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Lawn Bowls, the Sport That Time Forgot

National Lampoon's Blackball on IMDb

Plot Overview

mischievous boy w/slingA young man Cliff "Trouble" Starkey (Paul Kaye) works with his grand­father Mutley (Bernard Cribbins) in the Starkey and Son Painters and Decorators business. Mutley raised him from a pup and acquainted him with his favorite sporting activity of lawn bowls. He got to be quite good at it. He refuses to play in Mutley's hoity toity Royal Torquay Balls Club. Until Australia comes to town for the inter­national competition and then he enters the South Peninsula contest to try to get to the world match.

winnerThe reigning Peninsula champ is snobby Ray Speight (James Cromwell) whose airs derive from trying to distance him­self from the Lynx Estate slum where he grew up. He gets trounced by the upstart until he has him disqualified. How­ever, since Speight was the editor of the rule book, he had a conflict of interest, and Starkey's new manager Rick Schwartz (Vince Vaughn) brings media attention to bear, which affects the club's bottom line forcing them to reconsider. In the end these two are paired together in the doubles world champion­ship match, which Speight agrees to, “because I'm English.

photographerSpeight's daughter Kerry (Alice Evans) takes a shine to bad boy Starkey until the media attention affects her good girl image and she loses her position as girls hockey coach at a secondary school. She's able to pick up bar work at the event. All three end up at odds with each other, which affects the team to the point where that dog won't hunt.


Bowls is played as a singles sport, but in this movie teamwork was necessary à la (Eccl. 4:9-12)
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.

Cliff Starkey and his grandfather Mutley earned a profitable reward for their joint labor with the old guy finessing the wall­paper while his strong grand­son held the ladder. When he wasn't there to help him, the old guy fell off it. Cliff & Kerry were tucked in nice and cozy in his celebrity trailer, but apart they were out in the cold. When the English team and their daughter/girl­friend unite, they are unstoppable.

Production Values

” (2003) was directed by Mel Smith. It was written by Tim Firth. It stars Paul Kaye, James Cromwell, and Alice Evans. Kaye the lead comes off as an unabashed jerk. Cromwell his foil successfully portrays the classic swell. Evans as his daughter is eye candy with a heart. Mark Dymond & Mark Little as Australia's baddest bowlers are a joke. Vince Vaughn holds his own as an over-the-top American agent. The rest of the cast is okay in a distinctively British way.

MPAA rated it R for language. Neither its British Billings­gate nor its limey humor translate perfectly into American minds. It was filmed on location in Torquay, Devon, England, UK. So much of it was geometrical in play that it leant itself well to discount special effects. Its run­time was a merciful 1 hr. 36 min.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

The movie's plot was daft and its dialogue laced with non sequiturs. The sport action was so relent­less a person might rather watch golf where he can catch his breath between holes—in real life bowls is probably more sedate. This flick would make good filler on sports night.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Sports Night special. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.