14 June 2020 | happyendingrocks
Not quite a deuce, but not a lot to love either.
Spying the luminaries in the Jocks cast roster, it's tempting to imagine that this must be an elite breed of the adolescent coitus comedy promised by its poster artwork. It's not; Christopher Lee and Richard Roundtree reportedly only appeared in this film as a favor to director Steve Carver, and nothing that happens in this movie bears any relation to the image on that selfsame poster. Regardless, Jocks does feature a few time-capsule nuggets which disqualify it from being a complete waste of time. It's just a shame that a filmmaker with such talented friends couldn't find a better use for them than this.
The plot traces the journey of a group of hard-partying misfit tennis players who travel to Las Vegas to compete in a tournament that they must win in order to stop their school from cutting their funding and disbanding the team. Hijinks ensue, they hit some bars and meet some girls, conflicts arise and are surmounted, etc. In that sense, Jocks almost comes across as a real movie. Unfortunately, whether you enjoy tennis or not, it's not a sport that lends itself particularly well to an against-all-odds athletics story, which leaves only the comedy and the genre's lewder elements to supply the bulk of the thrills. Since the quantity of the latter is so paltry here, Jocks doesn't really qualify as a sex comedy, and with only a handful of chuckle-worthy moments to speak of, it barely qualifies as a comedy at all.
On the plus side, the Sin City setting adds immeasurably to the film's appeal, capturing the storied mecca in all of the delightfully divey glory of its bygone years. Viewers who never experienced Vegas before it was transformed into a high-tech adult Disneyland will barely recognize the place as it appears on the screen here. Most of the landmarks that defined the town in the '80s don't even exist anymore, so all of the establishing shots and backgrounds are rich with a nostalgia that's often more engaging than what's actually taking place in the movie.
Most of the characters are presented as one-note archetypes which exclude any real connection to them (Tex says "y'all" and wears a cowboy hat, yuppie Jeff is too square to party and has an ex-fiancée improbably named Muffy, Jheri-curled Andy hits on every girl he meets and is a good dancer, etc). Don Gibb from Revenge Of The Nerds is on hand to stretch his acting chops by essentially playing Ogre again, and much effort is expended trying and failing to make the rebranded "Ripper" this outing's equivalent break-out character. But the gang's centerpiece is the team's star player, "The Kid", who Scott Strader manages to infuse with enough charisma to make him mostly likeable even though he's basically a d-bag. Still, even though the film lingers its focus on this core squad, the supporting cast is far more memorable and enjoyable to watch. Lee and Roundtree would be welcome presences even if they were just reading out of a phone book, veteran pinch-hitter Trinidad Silva steals any scene he appears in, and a young and gorgeous Mariska Hargitay is a joy to behold whenever she's on the screen.
Jocks isn't strictly bottom of the barrel, but with so many promising elements in play that never reach their potential, the film is ultimately interesting for what it could have been rather than for what it actually is. 1980's completists will have a decent time, but for anyone curious why fans of the era still hold movies like this close to their hearts, there is a long list of titles that will provide much better answers than this one does.