Synopsis by Mark Deming
High spiritual ideals don't quite mesh with the spirit of competition in this sports comedy. In the 1920s, the leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints began encouraging their congregations to form basketball teams and church leagues as a way to promote fitness, wholesome fun, and teamwork among Mormon youth. However, the downside of this plan was the rise of wildly competitive teams who were a lot more interested in winning at all costs than good sportsmanship. In the 1970s, Bishop Linderman (Fred Willard) has been watching his Mud Lake basketball team get trounced in the Church League championships for nearly two decades, which doesn't sit well with him. Linderman used to be Mud Lake's coach before we was banned from the game for fighting, and with the team facing another losing season, he appoints a new man, Dennis Buckstead (Andrew Wilson), to lead Mud Lake on the court. When LDS elders announce that they're putting an end to church ball and the upcoming season will be the last, the pressure is on Buckstead to bring home a championship for Mud Lake's final season. But with a team comprised of myopic clerk Gene (Clint Howard), rotund Don (Chad Long), timid Thurman (Steve Anderson), half-pint car salesman Charles (Gary Coleman), short-tempered Mickey (Ross Brockley), and Borat (Sina Amedson), an immigrant who knows soccer far better than basketball, Buckstead's prospects are not very good. Not wanting to disappoint Linderman, Buckstead tries to recruit a pair of ringers for the Mud Lake team -- Moses Mahoney (Thurl Bailey), a seven-foot-tall prodigy who teaches sports to underprivileged kids, and Jeremiah Jones (Stan Ellsworth), a fierce player who may be just a bit too competitive. Church Ball was directed by Kurt Hale and released through Halestorm Entertainment, a leading producer of LDS-oriented films.
bishop, champion, church