love

Author Topic: (American) Football  (Read 12138 times)

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #80 on: April 21, 2020, 08:31:16 AM »
Gridiron Gang (Phil Joanou, 2006)

I’ve played sports all my life, and the time I spent as a young person playing competitive team sports I think has a lot to do with many of the values I exhibit today. Now, obviously there are many factors that form us into the adults we become, including parentage, circumstance, education, etc. But I truly believe that sports participation, specifically team sports, teaches young people a lot about what it means to work together towards a common goal, it teaches a lot about sportsmanship and the noble competition. While everyone wants to win, will sacrifice mind and body to achieve that goal, the pursuit is often the most fulfilling, and just because the other team is working against you, doesn’t mean they are against you personally. They want the same thing you want, victory.

This “based on a true story” may seem like a cliche story to tell time and time again on the silver screen, but it’s just as inspiring and moving each time. Sean Porter (Dwayne Johnson) works at a juvenile detention center, mentoring and disciplining young men who have committed heinous crimes, often in participation of gangs. So when he sees the divide among the young men, he recommends the center start a football team to teach them teamwork. As a rag tag bunch of tough guys who don’t know how to work together, the program starts with its bumps, but Coach Porter is eventually able to harness their desire to be winners and turn them into a real team, capable of overcoming their differences to see their similarities.

I mentioned that this is a cliche story, and I truly mean it. We can all read a brief plot description and see where this is going, but it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s real, based on a true story, which makes it an inspiring journey to spend with these troubled young men, and it’s still moving and emotional to spend that journey with them, and see them through to the outcome. That there is nothing new here certainly holds the film back from being something special, new and different from what we may have seen before (re: Remember the Titans overcoming racism for instance), but that it hits all of the right notes for a story like this makes it a very watchable and enjoyable film within this genre.

As an early Dwayne Johnson vehicle, you can tell he is still transitioning into movie stardom, but this is also the perfect kind of vehicle for his persona. As a former football player (he even gets to don the 94 he wore at Miami here), he feels like he’d be a great coach, especially to the type of troubled teens we see here. He has the physical build to be intimidating even to gang bangers, even if he seems relatively small when compared to how we know Dwayne Johnson today. He’s still 6′ 5″ and swole. The rest of the cast is a group of unknown young actors and a bunch of “that guy”s, including Leon Rippy and Kevin Dunn as administrators and Xzibit from MTV’s “Pimp My Ride”. Xzibit especially, as the assistant coach, seems oddly placed given the character hardly utters two lines throughout the movie.

I was actually surprised Gridiron Gang worked as well as it did. I will admit I went into this viewing expecting a schlocky, overly sentimental and poor film about troubled teens. It was way more hard hitting than I expected, showing some depth of the troubles these men have seen and are going through. It toes the line between schlocky, sentimental and too hard-boiled for its own good. The balance struck here is surprising and effective and makes Gridiron Gang a good movie I would feel comfortable recommending as early Dwayne Johnson and decent, albeit predictable, football action.

★★★☆☆ – Liked It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #81 on: April 24, 2020, 07:35:32 AM »
We Are Marshall (McG, 2006)

The story of the Marshall football team is one that, while I cannot claim that “I know well”, is still one I feel most sports fans have heard about. Such a tragedy. And perhaps the further we get away from the event that occurred, fewer and fewer people know about it, or remember it. There really has not been much else like it in the sports world, where an entire team plane crashes, killing everybody on board. I cannot fathom the feelings of loss and sadness if that we to ever occur again. And we can sit here and say that Marshall was a D-II school, not a powerhouse, etc. etc., but those were still young men and their coaches, fans, and boosters who perished. It is a tragedy any way you cut it. But imagine the story today if the Alabama team plane crashed for instance. Or for that matter, if some rural D-III school experienced the same hurt. In a time when sports are so important to so many, I think any tragedy on this scale would once again open the wound that cut so deep for so many when Marshall lost their football team.

