tripe as Ladybugs, wondering why it is I haven’t moved on the the immature and intolerable 90s era. I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’m sick and tired of the safely manufactured and sterilized humor of today. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against safety PC humor in of itself, but only so long as the unsafe homophobic transphobic non-white-phobic humor is still around in other films, which they’re not, nowhere near the extent of stuff like this. “But isn’t that a good thing, like moving on from The Birth of a Nation films and such?” No, it isn’t, and here’s why. Today it’s considered ok (ie open season) to make fun of straight white people. Today it’s not considered ok to make fun of anyone or anything else (just ask Milo Yiannopoulos). Worse yet, it’s become taboo, to the point where it can’t even be discussed with people why it should or shouldn’t be ok to use this type of raunchy humor. And lest we forget, that’s all it is, humor. It’s not meant to start a gender/race war with anyone, it’s made for laughs (cheap or otherwise).
“But these jokes put those people down as being inferior.”
All jokes do that! Every funny joke is done at the expense of either some individual or some group of people! And I’m not biased, I love seeing jokes made at my expense, at white people’s expense, and at straight people’s expense (let alone at the pervert’s expense). But I want to see jokes fly everywhere at everyone. In fact, I think it should be mandatory for everyone to be made fun of at some point in time. It makes them learn how to deal with insults and such (and if they’re quick-witted, they may learn to deal a few of them back), and they learn how to toughen up and not let it get to them. Or maybe it does get to them and they end up committing suicide. Didn’t say there weren’t cons, but the pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned, because the alternative is a lot fucking worse as I’ve seen.
“But they should never be put down!”
Says who and by what authority and what logical reasoning? Let me provide some insight into what some legends of the profession have to say about this (not George Carlin, I’ve used him enough for now):
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Brooks stated: “We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy.”
“It’s not good for comedy,” he added. “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”
PS: Honestly, I wasn’t planning on ending this on a rant about the current state of comedy. But sometimes, that’s just the way things go.
PPS: Oh, right. She’s the Man. Rated: 3/5