Spiker (1985) — The life and times of a hapless Olympic volleyball team

“Have you ever tried sticking a rabbit’s foot up your…?”

Justin’s rating: Point… taken.

Justin’s review: The ’80s certainly loved itself some sports movie, but after all of the good ones were snapped up, junior movies were left picking through the undesirables. I don’t know what kind of lottery that director Roger Tilton and the crew lost, but it put them on the path of “men’s Olympic volleyball.” Which is, after women’s volleyball, battle volleyball, and DOA beach volleyball, the least desirable version of that sport.

So welcome to Spiker, a thoroughly unimpressive movie about men’s volleyball as a wanna-be team works up the confidence and skills to engage in a whole bunch of filler scenes and training montages. You’d hope that, at the very least, this flick would try to give us some fun-loving 1980s antics and colorful characters. Instead, it plays everything straight, boring, and matter-of-fact. If you turned the TV on to ESPN-8 (“The Ocho”) you’d probably get the same experience.

The greatest hero that Spiker gives us is Sonny (Stephen W. Burns), who is a happy doofus that lives to frustrate his overly stern coach. Said coach spends his entire movie’s run looking disappointed — disappointed in his own team, disappointed in his progress, disappointed in the audience for watching this movie. Every scene he’s in, I expect him to jump over the desk and open a closet door into the Cobra Dojo where he trains his private army of psychopathic karate kids.

So the big tension is between an always-angry coach and an always-idiotic player, and you sense that the filmmakers knew that they had messed up big on the plot about 20 minutes into this but had to keep on going anyway. Reshoots are expensive, you know?

Between all of this hard-hitting drama, the Olympic team goes through a lot of practice games and dull escapades. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten into a movie experience where there’s absolutely nothing in it for you, so you start fishing around for something — anything — that might keep your mind occupied until the end credits. Spiker may be unique in the fact that it has no alterative here for you. The performances aren’t bad enough to be enjoyable, the sound design is so muddled that you keep tuning it out, and the coach never, ever explains why he looks like a hedgehog has set up shop in his briefs.

Spiker dives and never recovers. But with men’s volleyball, what’d you expect?

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