"Clearly you don't need a billion dollar budget to deliver a lot of laughs."
"Second place is first place for losers" reads the tagline on the poster. We see the back of a figure and there are paint splatters all over the place. I'd left my festival guide back at the hotel, so I was going in to this movie, as they say, "totally blind". Turns out that 'Blackballed' was a comedy...and a really damn funny one to boot!Bobby Dukes was the king of the paintball courts. He was fast, he was ruthless, he was unbeatable. And then one day Bobby got popped with a lucky paintball...and he wiped! Yes, seriously! The most celebrated competitor in all of paintball...cheated! Immediately loathed and laden with shame, Bobby quits paintball and sets out on a decade-long search for re-discovery.
It's after Bobby's self-imposed banishment that he returns to his little backwater town...with redemption on his mind! After realizing that none of his former teammates want anything to do with his return to paintball, the disgraced Bobby D. takes to enlisting an entirely new squad. Basically he grabs a sweet-natured nerd, a bellicose brawler, an aging hippie, a video game addict...and his little sister for backup.
Blackballed is as much a spoof of sports movies as it is a scrappy little sports movie itself. What begins as a broad and rustic little farce about over-exuberant goofballs shooting paint at each other somehow turns into a rah-rah sports comedy that had at least one festival audience cheering at the last-minute heroics. OK, so maybe it isn't Major League, but hey...laughs are laughs.
And Blackballed delivers the laughs with a consistency that belies its no-frills presentation and 'never heard of 'em' filmmakers. It's a good thing that clever ideas and crisp comedic timing don't cost a lot of money, because a movie like Blackballed probably couldn't afford 'em. But director Brant Sersen snagged himself a collection of truly funny performers and wrote them some surprisingly amusing material. Clearly there was a whole lot of improvising going on (which result in some of the movie's best bits), but comedy material that comes off this 'effortless' is usually the result of sincerely hard work. (You try heading off into the woods with 5 friends and a case of beer, intent on making a funny movie. Bet you can't.)'Blackballed' won the Audience Award at the 2004 SXSW Film Festival, which means a whole lot of hardcore movie fans saw something they really liked. For the price of one hour's catering on your average Hollywood comedy, 'Blackballed' delivers probably three times the laughs.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston. For more in the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.