Varsity Blues opened in theaters 15 years ago today and crushed at the box office its opening weekend despite lukewarm reviews from critics. While on the surface it’s a sports flick, it catered heavily to the teen audience who were lapping up offerings like She’s All That and Can’t Hardly Wait at the time.
Varsity Blues didn’t really break any new ground, there had certainly been movies about high school football before it(All The Right Moves, Wildcats). But it did help shine a light on the West Texas obsession with the sport — ushering in a film/TV version of Friday Night Lights and probably even having even an influence on Esquire’s Friday Night Tykes.
The movie provided Paul Walker’s springboard and gave James Van Der Beek his most successful film role to date. From the truth behind the whip cream bikini to NFL touchdown dance tributes, here are 10 facts you might not know about the high school gridiron classic.
1. Mox’s jersey number is a tribute to Brett Farve. Mox wears a #4 jersey in homage to James Van Der Beek’s favorite quarterback, Brett Farve, who wore a #4 jersey while he was with the Green Bay Packers.
2. The team’s beer of choice is simply “beer.” The beers that people are drinking in the party scene appear to be Budweiser from the label, but under closer inspection, it’s simply called “beer.” The only reference to an actual beer brand comes with the Lonestar can that Lance’s father puts on his head.
3. Paramount Pictures was sued by the University of Toronto over the movie. You wouldn’t expect a bunch of Canucks to take offense with a movie about Texas football, but the University of Toronto had trademarked the name Varsity Blues in the mid-1980s. The University said that the movie painted athletics in a negative light and sued Paramount before settling for an undisclosed amount and setting up eight scholarships with the cash load.
4. The movie has become somewhat of a gag in sitcoms. Maybe geeky sitcom writers are still jealous of the jocks or maybe they’re just closeted James Van Der Beek fans, but the movie has worked its way into a number of sitcoms. In an episode of Undeclared, Lloyd quotes the movie in an effort to pull off an American accent and Michael selects it for his “Movie Monday” in The Office. The Blues gets nods in Happy Endings, Psych and The Big C as well.
5. The famous whipped cream bikini didn’t involve whipped cream at all. It’s probably Ali Larter’s most defining moment in film, but her whipped cream bikini was actually shaving cream. Whipped cream wasn’t sticking right to Ali’s body and shaving cream had the right consistency to stay in place.
6. Van Der Beek was almost benched by a Dawson’s Creek rival. James Van Der Beek was huge at the time of the movie’s filming because of Dawson’s Creek, but he wasn’t a shoe-in for the part of Moxon. Dawson’s Creek heartthrob #2, Joshua Jackson was also in talks for the role.
7. Tweeter gives props to Ickey’s shuffle. He may not admit it on film, but Tweeter’s end zone dance that he shows off to Mox in the locker room is a take on Bengals’ player Elbert “Ickey” Woods’ signature Ickey Shuffle.
8. The Ford on the poster isn’t even in the movie. The movie’s poster features the guys hanging out on the bed of a blue and white Ford, but it’s not Billy Bob’s; Billy Bob drove a blue Chevy. In fact, the Ford from the cover never even shows up during the movie.
9. The movie isn’t without a director cameo appearance. Directors love making cameos in their movies and Varsity Blues director Brian Robbins is no exception. Extras filled in the roles of football players in the locker room scenes and Robbins appears as one of the players, sporting a jersey with his name on the back.
10. Scenes from the trailer don’t appear in the movie. Why the studio decided to cut a few lines from the movie, yet include them in the DVD trailer is a mystery. Jules’ proclamation of “You woke up in the twilight zone, West Canaan, sex and football. That’s all there is,” never makes it into the movie, and neither does the scene with a pep-rally girl asking Lance to sign her ass.
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