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Jerry O’Connell Is Wasted In The Deeply Unfunny “Ballbuster”

Jerry O’Connell deserved better. Frankly, anyone does than this, though O’Connell in particular is a solid actor who has thrived in raunchy comedies before. However, this marks a career low-point, if not for him (he at least still tries) than his agent for passing this script on to him. Ballbuster is one of the worst movies that I’ve seen in years, deeply unfunny, indifferently made, and downright embarrassing for its cast and crew. That anyone gave money for this to be made boggles the mind. It’s being released today, though a more apt description is that it’s escaping. Avoid it at all costs.

The flick is, supposedly, a comedy, though all evidence to the contrary. After an opening sequence showcasing how tough his father was on him, we meet star basketball player Rich Johnson (O’Connell) in his waning years. Trying to win his new team their first championship, they’re in the finals, thanks to/in spite of his ridiculous ball hogging. Disliked by almost everyone except his wife Liz (Elisabeth Röhm) and their daughter, he’s everything you’d hate about a self-centered athlete. When an incident at his kid’s youth league game goes viral, the league’s commissioner (Bobby Slayton) suspends him, only allowing him back for a potential Game Seven if he joins and tours with a charity team made up of some very unusual characters. Taking it as well as you’d expect him to, eventually Rich starts to remember the good things about the game, teammates, and family. Tom Hines directs a screenplay by Mark S. Allen and Howard Burd, with music from Ben Worley and cinematography by Dante Yore. Supporting players include Flex Alexander, Mark DeCarlo, Tyler Fleming, Christopher Michael Holley, Luenell, Mike E. Winfield, and more.

From top to bottom, this is one of the least funny films in years. Not a single joke lands. Jerry O’Connell has a few funny reactions to things, but nothing written down on the page works. Director Tom Hines films with the care of a porn director (though not those fancy expensive ones, since those at least potentially can look good), while writers Mark S. Allen and Howard Burd have never met a sophomoric joke they didn’t like (or could butcher). It all seems like a relic from the nadir of raunchy comedy days, when thinking something was dirty or gross, or if it contained nudity, was a substitute for being funny.

Ballbuster thinks it’s being cute and humorous, but oh my is it not. Outside of O’Connell’s occasionally amusing mugging (and the potentially accidental though hopefully intentional sight of him supposedly being a star basketball player), there’s nothing here, at all. Not only are the jokes terrible and the filmmaking awful, the third act turn for the lead towards redemption is done so quickly, with such little motivation, and in such a haphazard manner, you’d swear they forget to film it in the first place and raced back to do a quick re-shoot. Whether that happened or not, it sums up the look and feel of the production as well as anything else.

Starting today, Ballbuster is available to watch. Don’t watch it, but it’s available. You’d have to be a massive Jerry O’Connell fan to sit through this one, but I wouldn’t wish that on you. Just go revisit Buying the Cow for a better version of an O’Connell fronted raunchy comedy. If I see a worse film this year, I’ll be shocked. I’ll also be depressed, since this movie is the absolute pits. It’s an airball, and only if I’m being generous.

Ballbusters is out now.

(Photos courtesy of Indican Pictures)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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