Netflix’s newest release “Home Team” is an Adam Sandler-produced true story starring Kevin James, Taylor Lautner and Rob Schneider. The film follows the story of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who was suspended in 2012 for his involvement in giving bonuses to players who purposefully injured opponents. During his suspension, Payton became the offensive coach for his son’s middle school football team. In January 2013, Payton was reinstated as the Saints head coach, and just announced his retirement this past week.
The film begins with real footage of the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory starring Payton, played by Kevin James in the film. Shortly after, Payton is suspended and ventures back to his hometown, where his 12-year-old son Connor (Tait Blum) and ex-wife Beth (Jackie Sandler) still reside. Having his career put on hold, Payton decides to attempt to repair the relationship he has with his son, whom he rarely gets to see due to his career. While watching another one of their devastating losses, Payton can’t stop himself from giving Head Coach Troy Lambert (Taylor Lautner) some tips. Next thing you know, Coach Lambert convinces Payton to join the coaching staff and bring his son’s team to victory.
While on the surface the film is about transforming a below average team into one that succeeds, there are many underlying layers. The audience witnesses the struggle between Connor and his dad, and the resentment he has toward him for being an absent father. Payton, in the process of owning his mistakes, is forced to reflect on his journey both on and off the field. Immediately, he transforms the mentality of the team and shifts their entire game play. While initially all the young players were excited, the National Championship pressure becomes too much to handle. Coach Payton is forced to put his determination to win aside and prioritize his players’ morale, no matter the outcome.
While I rarely ever watch football and don’t know much about the game, I absolutely loved “Home Team.” To start off, the cast is amazing. The dynamic between the coaching staff, the young kids and the parents in the stands creates a humorous atmosphere that truly had me laughing out loud. Through the laughter, I found myself rooting for Payton and Connor’s relationship. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have an absent father figure during some of the most influential years of your life, so witnessing Payton put in effort to repair that relationship was endearing. Ultimately, the film is about never giving up, no matter how people perceive you. Whether you’re the underdog or the No. 1 ranked team, the most important aspect of the game is to have fun and enjoy yourself. If not, then what’s the point?
If you’re looking for a feel-good film about rising from the bottom, repairing broken relationships and reminding yourself that nothing is that serious, then this is the perfect film for you. If you’re not a fan of football or don’t consider yourself a sports enthusiast, don’t let that stop you! I’m not either, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars