By Leah Rozen
January 25, 1999 12:00 PM

James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight

Jon Voight must be in clover these days. When a movie needs a strong second lead and Gene Hackman is too busy, too expensive or not quite right, Voight is getting the call (see review of The General on page 36) or, in this case, the ball. Although Varsity Blues is a routine high school football drama about a second-string quarterback (Van Der Beek, heartthrob of TV’s Dawson’s Creek) who comes in as a replacement and gets the touchdowns, Voight has a fine old time chewing gum and scenery as a tyrannical coach. There’s nothing subtle about his work here, but he keeps Blues’ youthful cast on its toes. Van Der Beek ably exudes both smarts and sensitivity, and Scott Caan (son of James) proves peppy as a mischievous fellow player. (R)

Bottom Line: Junior varsity is more like it