While the loss of Marshall is at the heart of this film, the story follows what happened in the aftermath. After the tragic plane crash that claimed all but 4 varsity players on the Marshall Thundering Herd football team, injured players who stayed behind in Huntington, West Virginia, the school administration was ready to cancel the football program. But Nate Ruffin (Anthony Mackie), one of those surviving players, fought with all he could to rally the town in support, to honor the fallen by continuing to play. They convinced the school president (David Strathairn) and the top booster (Ian McShane), who had lost his son in the crash. With nothing to build from, they turned to an unwanted football coach (Matthew McConaughey) who came to them for the job, and convinced the one coach (Matthew Fox) who survived to return and rebuild the program from the ashes. It wasn’t about winning, it was about playing.

There is a great deal I could talk about in regards to this movie, but most of all I think it does the story justice, and rallies around the true life story of a town and university struck by tragedy, somehow picking themselves up and out of the doldrums and honoring those they lost by returning to the gridiron. There is a moment late in the film where McConaughey explains this to Matthew Fox’s character, who is doubting their motivations and intentions to bring football back. Usually in sports, winning is all that matters, but a year after the tragedy, it isn’t about winning, it’s about keeping playing, so those in decades to come can worry about winning. Marshall’s story is truly remarkable, as they once again rose to prominence long after the tragedy. The filmmakers honor the story and do it justice with the impact it had on the Huntington and Marshall community.

I think that is evidenced by the rather impressive cast they assemble for the film. Strathairn and McShane are veteran stars who bring the film a certain cache, while getting young up and comers like January Jones, Kate Mara and especially Anthony Mackie goes to show the care they took in casting. And the ensemble is very good throughout. The exception is McConaughey, who, while bearing great star power then and especially now, feels like he belongs in a different movie. It very well could be that coach Lengyel was like this, and his performance is true to life, but he stands out so much like a sore thumb in conjunction to the rest of the movie. And it isn’t even that he isn’t grieving like the rest, it’s simply because he is hamming it up big time. The film needs some lightness, but McConaughey’s lightness is the wrong kind and throws everything off.

Luckily, the rest is plenty strong enough to sustain it. While McConaughey’s performance is definitely a distraction, director McG is able to focus on all the right characters and storylines to make this an effective emotional experience about what sports can mean to a town, and how it brings people together in both times of tragedy and triumph. It manages to nail that connection to the sport, which is something that might seem easy, but many films in the marathon can only mimic. With We Are Marshall it feels very genuine. The truly tragic and emotional true story at its core brings out the best in this movie. It’s not a story that the filmmakers take lightly, and that shines through. We Are Marshall is a good love letter to those that passed, as well as those who picked up the program from the ashes.

★★★☆☆ – Liked It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #82 on: April 24, 2020, 11:18:45 AM »
Draft Day (Ivan Reitman, 2014)

There’s a lot to talk about here as a huge fan of the NFL Draft. I know I’m just getting back into my football movie marathon, and watching this is out of order of where I was, but it just felt right to keep up my very short, but beloved tradition of watching Draft Day just before the actual NFL Draft each April. So I am making a rare exception for my marathon watching order in getting to this one out of chronological order. But it is with good reason, and I hope this can coincide nicely with the very first ever virtual Draft. I have lots of thoughts, but while Draft Day is an extremely flawed movie, I can’t help but return to it every year to consume the draft in another way. And yes, this is a more than obvious schill from the NFL to sponsor and help promote their own product. I don’t care. It’s so entertaining!

Sonny (Kevin Costner) is the General Manager for the long struggling Cleveland Browns. As the day of the NFL draft begins, he has to contend with not only his owner (Frank Langella), who hopes he can make a “splash” with their pick, but also the cocky new head coach (Denis Leary) who hopes Sonny can provide him the players he needs to win; his head of payroll (Jennifer Garner), with whom he’s been sleeping and just revealed she’s pregnant; his mother (Ellen Burstyn) who, with Sonny, is mourning the loss of her husband, Sonny’s father, who is the legendary former head coach of the team; and the various prospects (Chadwick Boseman, Arian Foster, Josh Pence) who he is discussing selecting with his first round pick.

