Over the weekend, the Green Bay Packers started another regular season with a strong opening performance against the Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Last weekend also marked the Wisconsin opening of another (absolutely not official) entertainment vehicle loosely related to the Packers. A film called The 60 Yard Line premiered at theaters throughout the state. Despite raising just over $22,500 of its $105,000 crowdfunding goal last year, the feature film managed to garner the necessary funds to complete the low-budget comedy in time for the season.
The movie was written by actor/writer Ryan Churchill—a Wisconsin ex-pat whose roles include “Student #2” on an episode of Bones and the titular robot on Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy—and his friend, actor/writer Nick Greco, who’s had single-episode arcs on New Girl, The League, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The 60 Yard Line stars Churchill in role of Ben “Zagger” Zagowski, a huge fan of the green and gold who falls haphazardly into owning a party house near Lambeau, and risking his relationship in the process. Greco plays Zagger’s enabling Bears fan best friend, Polano. Oh, and John Kuhn is in it briefly. That’s pretty much all you need to know about it, but here’s the trailer anyway.
Though it’s hard to imagine a harmless comedy and Packers tribute completely missing the mark, The 60 Yard Line combines well-worn (and utterly inaccurate) comedic themes, lazy Wisconsin cliches, a detestable protagonist, clunky cameos, and production values that necessitate a pre-movie “not approved by the Packers” disclaimer to forge the film equivalent of an embarrassing mid-game cutaway to a guy wearing cheesehead that’s been stretched to fill 90-minutes.
Following a series of interviews with actual fans (which occur periodically to serve as act breaks and, seemingly, filler), an NFL Films-channeling narrator introduces us to Zagger, just as the manchild prepares to show Amy, his fiancée of eight years, the balance of their joint bank account that’s finally high enough to fund their dream wedding. After Amy (New Zealand-born actor Kimberley Crossman doing a grating Minnesota-esque accent) and the wisecracking Polanco are introduced, Zagger leaves his mail room job—which Amy got him—with his only friend in tow so he can get his trusty stats binder and catch a Packers practice. After hyperventilating whilst watching a knockoff Aaron Rodgers throw, the stunted sports fan sees a stadium-adjacent house for sale, and meets Mark Tauscher…who is in Green Bay because the film is conveniently set in 2009.
Between the proximity to the field and a chance run-in with the Packers guard in the neighborhood, Zagger desperately wants the house. A conflict arises. “Amy likes the Pack,” Zagger says, unconvincingly. “But she also wants the wedding really, really bad.” His devotion instantly crumbles when Ahman Green bikes past. The second of three cameos of players from the 2009 roster prompts an immediate purchase and ushers in a steady string of selfish miscues that are perpetrated for the sake of living near the place his favorite football team plays eight days annually.
The gender roles also seem to be set in 2009, if not much earlier, as Amy is reduced to an irrational, wine-swilling, “Er noh?”-saying Midwestern trope whose needs aren’t only ignored, they’re directly worked against. Even after she accepts her husband-to-maybe-eventually-be-once-he-gets-around-to-it’s decision to buy a house without consulting her, Zagger throws her decorations away and redecorates the quaint home into “The 60 Yard Line” when he thinks she’s away on business with her boss (whom the film deems flawed solely due to his strong male feminist beliefs). She gets upset and leaves to eat ice cream and cry with another prop…er uh female character, he gets drunk with his buddy on clearly sponsored Titletown Brewing and Point products, and he waits for her to inevitably return to the party house she never wanted. (She does.) Along the way, we meet Vanessa, or as the debaucherous and douchy duo calls her, “The Gong Show” (because she’s the kind of girl you want to bang and then leave).
Zagger’s efforts to save his relationship range from leaving her one voicemail to throwing a party to try to replenish the $30,000 he drained from their wedding fund one $5 beer cup at a time. Those efforts go nowhere after John Kuhn and friends urge Zagger to get drunk and The Gong Show “squats on his brat.” It’s okay though, losing the love of his life and the job she got him just gives Zagger more time to play video games with Ahman Green and partake in “Cheeze Nutz” in his party basement.
As the film progresses, its leading man regresses into a sad, boozy haze wherein his friendship with Polano is tested, his newfound popularity fades, and his life falls apart. Eventually, even “The Gong Show” won’t take him anymore. However, that’s all quickly solved when he cleans his house once, his parents give him a job, both his friends and loved ones return to him without any rational reason to do so, and he lands a dream job with the Packers…after his mom fills out an application for him. Oh, and a Chuck Liddell cameo is hamfistedly tossed in for absolutely no reason at all.
The 60 Yard Line isn’t all bad, though. The Jetty Boys play one of the house parties, Kuhn says “shit” once, and both Cedric Yarbrough (of Reno 911! note) and Randall Park (Veep and Fresh Off The Boat) make the most of their limited time on screen. Still, none of that is enough to spare The 60 Yard Line, a story of something that “kind of sort of happened” that would’ve been better left untold.