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Sunday, August 27, 2006


Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli, Kirk Acevedo, Dov Davidoff, Michael Kelly

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Synopsis: When the coach (Greg Kinnear) of the beloved hometown football team hosts an unprecedented open tryout, the public consensus was that it was a waste of time -- no one good enough to play professional football was going to be found this way.

Certainly no one like Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a down-on-his-luck 30-year-old teacher and part-time bartender who never even played college football. But against these odds, Papale makes the team and lives every fan’s fantasy -- moving from his cheap seats in the stands to standing on the field as a professional football player.

Inspired by a true story.

Review: In the latest Disney true sports story, bartender Vince Papale (Wahlberg) tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles in open tryouts and wins a spot on the team. Even though all his loser friends keep telling him to stop trying, even after he’s made it, he must persevere. Imagine what would happen if he didn’t? There’d be no underdog. Noooooooo!

Disney did well making racism fun to overcome in Remember the Titans, making it cool to neglect your family in The Rookie and by making the most famous sporting event in Olympic history suspenseful in Miracle. Even the golf movie was awesome.

Now they’ve run out of ideas. Glory Road was racism again and Invincible is another average joe joining the team. Audiences are pretty forgiving of formula, but when you start getting into subcategories of knockoffs, it’s too much of a stretch.

The first go-round, you felt there was some heart in discovering these stories. Now they’re pandering so much it’s insulting. First of all, this is Disney’s version of losers. Vince has no work because he lost his teaching job, but he’s still bartending so he’s not a bum. His friends can’t find work either. There’s talk about a strike but strikers can take temp jobs. All they do is talk about being failures. We never see anyone failing because god forbid we might not like one of the characters.

So far, the only obstacle in Vince’s path are the losers badmouthing him. Is that really a great triumph? Yeah, tryouts are hard and the veteran athletes resent him, but dude, what else does he have to do? The Rookie had a family to support so it was a real dilemma. If you’re divorced, alone and jobless, and there are tryouts, and you make the cut, what’s the issue?


*Review by Fred Topel, CanMag - Movie Reviews

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