Plot: Mike (Daniel Stern) loves the Boston Celtics and while he never achieved his dream of playing professional basketball, he remains a loyal fan and follows all kinds of odd rituals and superstitions to bring his team luck. His obsession with sports has caused him issues over the years, a failing marriage not the least of them, but he and his friend Jimmy (Dan Aykroyd) just can’t dampen their affection for the Celtics. The team is on the verge of a potential championship and given that this is the final season in the Boston Garden, a win would be historic. But ace player Lewis Scott (Damon Wayans) stands in the way of that championship and unless he is somehow neutralized, the Celtics will have a hard road ahead. Being the super fans they are, Mike and Jimmy formulate a plan to lessen Scott’s focus heading into the final game, but will things spiral out of control before the championship is won?
Entertainment Value: Celtic Pride is a middle of the road comedy, the kind of movie that you might stop to watch on cable, but likely wouldn’t need to have as part of your movie collection. The narrative is simple, as some obsessed fans kidnap the star player from the rival team, but the script tries to shoehorn in too much, weighing down what should be a light, fun picture. The slapstick humor that drives the movie is dampened by attempts to add heart and dramatic depth, such as the tedious sections about Mike’s marriage. This should have been a brisk, humorous movie about friendship with perhaps a lesson about moderation. Instead it feels bogged down at times, when it focuses on Mike and Jimmy, the movie works, but otherwise, it sinks fast. The finale is a total let down, a lot of nonsense that drags down the movie and ends the narrative on what amounts to a wet fart. But the cast is fun and when it sticks to slapstick humor, Celtic Pride is able to provide some entertainment.
As I said, when the movie just embraces the slight nature of the material, things so well and that is due in large part to the cast involved. Daniel Stern has a rare chance to lead and he is effective, in an abrasive, but somewhat likable role. He seems like a bitter ass of course, but that is because he is and the movie tries to evolve his character, through ineffective means. But for the most part, Stern is solid and he has good chemistry with Dan Aykroyd. I do think Aykroyd seems underused and outshines Stern at most turns, so I wish he had more to do than simple comic relief. Damon Wayans is passable, but lacks the charisma to pull off the egotistical Lewis Scott, so it feels like a sketch comedy take on the archetype instead. The cast also includes Gail O’Grady, Paul Guilfoyle, Jeff Ross, and of course, Celtic legend Larry Bird. In the end, Celtic Pride is inconsistent, but has some fun moments. If you’re a big fan of sports related comedies, then you could do worse than this one.