Varsity Blues

6.51 h 44 min1999X-RayHDRUHDR
A back-up quarterback is chosen to lead a Texas football team to victory after the star quarterback is injured.
Brian Robbins
James Van Der BeekJon VoightPaul Walker
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Tova LaiterMike TollinBrian RobbinsDavid GaleVan Toffler
Paramount Pictures
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Smokingalcohol usefoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.7 out of 5 stars

4742 global ratings

  1. 84% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

H. P.Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Influenced By and Influential On Friday Night Lights in Turn
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American Pie made a hundred million dollars in 1999, but for those of us living in wide swathes of the country, there was another high school movie that was just as important: Varsity Blues.

It’s interesting to revisit Varsity Blues because it was influenced by Odessa Permian (the original creator admitted as much, although he never admitted any inspiration by Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights), but it came out before either the Friday Night Lights movie or the show, and I think it wound up influencing both. I think that Bud Kilmer is probably based in part on former Permian coach John Wilkins. I think the show in particular was influenced by Varsity Blues. Plus Landry is in both.

James Van Der Beek, playing the least popular backup quarterback in the history of football, was the star here, flush with Dawson’s Creek success. But he gets overshadowed by . . . pretty much everyone else on the case. Amy Smart. Jon Voight. Paul Walker. Ron Lester. Scott Caan. I do appreciate that Mox dresses like he is an actual high school student in the 1990s (wooooo JNCOs) while everyone else in the movie dresses like they are in a high school movie set in Texas.

One thing that Varsity Blues does better than the movie or even the TV show ever does is convey the sense that these are people who have known each other their entire lives. It is also intensely quotable.

“I’m back! Puke and rally!”
“Tweeder, you think you’ll enjoy prison?”
“I give it a ten! A ten! A f___ing ten!”
“I don’t want your life” (said with a terrible attempt at . . . some kind of accent)
“Wieners on the glass at the Alano club!”

It just has such incredible energy and style and is so much dang fun.

I can’t say it is entirely realistic though. High school football teams hardly ever overthrow their head coach in a coup. And I used to be friends with a stripper who was a kindergarten teacher. She drove three and a half hours to strip, though, which seems a little smarter than stripping in the same small town you teach in.

But it is also a surprisingly deep story. All those high school kids having a gut check minute about who they really are. There is a nice bit of moral peril, too.
“You ‘bout ready to lose that scholarship, boy?”
“If that’s what it takes to keep that needle out of his leg? Absolutely.”
8 people found this helpful
A. M. ShirleyReviewed in the United States on November 19, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Could have been a great movie... Too vulgar for me.
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An American tradition, in the mind of some. Never saw this movie 'til now. I had no idea there was so much vulgarity. Some reviewers commented that it was a "coming of age" movie. This is partially true, and sad at the same time. It seemed there was a parallel story unfolding of fiction and of reality. The fictional appeal was for our love of Football, and the reality based on the degradation of the morality of our youth, which has ultimately led to the loss of moral fiber and character in our society. It was surreal watching - and understanding - what has pushed this once great people to the place where it is today, self centered, self focused, and weakened sense of moral duty. Even the protagonist is unbelievable in this movie. We know that his generally good decisions was in reality, a farce. In fact, it seemed the director worked to make his somewhat ethical behavior, somewhat unbelievable.

Based on this perspective, a job well done, 5 stars. But if you care about your youth, your children, keep them far and wide from this movie. I gave it 2 stars because you might be able to salvage a dream of rooting for the winning team. I give it 5 stars because it clearly portrays the loss of American dignity. Keep your finger on the mute button! Fast forward through the nudity scenes!
5 people found this helpful
TravisReviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Unauthentic/Pirated Blu Ray
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The Blu Ray disc I received was not authentic (i.e. pirated; bootleg; fake).

It had a jewel case that was slightly too large and was missing the Blu Ray logo at the top. It was thicker than expected by just a few millimeters, but enough to notice.

The clearest sign of a pirated copy was the the disc. The disc had professional looking printing on the front, but the back made it clear that it was a rewritable Blu Ray copy that anyone could have made at home as you could see the data bands that are visible on rewritable media.

This item was sold through the Prime program as well.
4 people found this helpful
H. BalaReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Hey, if you're hungry, I left a few hot dogs in here."
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Sure, VARSITY BLUES delivers an incisive look at the insane pressures and the sheer callousness which surround sports. Even more specifically it offers a peek at how the game of football gains godlike status in small rural towns, what with nothing else to distract the natives but tipping cows, hanging at honky tonks, and harvesting whatever. In West Canaan, Texas, football rules all, fathers live vicariously thru their sons, and the local high school football team is administered with a monstrous iron-fisted grip by Coach Bud Kilmer (played by Jon Voight with maniacal glee). Coach Kilmer thinks nothing of bending rules, thinks nothing of placing his own athletes in jeopardy. Because winning trumps all, and glory is everything. That statue of him looming over the football field is everything.

