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'Celtic Pride': No Joy

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 19, 1995

There is some enjoyment to be had from the comedy "Celtic Pride," although it probably helps if you're an obsessive, superstitious sports fan—or know someone who is.

Mike O'Hara (Daniel Stern) and Jimmy Flaherty (Dan Aykroyd) have been Boston Celtics fanatics since childhood. The days of superstars Bird and McHale may be over, but these guys never miss a game. Nor do they ever miss an opportunity to perform whatever superstitious rituals occur to them. They might switch seats in the middle of a game or make an entire section of Celtics fans step into the aisles until the tide has turned in Boston's favor.

Their strange devotion has paid off: The Celtics are in the NBA Finals, a best-of-seven series, for the first time since the 1980s. But their opponents are the Utah Jazz, whose arrogant star, Lewis Scott (Damon Wayans), poses a distinct threat to the fans' hopes. This threat turns into reality in Game 6 when Scott snatches victory away from Boston's clutches. With both teams now tied with three games each, the fate of the world is down to the final game—in Boston.

A mischievous opportunity presents itself when Mike and Jimmy get word that Scott is celebrating the Utah victory at a local watering hole. Outraged, the fans rush to the bar where they hatch a goofy plan: pretend they're die-hard Jazz fans, get Scott drunk and waste him for the next game.

They're very successful. After a hard night of drinking, the inebriated party of three staggers drunkenly to Jimmy's apartment and crashes. Next morning, Mike and Jimmy decide to truss up the sleeping player and hold him until Game 7 is over. And suddenly, they're in a situation that looks a lot like kidnapping.

"Is this backlash from the O.J. Simpson trial?" asks Scott when he realizes what's going on.

Wayans is amusing as an angry, insulting hostage; and Stern and Aykroyd make perfectly desperate losers. But the movie, written by Judd Apatow (whose previous, amusing work on "The Larry Sanders Show" is not in evidence here), loses its drive right about here. Stern's family life, in which his sports-widow (Gail O'Grady) wants him to be a good family man, is just formulaic filler. The outcome is deeply unsatisfying. And there's a rather unpalatable message that crime really does pay, and that irresponsible, woman-hopping egomaniac sports figures do finish first. This isn't basketball, it's more like a series of unnecessary timeouts, ending with the creative equivalent of an air ball.

CELTIC PRIDE (PG-13) — Contains profanity and minor violence.

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