I’ve come back to this film time and again and I guess it’s just kind of a perfect blending of two of my interests (NFL Draft and movies) as well as starring a few of my favorite performers (Jennifer Garner and Kevin Costner). Now, before we delve into the mechanics of this film from a draft perspective (don’t you worry, we will investigate this in detail), I do want to comment on all the dramatic machinations on display as well. Let’s start with Kevin Costner, king of the sports movie. He is terrible in this film. Just so disconnected from the character and really rough around the edges. Sonny is not fully formed because of his performance, which is seriously lacking the charisma and buy-in I’ve loved him for in previous sports movies. He is sleepwalking his way to a paycheck here. But the plotting of everything I think is good on paper. The loss of his father, the pressures from the owner and head coach, dealing with the news he’s going to be a father. It’s a lot, and maybe a little too much, but it all adds into Sonny’s tumultuous day. But I said on paper because, again, Costner doesn’t deliver, especially performing opposite Garner, who is once again a delight.

So let’s get into the draft, and apologies if you’re not a football fan and don’t care about the draft, but I’m going to geek out a little bit here because it’s important to how the film works for those of us who follow it closely. Before I get into it though, let me say that the way all the trading and dealing and mind games are positioned, I think should work fairly well for the uninformed. It hits a lot of the right notes with the inner workings so far as I know. What it doesn’t get right are the picks and the positioning. So let’s recap…SPOILERS AHEAD…

The Browns start the day with the 7th overall pick, where many believe Sonny could take either LB Vontae Mack (Boseman), or RB Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), whose father played for the Browns. Let’s start here because in 2020, anyone would tell you that linebackers and running backs are RARELY valued as top 10 picks. Positions like QB, EDGE rusher, CB, and OT are often the hardest to get elite talent and therefore the most often top 10 pick types. RBs and LBs often fall in the draft, unless they are true “generational talents”. By all accounts, neither of these players are, as great as they portend them to be. But ultimately, let’s leave this lie as not that egregious. So mid morning, Sonny decides to trade three straight years of First Round picks for the first pick overall. This is a desperate trade, to be sure, but this even isn’t that bad considering the promise of the “generational talent” of QB Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), the presumed top pick. Okay, Sonny gave away a lot, but now the Browns have their QB of the future, even if they have a average to above average player at the position already in Brian Drew (Tom Welling).

But Sonny doesn’t take Bo Callahan because his teammates didn’t go to his birthday party. This is petty and ridiculous and completely insane, but also overblown because it’s basically proven that he has a bad attitude and doesn’t respond well to opposition, so he likely is a true bust. Also, “Vontae Mack no matter what”. So now Sonny makes his first EGREGIOUS mistake. 1. He takes a player at #1 he could have gotten at #7, giving up two additional years of first round picks to do it. 2. A LB at #1 is a positional value disaster! But something funny happens, Bo Callahan, golden boy, begins to fall in the draft to the point where Seattle, the team Sonny traded for the #1 pick with, might get him at #7! A disaster!

But Sonny swoopes in to correct his mistake by convincing Jacksonville at #6 to trade him the pick for three years of second round picks. So the offer, I think is generally fair (if a generational talent QB wasn’t still on the board, which we know he isn’t). By trading back ahead of Seattle, he can now hold them hostage for the player they want, but getting all their first round pick back, AND a return specialist in David Putney. Seattle gets their stud QB, saving $7 million, and only gives up Putney in return. So about this trade, it’s obviously great for the Browns, but what about the Seahawks? Well, they gave up three first round picks and a special teamer to move up one spot, which is outrageous! But essentially the end result from where they started is they get who they wanted at #1, but with a discount and losing a low value special teamer. So optics should be fine, but the actual trade is trash. Not to mention, do they really think the Browns would take Callahan in front of them if they passed on him at #1?

So the Seahawks get Callahan, and that means RB Ray Jennings lands in the Browns lap again at #7, ending their whirlwind first round draft with a haul of players to get them to the promised land with their average to above average QB Brian Drew. So at this point we’re meant to think Sonny is some kind of mad genius, when in reality he’s just mad. At no point did he know what he was doing. He got lucky it turned out right. I have zero belief that at any time he mad some kind of master plan, other than “Vontae Mack no matter what”.

So a full recap: Browns end up with Vontae Mack, Ray Jennings, and David Putney, while giving up three years of Second Round picks to Jacksonville (don’t forget about those). They could have gotten Mack or Jennings with their original pick, so they trade three second round picks for a good RB and a special teamer, which when accounting for the lower positional value of RB (and special teams for that matter), is probably about right in terms of value. So he didn’t “rob” the draft, or “win” the draft. No, what Sonny did was simply manage to unbury himself after making the horrible, horrible, horrible mistake of trading three first round picks only to take a LB at #1. But congrats dude, you’re going to be a father.