But what happens when the celebrated hometown hero quarterback goes down for the season? And what's left is an iconoclastic second-string quarterback who isn't willing to sip the coach's Kool-Aid? Can even a kid as grounded as Mox withstand the overwhelming barrage of fame and worship (and free beer) now directed his way? When Mox starts conducting interviews in which he thanks God and refers to himself in the third person, his level-headed girlfriend sure isn't impressed.

So when you're watching VARSITY BLUES there's a whole mess of sports tropes you can check off the list. In a sports movie, it's really hard to steer clear of them tropes. What makes VARSITY BLUES one of the better films in its genre is the heart that went into it. Director Brian Robbins was directed to craft a raunchy PORKY'S-type comedy, and while the raunchiness remains, Robbins' willingness to buck the suits won out. Robbins preferred to make a HOOSIERS-type film, and I do think this picture, by a nose hair, dispenses more gravitas than locker room levity. It has stuff to say, and while we may have heard the message before, this movie delivers it with damning insight. Maybe it all boils down to Mox harshly telling his dad: "Playing football at West Canaan may have been the opportunity of your lifetime, but I don't want your life."

Not to play devil's advocate (except, now, I guess I'm gonna), I will say that, despite being such a lowdown martinet, Coach Kilmer was justified in several of his dressing downs of Mox. Mox had no business reading a book during practice or taking his teammates drinking on the eve of a game. Still, Jon Voight excels at getting hissed at and his character, at heart, really is a despicable, sadistic tool. Voight's presence never fails to lend legitimacy onscreen.

VARSITY BLUES came out in 1999, and features a terrific ensemble cast, anchored by a very good James Van Der Beek as "Mox." Paul Walker, Amy Smart, and Ali Larter were your basic up-and-comers back then, but they all oozed potential. Ron Lester as Billy Bob is wonderful, and the ad-libbing Scott Caan is utterly hilarious as Tweeder, the hard-drinking loose cannon wide receiver who ends up stealing all the scenes and, at one point, the police squad car.

Sports writer Bill Simmons claimed that ALL THE RIGHT MOVES demonstrated better bone-crunching football action, but VARSITY BLUES itself isn't sparing with the hard-hitting football sequences, and some folks seriously get stretched on screen. I label VARSITY BLUES as a sports drama, but plenty of times you'll laugh your what off. So many standout moments in this movie: The William Tell challenge at the barbecue; the "Too Hot for Teacher" sequence; Mox's oddball younger brother and his goofy quest for religion; the fact that no mascot is safe from getting a faceful of football; and "You want some cheese with that whine?"; and, omigosh, the whip cream bikini. I'm calling this movie a classic.

The DVD's special features: a pretty listenable commentary ten years after the movie's release with Director Brian Robbins and Producers Tova Laiter and Mike Tollin; "Football is a Way of Life": the Making of VARSITY BLUES (00:17:46 minutes); "Two-A-Days the Ellis Way" - the cast undergoes training camp under football coordinator Mark Ellis (00:07:48); QB Game Analysis - Mark Ellis and NFL and ex-Texas quarterback Josh McCown critique the film's football aspects and reflect on how the film so closely emulates the small town lifestyle and its obsession with football (00:15:15); Billy Bob with No Bacon - a segment intercutting between the present-day and much, much thinner Ron Lester and the humongous Ron Lester of a decade ago (00:04:39); and the theatrical trailer for VARSITY BLUES.
6 people found this helpful
MrsJReviewed in the United States on May 28, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another Copy
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My copy walked away several years ago with my now ex-husband and it was time to get a new copy and introduce my teenage son to the greatest football movie of all time. Anyone who grew up in a small town where football is king can relate to this movie and can tell you exactly what boys from their class was most like Billy Bob or Tweeder. We now watch this movie regularly as my son instantly fell in love with it the same as his daddy (my Billy Bob) and I.
JDReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A 90's High School Football Classic
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I would recommend this movie to any football fan! or high school movie fan. It's got a good story and takes you through a different time when 90's high school movies were all the rage.
2 people found this helpful
Anita LichteneggerReviewed in the United States on July 8, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Liked the story
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For some reason, I had never seen this movie. My daughter-in-law posted on facebook she was watching it with an old college friend and how much they were enjoying it, reliving their late teens/early twenties. And remembering the songs in the soundtrack. Bought this on a lark, haven't decided if I will keep it after one viewing, but an enjoyable flick, even though I my music is from the 60's generally. Liked the story! My hometown is almost as football crazy as this Texas school, so the story is believable.
One person found this helpful
Queen bee 5406Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Still a great classic movie with laughs and tears
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Such a great movie from the late 1990s. Story line is the book nerd becomes the high school quarterback who takes the team to victory. Yes, story line is same as many movies, but still enjoyable.
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