Almost an instant parody of itself the moment it was released, “Varsity Blues” is not a film to be taken seriously. Audiences understood this, giving it a positive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 76, $54 million in box office receipts, and another trip to theaters when a send up of it featured heavily in the trailer for “Not Another Teen Movie.” Critics, bless their hearts, didn’t get it. They rated it at 43, confused by its earnestness, put off by its clichés, or both.
There are definitely moments that the film plays for high drama -– or rather, plays out as an imitation of what high drama might look like -– but it’s all part of the absolute wacky world that is West Nowhere High School, Texas. And the proof that it’s making fun of itself, of its genre, of its very particular brand of teenage schmaltz, comes right at the start, with a big redneck named Billy Bob and his “dog,” a giant pig named Bacon, squealing and stuffing their faces as Billy Bob drives his truck through dusty backroads picking up football players (complete with soaring hero music for Paul Walker, shot from below, as dreamy quarterback star Lance). It’s a ridiculous tableau, meant to exemplify a ridiculous standard, a ridiculous existence, and a gloriously ridiculous film in the making. Cross your eyes and say it out loud: “I don’t want. Your life.”