So yes, this movie is flawed. But damn if I don’t love watching it!

★★★★☆ – Loved It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26118
    • smirnoff's Top 100
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #83 on: April 27, 2020, 06:30:44 PM »
And the Browns just keep on being the Browns. I remember the movie being pretty entertaining as well. :)

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #84 on: April 28, 2020, 08:00:00 AM »
And the Browns just keep on being the Browns. I remember the movie being pretty entertaining as well. :)

For sure, they probably went 7-9 after this draft. Great for them! haha
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Eric/E.T.

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 3781
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #85 on: April 28, 2020, 08:06:50 AM »
I was going to high school in the Cleveland area when the Browns came back. Corndog might know this reference, I don't know, but I remember the countdown until their return at the Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland. All the excitement, drafting Tim Couch, and then...reality. I want them to win a Super Bowl, though, some day, I think their fans deserve that.
Just because a person has never walked in my shoes, that doesn’t mean they can’t gravitate to the art. - Mach-Hommy

A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #86 on: April 28, 2020, 08:29:25 AM »
I sorta remember that, but I'm down the road in Columbus. As a Steelers fan, I usually revel in their horribleness. But I admit that part of me wants to see them at least succeed and have a winning season at some point. A lot of my friends are either Browns fans or Bengals fans. Their struggles have been tremendous, and I feel for them. At least we all have Ohio State lol!
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #87 on: April 28, 2020, 08:30:37 AM »
The Game Plan (Andy Fickman, 2007)

The Disney engine strikes again with an early Dwayne Johnson vehicle. Strikes again? Strikes again how? Disney offerings have been a mixed bag thus far, and that mix continues with 2007’s The Game Plan. Remember the Titans was a little cheesy, but really entertaining and carried by Denzel Washington’s central performance. Invincible was a little more mediocre with little to do, say or excite. Standard underdog fare. So getting to The Game Plan, I think we’ve found the worst of the Disney offerings. But what might be the most bizarre thing about this film is the jarring change of direction for Dwayne Johnson from the rough and realistic Gridiron Gang to the sugary, slapstick of this film. It is hard to separate the films from each other in my mind, which makes the experience all the more trippy.

Joe Kingman (Dwayne Johnson) is the star quarterback for the Boston Rebels. A big, physical player who has a knack for putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory. But his one weak point is playoff results. He has failed to secure that elusive championship. He loves himself and living that bachelor life, that is until the daughter he never knew he had (Madison Pettis) shows up at his door, claiming his mother dropped her off for Joe to watch for a month while she went to Africa for work. Joe begrudgingly forms a relationship with the little girl, taking her to ballet, despite the change in lifestyle. Soon, Joe finds that having a daughter means more to him than anything, as the Rebels march toward that elusive championship.

Let’s start with Dwayne Johnson, because he has become a major movie star since this film. He is definitely playing against character here in a silly, childish, and quite frankly dumb movie. But he plays it well due to his undeniable charisma. But the character of Joe Kingman is a little odd. Dwayne Johnson as a QB? Well, I guess he’s just sorta the Cam Newton of his era, even donning the #1 (with the cheesy #1 on the field, #1 in your heart moniker), so I’ll let the casting pass. But regardless, Johnson is not your traditional QB type for 2007. Kingman as a character is super annoying, self centered, and I know that’s the point. Quite frankly, the storyline reminded me a whole lot of Mr 3000, the Bernie Mac film from 2004, even going so far as to also cast Brian White in a supporting role. There are definite similarities between Kingman and Stan Ross in their egotistical journeys to understand teamwork.

