Remember The Titans

Joe's Preview Review: 

Denzel Washington as a coach trying to break the color barrier in the South through displaying the talents of the brave African American men on the football field. A decent looking dramatic preview, we'll see what the finished product comes out of it. 

Joe's Film Review: 

        Last year Denzel Washington had his best one of the performance of the year, and of his career in a story of racial injustice in The Hurricane. His Oscar winning performance in Glory was a story of racial injustice. If something's successful stick with it, right. The Hurricane was a very sappy movie but this movie is much sappier. In another civil rights time sappy biopic, 1971 to be exact, Denzel delivers a strong performance as a strict and stubborn coach who stands up for what he believes in and takes the first coaching job given to a black man when the Virginia school system has its integration.

        The story is very simple, and not the epitome of originality. A high school is forced to crush the color barrier, people are forced together, conflicts obviously develop. A product of the Jerry Bruckheimer style of story telling, very bland, very mainstream, very obvious. Not too much to think about, the please feel sorry for me for me kind of story. While I wasn't taken in by his two earlier productions this year, Coyote Ugly and Gone in 60 Seconds, this one got me hooked. The story wasn't the story here but it was a plethora of good acting by a group of young talented 20 somethings showing good performances in almost creatively anemic roles. Youngsters making the most of an opportunity. Something I like to see out of Hollywood.

        The most notable youths are the two team leaders Big Ju and Bertier, Wood Harris and Ryan Hurst. They are two opposing team leaders Ju for the blacks and Bertier as the All American linebacker representing the whites. Their relationship is key if the team is to succeed. Wood Harris is one of the finest young black actors I've seen in a while. His performance as the tough skinned Julius is invigorating and taken very seriously. He seems to be a real actor, one that can stand with the titans of the profession like Denzel Washington. Hurst is good, he's a moral boost for the movie. A character that makes the first steps for change, the first little piece of plastic in the team's domino effect of coming together.

        Director Boaz Yakin does the best he can with the shabby story. I did like the way that practice was focused on instead of actual games. The long training camp in which the team is formed and shaped, the hard work, the intensity, the need for a strong will and a hard work ethic. He integrates the beautiful background of Virginia to give his film a different feel from all the other football films. He does not succeed in all aspects of creating this different feel. Much of the film felt reminiscent of other high school sports movies such as Hoosiers and Varsity Blues.

        Just like there are two team leaders, there are two clashing coaches. Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) is a black coach brought in by force to replace the popular, successful white hall of fame Coach Yoast (Will Patton). Will Patton puts in one of those unappreciated supporting performances that strengthened the lead actor's performance. He makes Denzel work for it. Patton is a Bruckheimer favorite. He's had supporting roles in this film, Armageddon, and Gone in 60 Seconds. I will always remember his villainous role in the unfairly criticized flick, The Postman. He was a strong devilish character. The Postman was 150 times better than than Gibson's 3 hour stinker The Patriot. One day that film will get its due credit. 

        The one major complaint I had was it had one of those group sing-alongs that have been too common in films today. I feel like I just saw it, I know it was already way overdone in the Keanu Reeves comedy (that's what they call it, I don't agree) The Replacements. This time the team sings, and comes out for each game to the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Didn't they use that song for a sing along in Stepmom. Why would you ever copy anything that was done in that film. It was funny once, got a few chuckles the second time it was done, now it's just ridiculous. In this movie, it especially seems forced because when they come out dancing all the actors are out of sync and just look stupid.

        Freshman writer Gregory Allen Howard provides the perfect feel good, uplifting script with the necessary and obvious heroes needed in all Bruckheimer movies. His dialogue is not thought provoking but it's not too cliché. The characters are written well, and good even time is given to the players and the coaches even though the story is more of the coach's journey than the players. You get a feel for each of the spotlighted players, just enough to make you care and feel for their plight.

        Not a thought provoking film, but a emotionally rousing film. Same scenarios, same characters, same outcome. If you're in the mood for a sappy, heartwarming tale with some good performances than this is the movie to see.

Rating: 3 Stars out of 4
Reviewed by: Joe Soria
Running Time: 113 minutes
Rated PG for thematic elements and some language.

Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Wood harris, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee, Earl Poitier, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue, Greg Alan Williams
Directed by: Boaz Yakin (A Price Above Rubies)
Written by: Gregory Allen Howard

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