Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Snowboard Academy – waste of talent

Snowboard Academy – waste of talent

Skiers and snowboarders clash on a ski resort with Rudy James (Jim Varney of Ernest fame) caught right in the middle. What results is the 1996 film Snowboard Academy. A half hearted (maybe even no hearted) attempt at comedy, and you’ll see why.

Jim Varney pretty much plays his Ernest character in this film under a different character name. And that name would be Rudy James, a man applying for safety inspector at a ski resort headed by Mr. Barry (no first name given and played by Joe Flaherty).  From introduction to all the way to the end, Varney plays Ernest with a slight bit of cursing and adult humor added. (He randomly tells jokes like “”my wife is so fat that when we finish making love, she rolls over and smokes a ham.”) Most jokes are dialogue about misunderstanding between Mr. Barry and Rudy.

Causing trouble at the resort is the feud between Mr. Barry’s adopted sons, the kiss up Paul (played by Paul Hopkins, with a character name that sounds like director [] said “might as well call you by your given  name”.) and the rebellious Chris(played by Corey Haim in a role he tries too hard to be “cool”). Chris and his snowboarding buddies are always causing trouble at the resort while security figure Red Eagle (played by Andreas Afergis in a role that becomes an excessively repeated bad joke.) After a lot of conflict, Chris manages to convince his father to hold snowboarding lessons. Which in turn quickly becomes a holding of skiers versus snowboarders competition. Trying to profit from sabotaging the ski resort is Mr. Barry’s Russian wife Mimi (played by Brigitte Nielson in a return to doing a Russian accent since Rocky 3.)

Exactly what type of comedy Snowboard Academy is supposed to be is confusing. The light hearted atmosphere and character behavior would at first have you believing that this is some type of family comedy. (Notably the character Red Eagle’s very cartoonish way of speaking, along with Varney playing the normally family friendly Ernest type character, and the fact that the movie is rated pg.) But from nowhere we get cursing and dirty jokes popping up when at least expected. It actually caught me off guard hearing Varney say “no shit” in response to one of Mimi’s comments.

To add to the confusion is who exactly the audience is supposed to be rooting for. Chris is introduced to us as the leader of snowboarders harassing ski resort patrons as they what they please. The other son Paul is introduced as a hard disciplined task master who wants everything in order. So when the competition between skiers and snowboarders begins, we don’t really know who the good guys are supposed to be. (Given the way this film was made, I don’t think the director purposely created characters that were shades of grey.)

Overall this almost comes off at the attempt of a ski resort trying show off their location by hiring a director and quickly made a film. There are many excuses just to show off skiers and snowboarders aswell. Jim Varney’s Ernest routine is the only thing that actually funny in Snowboard Academy. (The only exception would be the stoned snowboarder, who speaks in such heavy surfer lingo that he needs subtitles.) The laughs rest solely on the character Rudy James, and all the incompetent comedy in this film to much of heavy burden for even Jim Varney to carry. Snowboard Academy is a waste of Varney’s talent and a bad foot note in his career. I would say skip this film and watch one of Varney’s Ernest movies. (Even the later bad ones would do.)

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