Taglines: In a town where winning is everything, these guys have nothing to lose.
In small-town Texas, high school football is a religion. The head coach is deified, as long as the team is winning and 17-year-old schoolboys carry the hopes of an entire community onto the gridiron every Friday night. In his 35th year as head coach, Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) is trying to lead his West Canaan Coyotes to their 23rd division title.
When star quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) suffers an injury, the Coyotes are forced to regroup under the questionable leadership of John Moxon (James Van Der Beek), a second-string quarterback with a slightly irreverent approach to the game. “Varsity Blues” explores our obsession with sports and how teenage athletes respond to the extraordinary pressures places on them.
Varsity Blues is a 1999 American coming-of-age sports comedy-drama film directed by Brian Robbins that follows a small-town high school football team and their overbearing coach through a tumultuous season. The players must deal with the pressures of adolescence and their football-obsessed community while having their hard coach on their back constantly. In the small (fictional) town of West Canaan, Texas, football is a way of life, and losing is not an option. The film drew a domestic box office gross of $52 million against its estimated $16 million budget despite mixed critical reviews.
About the Story
Jonathan “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek) is an intelligent and academically gifted backup quarterback for the West Canaan High School football team with a heart of gold. Despite his relative popularity at school, easy friendships with other players, and smart and sassy girlfriend Jules Harbor (Amy Smart), he is dissatisfied with his life. He wants to leave Texas to go to school at Brown University.
He is constantly at odds with his football-obsessed father, Sam (Thomas F. Duffy), and dreads playing it under legendary coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight), a verbally abusive, controlling authoritarian who believes in winning “at all costs”. He has a strong track record as coach, in thirty years of coaching at West Canaan, he has won two state titles, and 22 district championships. His philosophy finally takes its toll on quarterback, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker), Mox’s best friend and Jules’ brother who has earned a full scholarship to play for Florida State.
He is manipulated into taking anesthetic shots into an injured knee that finally succumbs to failure and results in even greater injury during gameplay. He is rushed to the hospital, where doctors are appalled at the massive amount of scar tissue found under his knee. He’s out for the season and can’t play football anymore that cost him his shot FSU scholarship.
Mox, who has accompanied Lance to the hospital, is shocked when Kilmer feigns ignorance to Lance’s doctors about his knee problems, when in fact Kilmer ordered the trainer to inject the shots. In need of a new quarterback, he reluctantly names Mox to replace Lance as captain and starting quarterback. The move brings unexpected dividends for him, one of them being Darcy Sears (Ali Larter), Lance’s beautiful blonde cheerleader girlfriend, who is interested in marrying a football player in order to escape small-town life. She even goes so far as to attempt to seduce Mox, sporting a “bikini” made of whipped cream over her otherwise naked body, but he rebuffs her as gently as he can. Darcy listened what Mox said and decide to get out of West Canaan on her own without anyone help. They are in good terms and still friends.
Disgusted with Kilmer and not feeling a strong need to win, Mox starts calling his own plays on the field without Kilmer’s approval. He also chides his father, Sam, screaming at him, “I don’t want your life!” He had been a football player at West Caanan, and although Kilmer dismissed him for lacking talent and courage, he still respected and obeyed him. When Kilmer becomes aware that Mox has won a full scholarship to Brown, he threatens him that if he continues to disobey and disrespect him, he will alter his transcripts in order to reverse the decision on his scholarship.
Varsity Blues (1999)
Directed by: Brian Robbins
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Ron Lester, Scott Caan, Richard Lineback, Tiffany C. Love, Amy Smart, Brady Coleman, Mark Walters
Screenplay by: W. Peter Iliff
Production Design by: Jaymes Hinkle
Cinematography by: Chuck Cohen
Film Editing by: Ned Bastille
Costume Design by: Wendy Chuck
Set Decoration by: Tad Smalley
Art Direction by: Keith Donnelly
Music by: Mark Isham
MPAA Rating: R for strong language throughout, sexuality and nudity, and some substance abuse.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: January 15, 1999