Everybody's All-American (1988)
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In a nutshell, it's about an ex-college football star who doesn't know what to do when his playing days are over and nobody is cheering him anymore.
To me, on the negative side were the melodramatic clichés of the typical (for movies) unhappy marriage (a Louisiana State University football star and its Homecoming Queen ), the standard (for movies) adulterous affairs, the normal (for movies) lectures about race and in particular, the South; the tale of real and not-so-real friends, the predictable getting-back together routine, blah, blah, blah. Add in some fake Southern accents, too.
On the more positive side, Dennis Quaid plays "Gavin Grey" of the title role. The story concentrates mostly on the downside of his life, picking up 20 years later when he's not so famous anymore and a life of gridiron fame never materialized after a promising start. The sad thing is, there are real-life stories like this, probably more than we know. So, I am not knocking the film for its story. Many college and professional athletes go into "the real world" unprepared, just as many beautiful Homecoming Queens are unprepared for life because their fabulous looks - not their personality or character - opened a lot doors for them.
"Grey" winding up telling old sports glory stories to drunks at a restaurant is the same as Jake LaMotta doing it in "Raging Bull" and "Rocky Balboa" doing the same in Sylvester Stallone's recent role.
Jessica Lange plays the ditzy Homecoming queen who bears four kids and then becomes a good businesswomen. She isn't the most faithful, loving wife. And, at 39 years of age when she made the film, a little too old to be playing a college kid.
Quaid and Lange, though, are fine in their performances, but supporting actors John Goodman and Timothy Hutton were the most interesting, in my humble opinion.
Overall, so-so as a sports-soap opera. It's not a film I have ever been interested in viewing a second time.
bomb when it was released in '88 but I consider it one of the best films in recent years and one of the best sports movies of all time.
Gavin Grey is a '50s LSU football star who has few interests or talents off the field. He's seen as a shallow. but basiclly decent, product of the 1950s south. He's under no illusion about the fleeting nature of his fame, and the movie avoided the usual cliche of protraying him as a bigoted simpleton or a sanctimonious do-gooder. It takes you through his pro career with the Redskins, a humiliating stint with the Denver Broncos when he's way past his prime, and the final heartbreaking episode with his 1955 teammates at LSU Tiger stadium. In the meantime wife Jessica Lange has found unknown talents as a businesswoman, adding to the pathos of Grey's status as a has-been. Dennis Quaid is superb as Grey, especially when showing him as a middle-aged ex-jock.
Everybdy's All American? Everybody connected with this project should be congratulated. I'd like to think that, someday, this film will get the credit it deserves.
Jessica Lange's performance is unparalleled (as usual). I would recommend this film to everyone.
I've always liked Dennis Quaid and thought his cockiness made the role of a self-centered football player come easy. Impressing is the fact he did some of his own stunts and separated a collar bone taking a solid hit on the field. He looked like a natural. For the stunning Lange, she seemed flawless as the cheerleader with only one thing on her mind...her idol the "Grey Ghost". Marriage matured her, but at fault lived sharing the glory surrounding a Louisiana favorite son. Goodman deserves more credit than he usually gets. How can you not like his bosom buddy character? Retired pro, semi-pro and top college athletes provided the realism on the playing field. You don't have to be a football fan to enjoy EVERYBODY'S ALL-American.
Going from the team's star player's girlfriend in college to a player's wife in the pros has an impact that I would not have imagined in this movie. I went to it the first time in the theaters expecting a jock movie. My significant other enjoyed it more than I did because it turned out to be as "chick-flick," (although this has become one of my favorites of all time).
A very well done drama that depicts the other side of football and how injury and the passing of time have their affect. On a scale of one to ten.. 8
Quaid doesn't really seem to be on his way to impressing in the beginning; Lange is stunning as always; we don't really know what to make of Hutton; and Goodman comes across immediately as that loose cannon on deck he was to play so well in The Great Lebowsky, albeit with more irony.
As time goes on these characters gain a third dimension and the actors behind them show their quality. Lange shines brighter and brighter, Hutton surprises as well, and what really amazes is how Mr. Meg Ryan can act! All of which points to there being a good director behind it all. That it is Taylor Hackford comes therefore as no surprise. Hats off to a great collaboration between the screen writers and the cast as well. How they made certain hard-to-play scenes work is magnificent.
Towards the end you begin to see what this movie is all about. Ebert says we never know if the movie is about Gavin or Babs. What a dumb comment from such a seasoned movie lover. No movie need be about one person, and this one is about a whole slew of people if anything, and ultimately is not about people at all. As the Russian choreographer was to have said, "Honey, if I could tell you that I wouldn't have had to write the ballet!"
