I had a nagging suspicion that this turkey of a movie was written by members of my generation with my generation in mind. A quick check with IMDB revealed that my suspicions were correct. In fact, the “creative” forces behind Balls of Fury, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, are exactly as old as I am. We were all born in 1970. Obviously, we were all obsessed with Def Leppard while we were growing up in the 1980s (I saw them in concert), and we all developed an absurdist slapstick sort of comedy that was an amalgam of Eddie Murphy and Airplane.
I abandoned all of them.
Garant and Lennon continued to embrace these useless qualities and even managed to convince some studio executives that the number of our generation, generation X (or gen-xers, for the many who insist on contraction of meaningless ascriptions) who will be suckered in to see this movie will be sufficient for a hefty profit. They must have been right. After all, the movie was clearly done on a shoestring budget, in complete haste and with a largely amateur staff. So, getting a fraction of us Gen-xers would be enough for a profit.
In my case, it was not the 80s factor that drew me to the movie. It was the fact that I wanted to see a lighthearted movie, and The Simpsons Movie was not playing in my vicinity. Balls thus became the natural choice for an evening of mirth. Mirth was not achieved, however, because Lennon and Garant elected to fully deploy 80s nostalgia probably because they were convinced that the pitch that got them the project remotely contained merit.
In that regard, they were utterly mistaken, and, consequently, they developed the germ of a potentially funny idea into a nostalgia movie for a generation that is incapable of feeling nostalgia. After all, how does one create a feeling of nostalgia when the old music and old TV shows never die. TVLand keeps playing the shows on which we grew up. Umpteen radio stations in each radio market still play Def Leppard and every other hair band from the 80s. The “alternative” radio stations keep playing the alternative hits of the 80s. Motown and 70s disco and rock are permanent fixtures on the radio dial of every American. How could we miss the past when we are bombarded with it daily?
So, why waste an opportunity to make something funny by appealing to fictive nostalgia?
Despite all that, it does not seem as if this team of people could have made a funny movie at all. Although Lennon is hilarious on Reno 911, he gives a less than inspiring performance of the German stereotype. Garant’s framing and timing in the direction are always off, and the editing stretches what should be two-second jokes into 30-second attempts at humor that ultimately fail because one is too bored at that point to laugh at all.
In all, this was a poorly conceived and poorly executed movie that was marketed well. It is difficult to tell if this team has any potential for future success because there are far too few moments that inspire genuine laughter in Balls.
All I can say is nice try, guys. I want my $9 back.