‘Fantasy Football’ — Remember The Intended Audience

One of the most important things to remember when critiquing or analyzing a piece of media is to keep in mind its intended audience. It’s hard to go into any sort of story and give it a fair, unbiased, and objective review while having unfounded expectations; watching a romantic comedy and being mad that it wasn’t scary, for example. That’s not what it was meant to be, so stories should be judged and viewed on their overarching goals. And this helps a lot when looking at a film such as Nickelodeon’s Fantasy Football.

The movie has the wild-and-crazy premise of seeing an aging professional football player (Omari Hardwick) come under control of his daughter’s (Marsai Martin) video game. She is able to play John Madden Football as her father and whatever he does in the game he magically replicates in real life no matter how ridiculous or absurd. This wildness occurs after her game disc was struck by lightning(!) while the two of them were holding on to it.

The premise is completely absurd, but what’s more absurd is how the premise is executed. Lightning is a crazy vehicle to explain what is happening, but things really go off the rails when the girl starts performing absolute silliness in the game — such as outlandish dancing — and it starts happening on the real life football field. There was a chance that the movie could have tried to take a realistic approach to its concept, but it didn’t. If anything, it leans extremely hard into its childish antics and with good reason. Fantasy Football is first and foremost a kids’ movie. It was made to generate a slapstick laugh for children while also introducing them to the game of football. So even though there are tons of erroneous story developments within the film, when viewed through the lens of its intentions, it was an astounding success.

Fantasy Football is now streaming on Paramount+

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