Blackball, much in the vein of our own Crackerjack, walks the tired, well-worn path of insertion of a ‘young person with a bad attitude and worse behaviour’ into the hallowed halls of the local bowls club, and expects this will in itself be hilarious. It’s not.
In some films the clash of cultures being attempted here is funny. In others it struggles to raise even a smile – unfortunately this is the case with Blackball. Usually the difference lies in the lead character, and the empathy we feel for them as they struggle to fit in. In Blackball, I felt nothing for Paul Kaye’s Cliff ‘Bad Boy’ Starkey, so little in fact that I couldn’t ride the highs and lows with him on the way to his inevitable success.
The problem may have been Paul Kaye himself. He presents an almost repulsive persona, someone I couldn’t enjoy watching. His interactions with his mates, and his girl, are obnoxious, leaving me unable to be glad he ‘came to his senses’ after his brush with fame, as I wasn’t sure he had ever been a good person to start with.
I wasn’t sure what James Cromwell was doing in Blackball – he spent much time being sour and grumpy, with nary a sign of life. His eventual conversion into someone who could accept Starkey is therefore unbelievable, as there wasn’t any sign he had the capability to change from the beginning.
Vince Vaughn plays the bad guy so well, I can’t recall the last time he succeeded playing a ‘good guy’. Once again, he is one of the few positives in Blackball. His American agent is so stereotyped, but moderately successful at least, which is far higher praise than I can give the other characters.
The plot struggles, the direction is limp, and Blackball just fails on so many levels. It does, occasionally raise a smile, but these moments are so few and far between, I can’t in all honesty rate this higher than 1 star.Rating: