Folks, that may have been the mildest Texas summer I can remember. On average, we have about 16 days of 100+ degree heat and this year we had ….. wait for it …… 15! Okay, so maybe the statistics tell a different story but it sure seemed cooler, didn’t it? Because of that, I feel like I haven’t been taking the onset of fall as seriously as I usually do. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Honeycrisp apples, pumpkin spice lattes, and turkey . . . mmmmm!
And, of course, when I think about the fall, one of the first things to come to my mind is the return of football. Oh, it’s so wonderful to go to the grocery store when the Cowboy game is on! Drive through lines are shorter. Just don’t try to order a pizza!
I figured, why not watch some movies that remind me of my favorite things about fall. This month, we have two movies about football. But we’re going to do it with a bit of a twist. You see, I recently got in an argument with a buddy about football. She thinks it’s boring, brutish and stupid. She refused to watch a game with me so I challenged her to, at least, watch a few classic football movies and see if didn’t awaken at least an appreciation of the game. So my reviews this month will be a mix of my impressions and hers. Also, you’ll get my rating as a football fan and her rating as a football hater.
Draft Day (2014) [Rated R]
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I thought I had a real winner with this one. My friend is, for some unknown reason, a Kevin Costner fan. That’s good for a start, right? This sounded like it was going to be a movie more about the business of football than the game of football. That’s got to be a plus. Throw in a little Hollywood “Everything’s going to work out all right for the hero” and I was sure I picked a winner of a first football movie for my friend and I.
Was I ever wrong!
Now, I enjoyed Draft Day. It’s Kevin Costner doing his “Every Man” schtick that has made him millions. Costner plays NFL general manager Sonny Weaver Jr who is preparing for the draft. The movie takes place over the course of draft day and shows the pressures and madness that lead up to and follow those ten minutes on the clock when a decision has to be made about the first round of the draft. I did feel like the subplots with Jennifer Garner and Ellen Burstyn as Sonny’s girlfriend and mother were a little forced and just a tad bit hokey but overall I found it fascinating and pretty enjoyable.
My friend did not.
“This is just stupid. That can’t be how it happens in real life,” she said. Worse still, she found it boring. “At this point, I don’t care who they pick as long as they just get it over with already.” It was about this time that I started realizing the error of my ways. This wasn’t a movie for football novices. She didn’t care about the pressures of the draft and she amazingly didn’t care about Kevin Costner.
I had made a big miscalculation for the first movie. I knew I had to correct it with the second or she might never watch another sports-related movie with me again.
Me – 7 paws out of 10
Her – 3 stars out of 10
Any Given Sunday (1999) [R]
To being with, Any Given Sunday is an Oliver Stone movie that he made during what I consider to be his lost years. To that point, Stone had been making one movie a year. After Any Given Sunday, he didn’t make another one until 2003 and that was a documentary about Fidel Castro. I remembered seeing this years ago and knew that there were some questionable directorial flourishes. Super-imposed images of old football crowds cheering during tense football action sequences, random shots of eagles and thunderstorms, LL Cool J as a dramatic actor … I was nervous.
We started the movie and I noticed she was paying attention. A few minutes later, she was still into it.
“Interesting,” I thought. “So you are kinda into this, huh?”
“Yeah, this is way better than the last one!”
“Really? But this is so late 90’s,” I said.
To me, the whole movie just felt “old.” I could feel all fifteen years of progress and history as I watched the movie. Was 2 Unlimited’s “Twilight Zone” ever a cool song? Cool enough that it would go on a major motion picture soundtrack?
This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did. And I was pleasantly surprised when my friend got upset with me 82 minutes in when I paused the movie to make more popcorn. “Why would you stop it during such a tense scene?” “Wait, are you really into this?” I asked. Yes, friends, she had gotten sucked in and was enjoying a movie about football.
And what pulled her in, you ask? The performances. And most of all, Jamie Foxx. Yeah, I know.
Lastly, it’s hard not to at least like a movie that has Al Pacino saying, “Oh yeah, I know Trick Daddy. Sure.” Well, maybe “like” isn’t the right word. I don’t particularly like it but there’s something hard to deny about it. It’s fun. It’s ridiculous. And, look, Pacino’s good even if the script isn’t. Some of the directorial choices are incredible and some of them make you question whether Oliver Stone was entirely sober when he shot this. And yet, my buddy loved it.
“Best sports movie I’ve ever seen.”
“Really,” I asked? “Best ever?”
“Yep. Pacino was great but it was Jamie Foxx who really made the movie for me.”
Never in a million years, folks, did I ever expect to hear that. But I also can’t be totally surprised. And that’s what really sums up the movie for me. It’s not what you expect, but you won’t be totally surprised either.
Me – 6 paws out of 10
Her – 7.5 stars out of 10
So you’re wondering, did she watch an actual game after this experiment? Why yes, dear readers, she did! And the truth of her hatred for football finally came out. I had a couple of friends over, including her, to watch the Cowboys / Saints game. At first, she was busying herself getting snacks and chatting with folks but as the game went on, she got more and more into it. At half time, I mentioned that I needed to go get more sodas at the grocery store really quickly and asked if she wanted to go with me.
“Will we be back before the third quarter starts?” she asked.
“What? Who are you?” I replied.
“Well, it’s kind of fun when the Cowboys are winning,” she said.
Aha! Now it all makes sense! I blame this all on Jerry Jones!