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By Mark Bell | July 22, 2013

The Ruckland University Rugby Team is being dissolved, and team captain Glen (Lars Lee) is out to save it. Sure, his team parties hard and has a questionable reputation around campus, but is that enough to get the team eliminated by evil Athletic Director Dickerson (Timothy J. Cox)? With time running out before the hearing on the team’s fate, Glen tries to cope with his insane roommate Ray (Trevor Williams), recover from his recent break-up with girlfriend Whitney (Alexandra Bartley) and figure out what to do to make sure that Ruckland U’s rugby team can live to scrum another day.

We Just Want To Play shows that the filmmakers involved know how to craft an idea along the same narrative structure of an Animal House or PCU (with some added athletic underdog bits of Meatballs or Dodgeball thrown in for good measure), but can’t execute it in a way that makes their film a worthy imitation. The pieces are all there: rowdy, rebellious students looked down on by their stuffy and stuck-up rivals, a collegiate establishment out to punish these rebellious cads and an underdog attempt at redemption in the face of unfair persecution. It has obviously worked in many other films, enough so that the formula is as obvious as it is, so why doesn’t it work here?

Mainly because you just don’t care about anyone on screen. It is so formulaic, you’re only really paying attention to Glen, for example, because he’s the one narrating. The dramatic stakes are low (it’s not like anyone is getting expelled, their rugby team is just being dissolved), the overall logic is strained and the attempts at laughs are weak at best. The bones for a crazy college underdog comedy full of hilarious hijinks are there, but the meat is lacking proper flavor.

All that said, the acting is fine, even though the characters aren’t given much character to work with. It’s a student film, out of Quinnipiac University, and while it looks and sounds like its resources were limited, there actually aren’t many technical hiccups. The audio mix, including the work with the soundtrack, is far better than average for similar fare. This one falls apart almost entirely on narrative, the rest of the components are actually pretty competent.

The best thing that can be said for We Just Want To Play is that at least it’s short (though even under twenty minutes, it still feels long). While the filmmakers didn’t achieve a positive result with the film, the knowledge of the narrative formula and the structure to make a film like this shows that at least there was more going on here than turning a camera on and acting silly. The technical proficiency in other areas of production also backs that sentiment up. It didn’t work for me overall, but I can understand what was being attempted, and filmmaking skills are present, if needing more time and experience.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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