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Varsity Blues (1999)



Average Rating: 5/10
Reviews Counted: 53
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 32

This is a predictable football movie that lacks intensity.


Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 8

This is a predictable football movie that lacks intensity.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 122,259

My Rating

Movie Info

In his 35th year as head coach, Bud Kilmer is trying to lead his West Canaan Coyotes to their 23rd division title. Uncompromising and omnipotent, Kilmer is deified in the small Texas town, as long as the team is winning. But when star quarterback Lance Harbor suffers a season-ending injury, the Coyotes are forced to regroup under the questionable leadership of second-string quarterback Jonathan Moxon. His irreverent attitude and approach to football come into direct conflict with the coach's



W. Peter Iliff

May 31, 1999

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (73) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (32) | DVD (10)

Slickly enjoyable!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Varsity Blues eventually fizzles out badly!

January 1, 2000
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The football scenes are involving, the acting is up to snuff, and there is something about those last days of high school that remains a solid background for even the most familiar of stories.

January 1, 2000
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scenes work, but they don't pile up and build momentum.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tired, corn-fed storyline and generic, plug-and-play direction!

January 1, 2000
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...slick, well made, and well acted, but it takes no chances. Seems a wasted opportunity.

September 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

...someone could make a very interesting, nuanced film about the exalted place that high school football holds in some parts of Texas... this isn't that film.

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Comment (1)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Van Der Beek and Voight weigh in with convincing performances .

August 16, 2002 Full Review
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

A serviceable 1990s teen flick.

August 2, 2002
Arizona Daily Star

Depicts just how difficult it is to stay true to yourself and your dreams when the call of celebrity comes knocking at your door.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

In addition to the fulfillment of endless high school male fantasies, it also recycles every football and sports movie cliché known to man

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

An utterly formulaic teen sports, sex and suds potboiler!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: NUVO Newsweekly
NUVO Newsweekly

cheap zirconium garbage

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Nitrate Online
Nitrate Online

The movie panders to its teen audience with typical crudeness and excessively lewd behavior.

January 1, 2000
Charlotte Observer

Hasn't an original bone in its rib-crushing body!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Compuserve

Although there are signs of more intelligence lurking about, they're so obscured by the inane sophomoric material that few will recognize they even exist.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Screen It!
Screen It!

I was never exactly bored while I was watching it, but I hasten to add that I was rarely ever entertained.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Anyone who misses the heyday of the afterschool special will certainly enjoy this banal tale of self-fulfillment, juiced up with enough alcohol and sleaze to earn an R rating.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:


January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Scott Renshaw's Screening Room
Scott Renshaw's Screening Room

Audience Reviews for Varsity Blues

It may take a while to win you over, due to it's odd tonal shifts and it may be a little predictable, but every sports film has their predictability aspect to them, and I believe that "Varsity Blues" takes advantage of that in the right way. After the quarterback (Paul Walker) is injured, the second string must take over for the rest of the season to lead the team to victory. Sure it's an old tale in the world of sports, but when you have a likeable cast of characters, a fun script, and a soundtrack that will make you smile, there is not too much to complain about. What the film does lack is originality and the cheesy score did not help either, but hey that's the 90's for you. Make of this film what you will, because it will be deemed fun for some and bad for others. On my end of the spectrum, I had a blast watching it, there are some odd filmmaking techniques used, but it all comes down to the overall experience. "Varsity Blues" is a solid football film.
August 10, 2014
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Imagine every football movie, throw in every cliché to the max, and you have this film, about a small Texas town obsessed with high school football and how the backup quarterback (James van der Beek) rises to fame after the starting quarterback (Paul Walker) goes down with an injury in large part to his egotistical coach's (Jon Voight) poor decision making. The characters are caricatures, not really well developed and overacted to the extreme, especially by Voight in a scene-chewing, though admittedly enjoyable, performance. Half of the actors look ten years out of high school but they are still playing high school students. You can pretty much call every scene in the movie from beginning to end, but for some odd reason, you still end up liking the ride for the most part. It's fluff entertainment that does not have any interest in being anything more than that, but as long as you are okay with that, it's an alright film.
May 24, 2014
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Coach Bud Kilmer: Your daddy was a no-talent pussy, but at least he listened! 

"Make your own rules."

I had seen this movie over the course of the last five years, but never as a whole. I had always seen parts of it here and there on television, but before I had watched it as a whole, I had only known the movie in clips. It's a fairly standard high school film. It's overly melodramatic and each and every character or plot development is completely overplayed to the point where the cliches are flying at you from the screen. Varsity Blues feels so amateurish, it's ridiculous. It's poorly acted, written, and directed; settling for just the standard plot and characters that go along with lazy, unoriginal high school movies.

In Texas, football is everything. Kids are taught from a young age to give all they have to the game, even if they don't really want to. Mox is the backup quarterback to an all-state god. When the starter is injured and can't play anymore, Mox is forced to step into the starters shoes and take over the team. His coach, Bud Kilmer is a local god, but only the players really know what he is like. He doesn't actually care about his players, only his résumé. 

I really dislike this movie, despite its easy to watch nature. The only reason it's so easy to watch, comes from the fact that there is a certain amount of enjoyment in watching a film that is so unsubtle and poorly executed. There isn't really a level that the movie actually succeeds on. It's all just incredibly horrible.

This isn't a movie of the caliber of Friday Night Lights. All it is, is another stereotypical, cliche, and insultingly stupid take on high school football and the players who play. Could the movie have been worse? Probably, but not much worse. I would suggest skipping this one. No matter how much you like high school movies or how much you like sports movies or any combination of the two; Varsity Blues is absolutely not worth your time.
September 1, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

A Texas high school quarterback defies convention and a hard-line coach as he leads his team to success and raucous teen fun.
My favorite sports film of all time is 61*, and that's not just because I'm a die-hard Yankees fan. I think my favorite moment in Billy Crystal's film is Roger Maris's response to one of the reporter's questions: the reporter asks him about the heroism of what he accomplished (I wish I could quote verbatim, but I don't have that good a memory), and Maris replies, "I don't think that's something you can earn on a ball field." And because of the attention that film pays to Maris's off-the-field struggles, we understand his point. Essentially, Varsity Blues flirts with the same point. The main character, Mox, considers his goals reaching beyond high school, and the film attempts to satirize/criticize the seriousness with which Texas high school communities take football. The problem is that the film ends up reinforcing everything it criticizes. Everything that you think would happen does, and what we're left with is a crippling contradiction: the goals these people hold so dearly are foolishly short-sighted, but we're still supposed to relish in the moments the characters achieve them.
Also, perhaps it's because my high school experience was much like most people's time in prison, but I always find films that portray high schoolers as adults, with the freedoms and problems adults have, to be extraordinarily false. After all, I don't know any town, in Texas or anywhere else, where seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds would be able to drink freely, steal a police car, go to a strip club (where their teacher moonlights [a teacher's pay isn't that bad]), and still face no consequences.
Overall, if you like over-drawn cliches and don't mind if a film is thematically contradictory, then enjoy Varsity Blues and the brief but delectable shot of Ali Larter in a whip cream bikini.
June 11, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Coach Bud Kilmer: Make him understand.
    – Submitted by Rito N (19 months ago)
    1. Miss Davis: Penis, Penis, Penis. Vagina, Vagina, Vagina.
    – Submitted by Connor T (2 years ago)
    1. Sam Moxon: You get the opportunity of a lifetime, and you treat it like a joke...
    2. Mo Moxon: Playing football may have been the opportunity of your lifetime, but I don't want your life!
    – Submitted by Caroline D (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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