Friday, January 12, 2007

Now Playing: Invincible

One thing we all know about the "inspirational sports film" is exactly how things will play out. Start to finish we know the hero will face adversity, join something he/she believes in, will find themselves beaten down some more, then will find a way to win when they need it the most thus inspiring not only themselves but also their friends and family.

Absolutely nothing is different about Invincible which is sort of the point. Either you dig flicks like this or you snear at 'em.

Personally, I look at them to see how well they use the formula and to its credit Invincible does an extremely good job at entertaining without preaching. This isn't the story of a young American hockey team standing up for US pride by defeating the fearsome Russians. It's about an average guy (Vince Papale) in Philly with above-average athletic ability who tried out for the Eagles on an "open call" figuring he had nothing to lose. Then a funny thing happened.

The new head coach, Dick Vermiel, asked Vince to join the Eagles on special teams. It's a heck of a story and considering today's NFL it's probably the last time something like this would happen. Since this is based on the real life Vince Papale who really was a part-time bartender in Philly during the extremely hard '70's, we know he's going to suffer before becoming a winner and suffer he does. In the behind the scenes material (which is a goldmine on the real Papale who consulted on the film), we learn that one of the NFL players mis-timed his hit on star Mark Wahlberg and the result was everyone behind the camera afraid he'd been killed. On screen, the hit looks bad but nothing serious however Wahlberg is rather slow getting up.

The best way I could describe Invincible would be to call it comfort food. You know what you're going to get, you know the beats start to finish, but it's still a fun ride made all the more enjoyable by a personable lead in Wahlberg and a solid turn by Greg Kinnear as coach Vermiel. There's nothing Oscar-worthy anywhere, but it's a fun movie that ends right as it seems to be gearing up.

Oh, and the final scene incorporates the actual play Papale made and seeing what actually happened, and Papale's reaction to it, make the movie all by itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment