More suited to the short form, Rob Corddry’s brand of faux-unwitting sarcasm is pushed to the limit by Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story, a mockumentary that exhausts its best joke with its premise: Legendary paintball player Bobby Dukes (Corddry) attempts a comeback 10 years after getting expelled for “wiping”—the paintball equivalent of taking a mulligan. (As a colleague played by fellow Daily Show correspondent Ed Helms puts it, “You put a pretty big shit stain on the entire sport.”) Now bald and allegedly reformed, with old friends shying away (“I would take a bullet for you—I just can’t take a paint bullet for you”), Bobby is forced to tap the dregs of the paintball world for his new team: a referee (Paul Scheer), a video game addict (Curtis Gwinn), and a demented control freak (Rob Riggle), who seems to think paintball is genuine blood sport.
What keeps Blackballed from the glories of the Christopher Guest oeuvre may be the subject itself: Rock bands, regional theater, dog shows, and folk music all suggest a variety of avenues and characters, whereas paintball lacks the subtext—and is too funny on its own—to allow the improv cast significant wiggle room. (What’s next—a miniature-golf version of Caddyshack?) The movie hits its targets occasionally, as when Bobby’s team goes up against a platoon of gangsta-rapping Canadians, or Bobby and his nemesis (Rob Huebel) argue, per Ghostbusters, about whether it’s OK to cross the paint streams. Nor is the film—which has fun mimicking the handheld camerawork of vérité and reality TV—visually indifferent, although shooting the tedious paintball matches in the manner of Private Ryan‘s Omaha Beach landing is a gag that gets old fast. Blurbsters on Rotten Tomatoes will say it’s hit-and-miss—and they’ll be right.