[Some NSFW language in the video above]
When, in the first 15 minutes of a movie, you find yourself oddly invested in the struggles of an intramural flag football team you know you're in for a treat.
When you're watching the film in a sold-out theater in which 30 percent of the audience are cast and crew who are possibly a little tipsy and likely seeing it for the first time, you can expect to laugh with more ferocity than usual. This, paired with director Andrew Disney's Buffer-esque intro, set the tone for Monday night's Tribeca Film Festival screening of Intramural.
Comprised of a cast that includes SNL's latest prodigies (Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah, Beck Bennett), relative mainstreamers (Jake Lacy of The Office and Nikki Reed of Twilight fame) and even movie vet Clint Howard (whose hilarious after credits cameo served as the film's comedy cherry on top), Intramural is the latest in the genre of sports comedies that both mock and pay tribute to the cliches that define the underdog film. With the tagline, "the epic sports movie for the guys who don't deserve one," Intramural is less Semi-Pro and more Wet Hot American Summer with its straight up odd humor that always seems to click for some and not for others (see also: The State). But it seemed to work pretty well for the crowd at Tribeca.
After the film the cast members in attendance did an extended Q&A which was almost an extension of the film, filled with improv performances meant to serve as "answers."
Beck Bennett in his frattiest voice, talking about the atmosphere on-set: "It was kinda fun hangin' out with my buds, makin' a movie. We all just goofed on each other all the time. Jumped on each other. Messed around."
Nick Rutherford on the extent to which the largely non-athletic cast had to learn about football: "We had, uh, way too much football practice. I mean, it's a f***ing movie. You can cut around the plays!"
Jay Pharoah on his sports background: "I was not always 6’2" 200 pounds. I used to be a little shrimp. I was 5’7" and 250. So I'm running down the field—keep in mind this is football—and the team is humongous. These guys were like 7'84". They running towards me, we running towards them, the man hit me so hard my body hit the ground, I popped up and starting running with the other team. I got drafted right there."
For my part, I was curious about one writer's reference to the film as "one of the greatest intramural sports movies of all time," and caught Kate McKinnon on the red carpet to get her picks for best intramural sports movies. (It was, of course, a trick question; if there exists more than one movie about intramural sports, I'd be shocked.) McKinnon was at a loss , offering instead her picks for top three intramural sports, ever: "I guess there's intramural volleyball. Lacrosse is a sport, yes. I suppose they'd have intramural tennis."
Intramural will not be a learning experience, that is a guarantee. But, as Extra Mustard editor Dan Treadway put it, a 98-minute film about intramural flag football had "no business being that funny." And yet.
-- [All props go to Ali Fenwick for being smart enough to record the Q&A, and ask the questions that prompted the best answers.]