Aside from the ending which seems a bit contrived ("we gotta end this thing!"), there are no cheap shots in this movie. If this had been a made-for-TV flick it would have been very bad. But it was not. Everyone both in front and behind the cameras gave their all to make a great movie.
Based on a novel by Frank DeFord, the die-hard football fan can see through that this film is based loosely on the life of Billy Cannon. Both Grey and Cannon's stories both seem eerily similar to each other. The film center around Gavin Grey, who plays for the LSU Tigers, leading their team to the 1956 Sugar Bowl Championship. Even though not once, LSU was ever mentioned, but Cannon played for that team at the time.
What makes this film enjoyable to watch is that the characters portrayed are both likable and well developed. Quaid shines as the star football running the "Gray Ghost" Gavin Grey. Lange is just adorable as Southern gal Babs. Timothy Hutton was at his very best as history professor Cake, John Goodman is believable as a football player who turns his life to gambling and Carl Lumbly puts in his performance as black football player who later becomes a business tycoon. It's always a great feeling deep inside to see such well developed characters and at the same time each and every one of them have a certain likeness that truly captures the spirit of this movie. By setting this film in the state of Louisiana, we realize that the South really loves their football. The look of the 1950's South captures a feel of nostalgia, though it's questionable if it was entirely accurate.
The biggest problem I had with "Everybody's All-American" was that the two best characters were not the leading stars (though they did well), but Prof. Cake (Hutton) and Lawrence (Goodman) were the best of the ensemble, but were sadly underused and I wanted to see more of them. And even though Ghost and Babs have good chemistry between each other, there are several holes between them that make for a gripping relationship. For instance, what does Babs really see in the Gray Ghost and vice versa? We are left clueless as to how and why they are attracted to one another. However, the romantic angle is still a joy to watch.
The fine ensemble cast carries the film splendidly, but falls short in terms of comprehension to what they're saying at times which could be due to the overdone technicalities of director Taylor Hackford.
Hackford's direction is the weakest link in this film. He's trying to hard to make this movie ultra serious but at the same time, the characters are also clichéd. With newsreels and archive footages they aren't put to good use and is taken way too seriously. You can clearly point out which of the scenes are staged and which ones are actual highlights making it all seem out of place. Even the die-hard football fan will be taken off by this sloppy mess Hackford made.
Overall in spite of it's flaws it is still an enjoyable film filled with plenty of football action and romance outside the gridiron.
One of my favorites.
Bonus Points: When Cake is standing on "Hallowed Ground" (then an empty lot, now a blockbuster)the sign behind him shows a construction project being planned for that spot. The building on the signs looks an awful lot like the Hilton (now Marriot) in Baton Rouge.
with the Broncos
they showed a clip of getting knocked out of bounds
by a Seattle Seahawk. Not quite sure but I believe that if he were to be knocked out of bounds
by a Seahawk he would have had to have a 21 year N.F.L.
career.Please correct me if i am wrong.
All in all though I like the scenes from all the football clips
they showed and that most of the players they showed were the real names of the players
It contains the following elements of American culture: football and the heroism bestowed on great athletes, a homecoming queen who lived only for her man saving herself for marriage(it was Louisana in the 60s), capitalism, the empowerment of blacks from the 60s through the 80s, the career woman becoming the head of the family (not typical of every American family, but a trend that was taking off in the 80s). Furthermore, it contains elements typical of American film: mass appeal and a plot which is rather simple, a happy cheesy ending, rekindled love, athlete's friendship/loyalty to one another, nauseating predictability, persevering the trials of marriage (marriages everywhere have trials and athletes have loyal friends everywhere, they are just the subject of American films a lot more often). In short, even its shortcomings are typically American.
I don't really know if the creative team that realized "Everybody's All-American" (even the title is Americana to an extreme) intended to make an intelligent film that takes elements unique to our culture to a near absurd extreme, or if I interpret the film this way because I pay closer attention to everything "American" than I used to. The beginning of the film is so cliché I can't help wonder if it is intentional: the homecoming game, the hero, his beautiful blonde girlfriend, his nerdy relative who has a crush on the girlfriend. There are two possibilities: either the creators of this film intended the film to be a reflection of American culture to be studied critically, or they produced a film that would have mass appeal because it contained all the elements that would attract an American audience.
The US is the single-most talked about/written about nation in the world. For me this film declares itself to be the quintessence of American culture in its title, and the storyline is right out of Norman Rockwell. I recommend this film not for its entertainment value, but for food for thought and analysis.