TD for Turkey Bowl

Barely a feature at 64 minutes, occupying a strange middle ground between conceptual stunt and Hollywood calling card, Kyle Smith’s Turkey Bowl is an ingeniously designed and sharply executed experiment in faux-vérité quasi-improv comedy. Unfolding in real-time, it’s a multi-camera chronicle of the annual touch football game organized by Jon (Jon Schmidt), as an excuse to ditch work for a day and reunite with his college pals. The crew includes Jon’s tomboy goddess crush (played by Red State starlet Kerri Bishe, the closest thing to a recognizable face here), a bickering couple, a hyper-competitive hothead, and two interloping strangers. While the match is mostly just a setup from which to organically tease out the relationships between the players—mostly through asides, shit-calling, and sideline interactions—it’s still staged and edited with a clarity that trumps much generic Hollywood action. Even at its length, Turkey Bowl has a hard time sustaining momentum, and a late-in-the-game montage suggests that Smith isn’t quite sure how, or even if, to resolve some of the tensions between his characters. Not that he has to: The director and his actors successfully sell the notion that these are real people whose lives and relationships will continue off the field—and that’s more than enough.

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