Leaving the Multiplex Behind


Posted by Jonathan Sullivan on June 20, 2012


Starring: Andy Dick, Marshall Cook, Mo Collins, Alison Haislip

Written by: Andy Dick/Marshall Cook/Paul Henderson

Directed by: Marshall Cook

Distributed by: Image Entertainment

Watch Division III: Football’s Finest Instantly

Buy Division III: Football’s Finest on DVD (or Blu-ray)

Rent Division III: Football’s Finest on Amazon Instant

Once a popular comedic actor thanks to his work on NBC’s Newsradio and his excellent MTV sketch show The Andy Dick Show, Andy Dick’s personal demons and very questionable film/TV roles have all but wiped him off the face of mainstream entertainment. Division III: Football’s Finest makes the very convincing case that writing him off was a mistake because not only does Dick give his best performance in years, he does something few other comedic actors can do: he turns a subpar movie into an entertaining one based on his presence alone.

Dick stars as Rick Vice, a comically insane football coach who is brought in by a struggling liberal arts college president (Mo Collins) to turn its Division III football team around as well as bring in publicity (Vice’s antics have made him infamous in sports circles). If his new team, the Pullham University Bluecocks, doesn’t have a winning season, then the football program will be gone completely. Naturally Vice’s questionable methods of practice draws the ire of his players, especially second string quarterback Mitch DePrima (Marshall Cook, the director and co-writer) whose commitment to the game is already strained by his lack of playing time. As the season progresses, the Bluecocks struggle to win and survive the brutality of Vice’s methods while Mitch begins to find himself as a football player and as a person thanks to the help of athletic trainer/student Jennifer (Alison Haislip).

Whether Cook wanted it to be that way or not, Division III: Football’s Finest is 100% Andy Dick’s movie, picking up whenever he’s on screen and slowing down whenever he’s not. Dick attacks the part with the intensity that has been missing from him for what seems like forever, fully becoming Rick Vice and tweaking his manic comedic style just enough that what he does seems fresh rather than just a paint by numbers rehash. Everything he does is funny, from his one-liners to over the top physical attacks on his players (there’s a running gag where he continually breaks clipboards over people’s heads). Had Dick not starred and co-written the script to suit his comedic sensibilities, Division III: Football’s Finest wouldn’t be half as entertaining as it ultimately is.

That’s not to say that Division III: Football’s Finest is a bad movie whenever Coach Vice isn’t on-screen, but there is an obvious dip in quality. It becomes less entertaining and the jokes fall flat a lot more. Cook is an alright actor, but his romance with Haislip doesn’t feel all that natural, and the “sports team has got to win to stay alive” story has been done to death. The other characters as well don’t really get much to do, despite having a good cast behind it (including MADTV alums Collins, Bryan CallenDebra Wilson, and Will Sasso). They just sort of serve their purpose and either deliver an unfunny line or an ultimately pointless line of dialogue. But I’m sure football players, especially those who play or played in college, will get more out of the humor and the situations; many of the jokes seemed aimed towards them anyway.

Division III: Football’s Finest is a one man show, but what a show it ends up being; if anyone has been doubting the comedic ability of Andy Dick, you should shoot this to the top of your queue. Not only do you get to see Dick reclaim some of his self-respect after years of negative publicity, but you get to witness that rare movie when a single performance instantly elevates the entire movie. Unfortunately, the non-Andy Dick moments don’t measure up, giving the movie a deflated feeling due to the two styles clashing (Andy Dick’s craziness Vs. more subtle humor) but when combined Division III: Football’s Finest is one hell of an entertaining comedy featuring a very memorable (and quotable) character.  

Grade: C+

Watch Division III: Football’s Finest Instantly

Buy Division III: Football’s Finest on DVD (or Blu-ray)

Rent Division III: Football’s Finest on Amazon Instant


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