There is hardly a word or move in Master like you haven’t seen anywhere else before, but in a very modest way, this goofy minor-league basketball yarn exudes enough amiable and vaguely raunchy charm to keep a smile on sports fans’ faces most of the time. Woody Harrelson makes the most of his role as a minor-league coach who’s been around the block, whose likely last hope for the job is to whip a bunch of physically challenged misfits into presentable shape. It’s very easy to imagine bunches of middle-aged guys sitting around the tube at home or in a bar, chugging a few while enjoying this one.
Mark Rizzo’s screenplay is based on the 2018 Spanish comedy master, directed by Javier Fesser and inspired by a real team. The new film is set safely in the American Midwest, although many of its biggest fans may end up being Canadian (the film was shot in Canada). From the beginning, it’s easy to see that Harrelson’s middle-aged Marcus Markovich hasn’t grown out of his temper-tantrum-dominated youth; As an introduction, Marcus is seen angrily pushing the coach of his J-League team.
Unsurprisingly, the man’s bad behavior lowers his employment prospects from minimal to zero, as he even abuses the athletes temporarily entrusted to him on the track at a local gym. They are a motley bunch, admittedly, a mixed bag of bad, serious and not particularly coordinated players who don’t exactly inspire thoughts of athletic prowess. They certainly deserve credit for being game and trying their hands at sports, but you would never imagine that trophies would be in the future for any of these athletes.
When reckless Marcus chalks up a DUI, the local hanging judge sentences the good old boy to 90 days of community service, which in this case means training the motley crew of young misfits in their quest for hoops and glory. Given the absence of anything resembling athletic excellence among the potential athletes, some of whom have clear signs of mental as well as physical limitations, one initially believes that this is a program essentially dedicated to getting them some exercise instead of achieving something resembling athletic prowess; in the earlier scenes, some of them can’t make a shot at all.
Off the field, Marcus begins spending some time with local country beauty Alex (Kaitlin Olson), who is eager enough to counter the man’s bs and smart enough to inspire him to shape his act. The man’s newfound purpose in life carries over to his athletic pursuits, and while it’s still hard to believe this motley crew could ever be truly athletic — opponents invariably seem more capable of making the basketball go where they want it to than they do. able to. the home team — you know you’re suddenly in a new phase where a previously slacker guy decides to turn a corner, make a real effort and take things seriously.
It doesn’t mean that Master suddenly shifts gears from the comic to the dramatic; director Bobby Farrelly can’t help but make use of every opportunity for hilarity that comes his way, to the point that the fun stuff almost always wins when the opportunity presents itself. The film both wins and loses in its desire to be something of a true romantic comedy rather than just a laugh fest, and it’s actually odd that the far more athletic big guys are seen making most of their shots and even managing some slam dunks , while the scrappy little guys and gals are mostly far smaller, but win games on their way to defeating the bigger beasts.
Harrelson is completely convincing and entertaining as a naughty boy finally brought to heel in a good way; the actor is in his wheelhouse here and delivers. Olson is highly appealing, albeit a bit of a fantasy, as the woman who finally inspires this guy to shape up well past his sell-by date.