"In America, we have laws. Laws against killing, laws against stealing. And it is just accepted that as a member of American society, you will live by these laws. In West Canaan, Texas, there is another society which has its own laws. Football is a way of life."
...So begins the 1999 feature film, Varsity Blues. As the monologue, spoken by Jonathan Moxon (James Van Der Beek; Dawson's Creek) echoes through the speakers, the viewer is transformed to the midwest where football is, in fact, king. On Friday nights most of the town can be found at the local high school game and coaches and star players are treated like Gods. Or at least that is what the film wants you to think. Considered a box office success but critical failure, the popular (due in large part to star Van Der Beek) movie, will now be available for purchase in 4K to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Moxon is the backup quarterback for the West Canaan Coyotes. He is also academically a strong student and hopes to earn an academic scholarship to Brown University. Besides living in the shadow of star Quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker; The Fast and Furious Franchise), he rarely plays because he also tends to disobey winning head coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight; Transformers). However, when Harbor gets injured due to Kilmer's negligence, "Mox" finds himself as the new Star Quarterback and the center of attention, threatened by Kilmer to lose his academic scholarship, and disobeying Kilmer any chance he can get.
Van Der Beek was at the height of his career when he made this movie as Dawson's Creek was turning into a tween/teen sensation. His popularity alone would have helped any film succeed but adding a football theme and setting the movie in the middle of the country didn't hurt. Additional cast includes a young Walker before his turn as Brian O'Conner, Ali Larter (Legally Blonde), Amy Smart (Crank), Scott Caan (Ocean's Eleven), and Voight. Together they create a solid ensemble cast.
The upgraded Video is presented in Dolby Vision giving the film a sleek and very clean look for the most part. Grainy moments are few and far between and the color pops nicely off the screen including the blue of Van Der Beek's, Walker's, and Smart's eyes. They all complement the blue varsity jackets worn by the players.
Surprisingly, the audio is only in True HD as opposed to Atmos. Nevertheless, the ambient noise, what little there is, sounds great. Crowds cheering, music playing, etc. are all layered and robust. Dialogue is crisp and clear but the tone has to wonder what it would have been like in Atmos.
The combo pack includes the 4K disc, Blu-ray Disc, and a digital download. The special features were previously released on both the original Blu-ray copy and the original DVD release. The features include: Commentary with Brian Robbins and Producers, Football is A Way of Life; The Making of Varsity Blues, Two-A-Days: The Ellis Way, QB Game Analysis, Billy Bob with No Bacon, and the Trailer.
Varsity Blues is a fun, teen movie but that is about it. The performances are good but not great. The script is okay but doesn't offer in-depth conversations and, except for the occasional, typical, inspirational speech, it merely rolls through the film without impacting the story either positively or negatively.
I suppose if you played high school football in one of those little towns in the Midwest you can relate to the characters more than I, and perhaps watching the movie over again will make you feel a little nostalgic but, even with the upgraded video and audio, you still have to take the story for what it is...whipped cream bikini and all!