The problem? Mr 3000 is a more entertaining film. Perhaps that is my baseball bias talking, but I struggled to enjoy this film. I think that is because I don’t know who the audience is supposed to be. It’s a kids movie, with plenty of silly, slapstick humor about Johnson doing ballet and the kid wrecking havoc on Kingman’s bachelor pad. The first two-thirds of this film are, quite frankly, just dumb and very hard to watch. The combination of the type of humor and story line with the makings of a football movie, who is supposed to like this? Kids, I suppose, but the selfish football player at the center? Is this fodder to entertain the parents? I’m sure there’s an audience out there, but the screenplay just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

But I didn’t mention the final third of the film, which miraculously works? Look, it doesn’t completely work, but I was certainly surprised at the emotions it was able to pull and hit hard in the final third. There is a well handed twist that I didn’t see coming and there is genuine bonding between Kingman and Peyton, his daughter. I think much of this can be attributed to Dwayne Johnson and his ability to connect with audiences with his screen presence and charisma. But it was definitely a far cry from Gridiron Gang from the year before. Despite the surprising effectiveness of the final third, I would never in a million years have the desire to revisit this film. Not for me.

★★☆☆☆ – Didn't Like It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Eric/E.T.

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 3781
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #88 on: April 28, 2020, 08:48:50 AM »
I sorta remember that, but I'm down the road in Columbus. As a Steelers fan, I usually revel in their horribleness. But I admit that part of me wants to see them at least succeed and have a winning season at some point. A lot of my friends are either Browns fans or Bengals fans. Their struggles have been tremendous, and I feel for them. At least we all have Ohio State lol!

Oh don't even go there...
Just because a person has never walked in my shoes, that doesn’t mean they can’t gravitate to the art. - Mach-Hommy

A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

Corndog

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17025
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: (American) Football
« Reply #89 on: April 28, 2020, 11:18:05 AM »
Leatherheads (George Clooney, 2008)

One of the things I’ve noted about this marathon, was the lack of old-timey football. Sure, the were a few early films which highlighted the “contemporary” game, but few have returned to that time to explore the early days of American Football, its stars and popularity within the culture, especially as it conflicts with the immense popularity of baseball in the first half of the century. So especially to pair this time period of the game with the slapstick comedic stylings and sensibilities of George Clooney, who also directs, seems to be the perfect marriage. But what transpires, charming and funny as it might be, lacks the edge and touch of perfection that I think comes with Clooney’s collaborations with Joel & Ethan Coen. And that makes me sad, to think, what would a Coen brothers sports movie look like!?

Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) and Carter Rutherford (John Krasinki) are at odds when it comes to their football notoriety. Dodge is an aging player on the Duluth Bulldogs, a pro team that relies on not following rules to win games, and very gimmicky gameplay to draw the few fans they can to pay the bills. Carter on the other hand is the famous Princeton college player, darling of America, who has also returned from World War I a war hero. The two are intertwined when Dodge comes to Carter to turn pro and save the professional game, while Chicago reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) begins to dig into the truth of Carter’s war story, while also wooing both men, causing a problematic love triangle.

The first half of this film is everything I wanted it to be. It has comedy, it has old timey football, it has interesting characters coming together to form an intriguing plot. The leads here are all quite good. Clooney is charming and sly as ever as Dodge as he attempts to position things just so for his childish pursuits to remain intact (playing football for a living), and Zellweger I was also extremely impressed by. They all seem to be playing to a certain old timey feel, giving the film the feel of an early era screwball comedy. Krasinski might be the only weak link. You can tell he is still very young and inexperienced, but you can also pick up on his charm and charisma. He plays the nice guy extremely well.

But ultimately, I ended up let down by the resolution of the film. As everything built and built and built, I wanted more when the ending came fairly flat. Perhaps the historian in me wanted more detail on the early game, the development from college to pro, the development of certain styles of play. For a football movie, the football aspects were covered mostly in the first thirty minutes, shifting to romantic comedy from there on out. As Carter’s story mirror’s so much of Red Grange, the famed Galloping Ghost who starred at Illinois before making the shocking transition to pro ball for the Chicago Bears, I wanted more from Carter’s impact on the game, his impact on legitimizing the pro game when college dominated the culture.

Because the film becomes a standard rom-com for the second half, it loses any steam it had built to that point. I almost don’t blame it. I mean Clooney, Zellweger and Krasinski in a love triangle screwball rom-com sounds like cinematic gold, but the writing lacks so much of what is necessary to knock this one out of the park, which brings me back to my original thought: the Coens. What does this film look like written/directed by the Coens? I certainly can’t dock the film for not being something else, but that dream merely highlights the deficiencies here. It’s fine for some mindless fun, and a unique look at the game of football, but count me as disappointed overall.

★★☆☆☆ – Didn't Like It
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

 

love