in the old days, i probably would have discovered a movie like turkey bowl while browsing the video stores. though it was released on dvd (and supposedly in theatres), and with video stores more or less disappeared, i found this on netflix instant. so i guess like they said, netflix and its ilk did indeed replace video stores. it’s just a lot less fun browsing on netflix than in an actual video store, with movie boxes you can actually touch. but it is fitting in this case since turkey bowl is a similarly underwhelming experience.
eight college friends have a touch football game once a year, except this time they pick up two strangers who happen to be in the park. the film has been described as taking place in real time, but there are some half time scenes and a musical montage that may disprove that theory.
there are no prologues or setups (as they are unnecessary). the film begins when the characters arrive at the field and ends when the game is over. the title refers to the prize of the game only, an actual turkey. it doesn’t take place on thanksgiving like i imagined. shot in california, one wonders why they didn’t go ahead and make it thanksgiving, instead of august. although they did acknowledge this in the movie and that is one of the few funny things in the movie.
with the 63 minute running time, turkey bowl is considered a short. it doesn’t really do anything for me. there are a few witty touches in the film but overall it still feels too long. though i can logically understand what writer/director kyle smith is trying to do, there are simply way too many characters. the lack of back story is fine by me but outside of three or four characters, there isn’t much to distinguish the ten characters apart. the premise also seems like a no-win situation. there’s the expected archetypes of different characters (the cocky guy, the nerdy guy, the winning guy, the hot girl, the older guy, the funny sidekick guy, the new girlfriend, and the strangers they picked up to be in the game just so happen to be african-american and south american) and the new and old repressed and newly formed friendship and relationship. some of the characters’ personalities overlap but that doesn’t make it automatically interesting.
and for a short film that’s about an hour long, they nevertheless put in a musical montage near the end of the football game. it doesn’t add anything to the movie as a whole and feels more like a ploy to pad the movie out to over an hour. the very last line of the movie feels like a punchline to a joke that we are not a part of.
but even though the end product doesn’t amount to much, it’s not a total bust either. it is shot in such a competent way that you always know what’s going on, which is something considering it’s smith‘s debut and most scenes involve football action. the actors are also quite likable even though they are not given much to do. the film school friends putting on a show vibe is abundant, but i’ve seen bigger names ending up with much worse. it doesn’t mean much to those of us not on the team, but turkey bowl works primarily as a calling card for all involved.
p.s. the two women in the film have longer resumes than the men in the movie: zoe perry is the daughter of laurie metcalf (jackie from rosanne); and kerry bishe has been in two ed burns movies and kevin smith’s red state.
turkey bowl is currently available on netflix instant.