Boss of the Toss Image

Boss of the Toss

By Perry Norton | February 25, 2024

I came into writer-director Chris Harboldt’s Boss of the Toss completely oblivious to the sport of cornhole. Now that I am up to speed, I still struggle to believe it exists. Well, more to the point that it has spent a century defiantly sharing its name with well-worn slang for anal sex. You live and learn.

Invented in the 18th century as “parlor quoits,” cornhole is basically the game of horseshoes but played indoors with beanbags thrown into a hole in a raised board. It originally used corn kernel-filled bags, hence the name. You have to admire the game for not flinching when the term was appropriated. It soldiered on regardless, despite sounding like it should be provisioned by sex shops.

Boss of the Toss opens with our hero, Coolbreeze (Jon Heus), as he loses a tournament to the odious Destroyer, played with nicely douchey energy by sports announcer Jazz Securo. Destroyer makes good on his name, wrecking Coolbreeze’s relationship with girlfriend Ava (Angela Cole) during a match psych out. He then knocks him out of the tournament and onto his a*s. This is where Coolbreeze looks destined to stay, propped up by cheap weed and beer, pining for his lost love.

“…Coolbreeze rouses himself enough to enter a shady, backstreet cornhole tournament…”

However, a loan shark (Crissy Kolarik) comes to collect on a $10,000 debt run up by his “grief gambling” grandma (Mary Faktor). The shady money lender threatens to break her thumbs and put an end to her crocheting. “Not my thumbs,” grandma cries. “I need those for the hook stitch.” To effect her rescue, Coolbreeze rouses himself enough to enter a shady, backstreet cornhole tournament, asking Ava to become his trainer. She agrees, on the strict understanding that she is doing it purely for his grandma’s thumbs and that they won’t be getting back together again.

Boss of the Toss is a nice little half-hour film that knows a thing or two about humor. It reminded me of the Farrelly Brothers throughout. Heus is particularly good, radiating kindness and slouchy loser charm and hitting every comedic beat. But everyone in it is pretty funny. However, I found the announcer at the final tournament (Stefan Johnson) a bit off-beam, radiating ego when what we needed was a supplication to the rockstar talents of back street cornholing.

Harboldt has landed on his feet with this one. The script is fresh and plays well with sports movie cliches. The direction is expertly economical, carefully juicing his zesty cast, catching every last drop, and never intruding in showy or unwelcome ways. It’s scored by Eli Manos’s jaunty music, which nicely sets a comic tone. The editing by James Neyman stitches things together well, especially some of the more physical humor in the inevitable training montage.

When reviewing indie and short films, it’s an occupational hazard that you have to appraise pieces that are calling cards with little reason to exist bar ambition. This isn’t that. Harboldt and his troupe have a string of films under their belts already, and Boss of the Toss exhibits nothing more than a desire to be funny and to entertain. It does both handsomely.

Boss of the Toss (2023)

Directed and Written: Chris Harboldt

Starring: Jon Heus, Jazz Securo, Angela Cole, Mary Faktor, William I. Grossman, Crissy Kolarik, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Boss of the Toss Image

"…plays well with sports movie cliches."

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