I think you may have been hard pressed this past week at the Tribeca Film Fest to find a more entertaining red carpet than that of Andrew Disney’s sports comedy, Intramural. Packed with comedic talent, the film enjoyably marries the comedic sensibilities of 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer with the game plans of sports movies almost too numerous to list. Much of the cast and creators gathered on the carpet to discuss the inspiration behind the film and their characters.
Lauren Damon: Can you talk about movies that inspired Intramural?
Director, Andrew Disney: I think comedy-wise, Wet Hot American Summer, Hot Rod–which I think is so underrated—a bit of Happy Gilmore and Teen Wolf, I watched a lot of Teen Wolf–
LD: And from that you did manage to incorporate a little supernatural into your players–
Disney: Right! Right, which I love in Teen Wolf, they just accept it in that world.
Nick Kocher plays Grant, former Panthers team player, back on the field to coach the team to victory after an accident paralyzed him from the balls down.
LD: Your character goes through a dramatic transformation into the coach, did you draw the DNA from other classic sports movie coaches to create him?
Nick Kocher: Did I ‘draw the DNA’? [laughs] I love that! Yeah, I mean the character’s like somewhat similar to the Rip Torn character in Dodgeball in that he’s in a wheelchair but then my character’s also like 22 in the movie so like the fact that he becomes this–I think it’s more I drew inspiration from a guy who would draw inspiration from these coaches. He just watches these movies all day long and you know wants to be this person so literally becomes this character given the opportunity.
LD: You think these movies were most of his childhood?
Kocher: I think Grant hasn’t really had that much attention paid to him and then he gets a lot of attention paid to him when he makes this game winning catch and realizes this is all he wants to do with his life…is just live out these weird sports fantasies and like get attention that way. That was sort of–I love that you’re asking me these in depth questions about this character!
LD: I enjoyed the movie!
Kocher: No, that’s amazing!
LD: Finally, is Coach Grant aware that there are two sports commentators [SNL’s Jay Pharoah and DC Pierson, recently of the Apple guy in The Winter Soldier] talking about his game?
Kocher: [laughs] No! I don’t think they can hear it. I think they’re aware there’s two like stoner guys who come to each game and they’re like ‘oh what’re those guys talking about? I dunno!’ but the stakes are just as high for all of them.
Beck Bennett, who is currently enjoying his first season on “Saturday Night Live”, plays the evil Dick Downs, captain of the opposing team.
LD: What famous film rivals inspired Dick?
Bennett: A lot of things that Ben Stiller does, he was always an influence. Like his character in Heavyweights and also in Dodgeball. Will Ferrell in Zoolander, that’s not a sports movie, but those types of bad guys. Also Bradley Whitford in…
LD: Happy Gilmore?
Bennett: Happy Gilmore.
LD: Oh, not Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison–uh oh, Adam Sandler mix up. I think we’ve committed an SNL crime!
Bennett: You lead me astray! I didn’t say it! You said it!
LD: I’m calling Lorne Michaels!
Bennett: [laughs] So yeah, those are some of the great comedy bad guys.
Backing up Dick Downs is the lackey whose actually a nice guy, Ace, played by Kirk C. Johnson.
LD: Do you have any favorite sports movie rivals?
Johnson: Yeah, for sure. Like Necessary Roughness, have you ever seen that? Yeah, they spit in each other’s mouths before to get each other pumped up. They hit each other on the shoulders and spit at eachother, that. And then like the actual real ones, like Remember the Titans, Rocky and Little Giants. Little Giants is very influential for me.
Kate McKinnon, also of SNL, plays the Vicky who Mckinnon described as “just a girlfriend who just really loves her man but just doesn’t know how to do it quite right.” I asked if she felt out of the sports action of the movie:
McKinnon: I didn’t feel left out not getting to do the sports scenes because I am a horrible athlete and it was Texas in July and I would have died. So no, I didn’t feel left out. I feel that I was spared from a terrible thing.
Creating a sports movie, I asked the cast whether there were any actual football going on off screen. Gabriel Luna, who plays Vinnie, first gave us the details of on-set games:
Luna: No, we played a lot of Cornhole which is a beanbag you throw in a platform. We did a lot of that. A lot of competitive drinking. A game that Nick and Brian [McElhaney] invented called Running Flipcup Charades. Which you may have seen on the Much Ado About Nothing extra features. They played it on a bus, which blows my mind, I don’t know if that’s even possible but apparently they did.
Disney: Cornhole? Yeah I played a lot of cornhole. I wasn’t as much in the competitions, I usually try–when I make a film, I try to abstain from alcohol which is hard but I think it’s good for a director. Like Cool Runnings how like that guy is always in his room studying while…well anyway! I don’t why I’m talking about Cool Runnings, I could talk about cool runnings forever!
Nick Kocher, who detailed the entire rules for Running Flipcup charades for me added:
Kocher: There’s lots of injuries. Brian broke his toe…Also I can say playing Running Flipcup Charades, people were playing much more intensely than they did the actual film sports film. People gave much more of their all to the drinking games.
Finally, seeing as so many of the creators mentioned [Walt] Disney sports movies as influencing them (McKinnon also cited The Mighty Ducks as a favorite), I couldn’t help but wonder if they could see Andrew Disney’s name bringing in the Miracle or Invincible-watching crowd:
Disney: I love Disney sports films! I mean I love like Cool Runnings and grew up watching every Disney sports film…
Johnson: [laughs] I hope! I hope that this says “DISNEY’S INTRAMURAL” that’d be great, yeah. We should make like a mock logo that looks exactly like it, it’d be perfect.
Kocher: GOD WILLING we get confused with the Disney sports film because then it’ll make a lot of money!
You can check out our 4-star review of Intramural, here, and view the trailer below: