At one point in The Comebacks, a desperate spoof of inspirational sports movies, a rebellious young gymnast (whose plotline echoes Stick It) struts past a bunch of guys wearing a bikini and carrying a surfboard. "Hey 'Blue Crush,'" one of them says. And that's pretty much as far as it goes: Other than the mild absurdity of a surfer chick in the middle of Texas, there's no joke there, just an homage to a semi-popular movie. In a nutshell, that's the problem with parodies like this one and the Scary/Date/Epic Movie spoofs; they think that references alone constitute jokes, so they often don't bother putting much of a twist on them. They seem to hope that simply picking up on not-so-obscure nods to mainstream movies will be gratification enough for the audience. So congratulations, viewers: You don't live in a cave.
As these things go, The Comebacks is slightly better than most, thanks mostly to David Koechner's guileless, boneheaded enthusiasm in the lead role and a plot that at least attempts to serve as an ironic counterpoint to the underdog formula. Koechner plays the losing-est coach in sports history, the man responsible for Bill Buckner's famous World Series flub and Zinedine Zidane's recent World Cup meltdown. He gets another chance when his former assistant (Carl Weathers) finds him a job coaching a ragtag small-college squad filled out by character types from other football movies like Rudy and Radio. (The Invincible guy doesn't make the cut.) Despite Koechner's commitment to losing and shaky academics, his scrappy players find many would-be hilarious ways to win and make The Big Game.
Adhering to few solid comedic principles, The Comebacks swings wildly between lame movie references and slapstick, slightly less lame funny names (such as Aseel Tare, the running back who couldn't possibly be injured) and Airplane!-style spoof, and a few mildly amusing stabs at irony. It's a shame, too, because bringing on three-time Super Bowl winner and alleged two-time covergirl impregnator Tom Brady as director would seem like a great advantage. Unfortunately, the Tom Brady the studio hired to make The Comebacks is the man responsible for The Hot Chick. And this Brady apparently believes that the glorious spectacle of Rip Torn hurling wrenches at people can be improved upon in some way. He pays for his hubris.