Family, Football, Life

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By Paul Hall

I’m a football fan and a movie lover. So when movies combine my passion for the two, I’m ready for the game from the first snap. Of course, that makes me an easy mark for the new film Home Team, airing now on Netflix, which also adds a family component in its attempt to reach the end zone.

Home Team is based on the true story of longtime New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton (Kevin James). Payton is focused on football. He reached the pinnacle of coaching with the Saints Super Bowl XLIV win. Elation turns to confusion and panic after Commissioner Roger Goodell hands Payton a one-year suspension from the NFL following a scandal that rocked the team.

While the appeal works its way through the process, Payton heads to Texas to spend football season checking out his son Connor’s (Tait Blum) football team. Although the town is a long way from the NFL and the kids have fallen into a bit of a slump on the football field, the game is the least of his worries, for now.

Before you know it, instinct takes over and Payton is enlisted by Connor’s coach, Troy Lambert (Taylor Lautner), to join his staff and help out. Payton is drawn to the team by the football, but is concerned about further harming his relationship with his son. Can he get both his love for the game and his son back on track?

I’m going to be perfectly clear on one thing: this is not one of the best movies I will see in 2022. From an objective film standpoint, there are problems at every turn. The opening NFL sequences felt cheap and poorly thrown together. Many of the football plays, motions and actual action were less than perfect, and on at least a couple of occasions, just wrong.

Despite its problems, Home Team has heart. The kids are likable, and James and Lautner work in their respective roles. The family story and the story of redemption are big parts of the playbook that succeed. Dare I say it, I could even see Lautner taking the story further with a focus on the kids here.

Family-friendly titles in this space are a little hard given the story, but with a PG rating, Home Team is accessible for all age groups. Despite a film that never really finds its focus, its focus might be just that. Using football on first down, family on second down and life on third is destined to get some points on the board.

You won’t be seeing a great movie with Home Team, but you will be seeing a movie that, taken for what it is, will have more points than punts, although the filmmakers frequently fumble along the way.

Paul’s Grade: B- (Enjoyment) / C- (Film)

Home Team
Rated PG
Stars: Kevin James, Taylor Lautner, Tait Blum, Rob Schneider, Jackie Sandler
Directors: Charles Kinnane, Daniel Kinnane