Watching 4th and Long put an end to any doubts I had about the importance of high school football to its fans. In this highly amusing independent film, three avid supporters of the Wildcats join forces to save their beloved team after learning the football program is being abolished for financial reasons.
Our “heroes” graduated many years ago, but their passion for football has never subsided. The trio includes an outrageous senior citizen, a disgraced assistant coach, and a guy who wanted desperately to play football in high school. Each one of these characters is worth a film all his own. They’re quirky, flawed and fabulous. Their lives center around the Wildcats, and they go into a deep funk when faced with the team’s demise.
Fortunately, that funk doesn’t last long. These overzealous fans decide to raise money to keep the Wildcats afloat. Their plan? A celebrity flag football game, of course. Never mind that some of the celebrities fail to show up or that one of our main characters meets an unexpected fate during the game, it’s still a hoot!
This low-budget comedy shines because of its impressive character-driven plot. It’s not Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights, but it boasts humorous performances and some almost hysterically funny scenes. My favorite sequence is an inter-personal gem. It takes place not on the football field but in a library -- and involves a bureaucratic explanation about why the help requested cannot be given.
I agree with director Timothy Vandenberg’s observation about what sets 4th and Long apart from other films. “It’s truly original and uniquely funny,” he says. “The jokes are not tired and derivative and we didn’t aim for the lowest common denominator with the laughs. The film truly offers something that is different and original and something most people can relate to.” (Capsule review.)
(Released by Club North Productions; not rated by MPAA.)