A Basketball Caper That's Out of Bounds
By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 19, 1995
Fans are one thing, but Mike and Jimmy, the knucklehead heroes of the feeble
basketball comedy "Celtic Pride," are something else altogether. Written by Judd
Apatow and directed by Tom DeCerchio, "Celtic Pride" is clearly intended as a
spoof on the contemporary mania for athletics. But not only is the picture woefully
short on laughs, it's also coarse, overbearing and, in places, downright insulting.
Mike (Daniel Stern) is a former jock who couldn't make it in the NBA and has had
to settle for life as a gym teacher. But even though he's married (to "NYPD Blue's"
inestimable Gail O'Grady), Mike lives and breathes for his beloved Boston Celtics.
When Mike and his low-watt sidekick (Dan Aykroyd) walk into Boston Garden, they
look up at the championship banners hanging from the rafters and genuflect as if
they were entering St. Peter's. Furthermore, they can't understand why everyone
else isn't as passionately devoted to the team as they are. When his wife becomes
fed up with being a basketball widow, Mike can't understand what has happened.
How, he asks, have people gotten their priorities so mixed up that they value such
trivialities as job and family over the glories of sport?
The basic plot deals with a conspiracy to kidnap Lewis Stone (Damon Wayans), the
hot-dogging, ball-hogging star of the Utah Jazz, the team that's locked in a
battle with Boston for the NBA championship. The premise is anything but fresh
(the Marx Brothers used it in "Horsefeathers"), and the slipshod, junky style of
the picture makes it appear even flimsier and more dated.
Wayans has a few choice moments, especially when his character attempts to mess
with Jimmy's underinflated head. But whenever the film's energy flags, DeCerchio
simply points his camera in Stern's direction and waits for him to bug out; his
whole performance consists of throbbing temple arteries and red-faced rage. Aykroyd's
performance is less manic, less obnoxiously in-your-face, but it isn't any funnier.
Timed to coincide with the beginning of the NBA playoffs, "Celtic Pride" was clearly
designed for die-hard basketball fans. But couldn't the filmmakers have at least
attempted to capture some of the look and flavor of the game? And what are audiences
expected to make of a film that not only suggests that cheating is okay, but also
rewards its dopey protagonists?
Celtic Pride is rated R for language.
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