Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2000. Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Run It Up Productions Inc., Technical Black, Walt Disney Pictures. Screenplay by Gregory Allen Howard. Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman. Music by Trevor Rabin. Production Design by Deborah Evans. Costume Design by Judy L. Ruskin. Film Editing by Michael Tronick. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2000.
What do you get when you mix manipulative comedy-drama that plays its historical backdrop of racial intolerance in 1970s Virginia too broadly, with the slam-bang ridiculous action style of movies from the producing efforts of Jerry Bruckheimer? Not to mention an anti-airtight script that wanders around looking for a backbone? Thoroughly satisfying entertainment, is what I say! Sure, its intentions are obvious from the start (as is the playing out of its climactic ending), but for two hours Bruckheimer and director Boaz Yakin have you thoroughly enjoying all the talent involved in making a movie about how you gotta have heart to win, and all that jazz. Denzel Washington gives his first warmhearted performance as a true-life football coach assigned to a newly-integrated school who has enough troubles with trying to get his team to get along with each other, let alone win some games, let alone win a seasonal championship, let alone resist the volatile intolerance and bigotry that surrounds the school’s new political plateau. Despite its predictable nature the film truly is a deserving crowd-pleaser and features some young actors at the peak of their ensemble-hearted form, most notably Ryan Hurst as Team Captain Bertier, Kip Pardue as the native Californian who rocks the whole team, black and white, with his brand of hip, and the very funny Donald Faison as Petey, the guy who thinks (much to the coach’s detriment) that football is FUN. Hayden Panettiere is a scream as coach Will Patton‘s pint-sized daughter, who has her own ideas about how to run a real football team.