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Tony D'Amato(Al Pacino) is the head coach of the Miami Sharks who are
owned by the Christina Pagniacci(Cameron Diaz) who is using the Miami
Franchise only for profit. Trouble stirs up after long time star
quarterback Cap Rooney(Dennis Quaid)is injured along with his back up
bringing in third string quarterback Willie Beamen(Jamie Foxx) who
becomes the face of the franchise after having great game after great
game. The only problem is that he plays only with his head and not with
his heart, with an aging team that needs an emotional leader to guide
them to victory. Also Starring: James Woods, Matthew Modine, LL Cool J,
Bill Bellemy, Lawrence Taylor, Charelton Heston, Aaron Eckhart, and
John C. McGinley.
In a cinema that rarely produces pro football movies, this is the cream of the crop. It captures the reality along with the heroic story of a nobody rising to the top. The movie is humorous, dramatic, and a thriller for all sports fans.
This is not only one of Oliver Stone's best films but this is also the start of Jamie Foxx's "good" acting career. Forget what the critics said about Collateral or Ray being the beginning for Jamie Foxx. It was Any Given Sunday. Willie Beaman is a complex character and Foxx nailed the part. He was magnificent. He played the part to perfection and out shined the great Al Pacino. The supporting cast was also incredible with great performances from Cameron Diaz, LL Cool J, James Woods, and surprisingly John C. McGinley. It is very rare to find a great dramatic football movie but this is definitely one those small few.
Overall, this is one of the greatest sports movies of all time and it is highly enjoyable for adult audiences.
I highly recommend this movie.
Oliver Stone is one of the most, if not THE most, passionate filmmakers
working today. He's also a talented filmmaker, which a lot of people seem
to forget. When both his talent and passion are at full strength, the
results are impressive(SALVADOR, PLATOON, JFK, NIXON). When the passion is
still there, but the talent is tripped up by his passion and ambitions, he
makes flawed movies which are still powerful(WALL STREET, TALK RADIO, BORN
ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, HEAVEN AND EARTH). But when he goes outside of his
passions, for either experiments(NATURAL BORN KILLERS), or to make
"mainstream" movies(U-TURN), he misses wide. NATURAL BORN KILLERS, to me,
was a worse film, but U-TURN was, in a way, even more dispiriting, because
the former you could at least excuse as an experiment gone wrong, whereas
the latter screamed "Cash-in!" You felt after watching Stone was too tired
to fight anymore.
Well, as ANY GIVEN SUNDAY proves, Stone, like his on-screen alter-ego, Tony D'Amato(Al Pacino), may look tired, but he's still got fight left in him. Many have seen football as war, so it's appropriate Stone has long wanted to make a movie about football. And as Spike Lee did with HE GOT GAME, Stone wants us to see not only the glory of the actual playing(as well as how tough it is to earn that glory), but also the corrupt forces which are pervading it today. After all, we decry flashy players, and then complain about those who are too boring, we talk about tradition out of one side of our mouth and demand the game be updated out of the other side, we call white players who exhibit boorish behavior "colorful" while calling black players who exhibit similar behavior "punks"(and that's putting it mildly), we complain about players who are overpaid while thinking nothing of owners who spend lavishly on themselves and move teams around, we complain about football being too dominated by TV yet sit around like couch potatoes every Sunday and Monday night, we react with horror when players get hurt badly and get addicted to drugs, yet we yell at them to murder each other on the field and call those who don't chicken(to put it mildly), and so on.
This is a wide canvas to cover, and yet Stone does a pretty good job of it. Especially good is how the relationship between D'Amato and his new quarterback Willie Beamon(Jamie Foxx) encompasses a lot of that canvas. There are two scenes in particular which stand out; one where D'Amato sits with Willie on the plane and tries to talk to him, but can't think of anything which doesn't sound patronizing from Willie's point of view(like music, where D'Amato thinks the fact he's mentioning black jazz musicians is supposed to mean something), and the scene at D'Amato's house, where Beamon talks of how, in the past, "playing for the team" was code for "Know your place, boy," and have things really changed? Willie has to learn that playing for the team really does mean, as quarterback, getting them to respect you so they'll play for you, and Tony has to learn that tradition can't be stodgy, that it has to accept change.
Stone is less sure in other aspects. Cameron Diaz does a good job as the team's owner, but her character is a little too one-dimensional at times. It would have been more interesting to have here not just talk in terms of money, but that the game, to her, really is more interesting the way Willie plays it(maybe I'm biased, but I'm a fan of more pass-oriented games). And while I don't think Stone is as misogynist as he's been charged with in the past, certainly it's evident here. It's one thing to say there are groupies in football, it's another thing to delight in showing them. There are sympathetic woman here, particularly Ann-Margaret as Diaz's mother, who shows what being a football wife costs, and Lela Rochon as Willie's girlfriend, who is unwilling to have that happen to her(the scene at the party, where she feels both isolated from Willie and the other wives, is nicely drawn). Finally, Stone can't resist the ROCKY-type cliches near the end.
But though it's flawed, there's still a lot of power here. Except for Lauren Holly, who I'm not a big fan of, the acting is all around excellent, particularly Foxx. I was particularly impressed with how well the athletes did as actors, particularly Jim Brown(though he's an actor, so this isn't surprising) and Lawrence Taylor. And, of course, all the football scenes are terrific and feel real. It's always good when you see on screen what you can't see watching the game on TV, and Stone accomplishes that here. Call it not quite a touchdown, but a film which convinces us Stone still has fight left in him.
Sports movies are tough to make. Creating the essence of the actual event
is the toughest. Most films fall short in the editing process of the event
or through sheer carelessness and lack of knowledge. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is
somewhat of an exception. It is hard-hitting and bloody like NORTH DALLAS
FORTY. It is actually conventional when you think about it, like a warped
RUDY. It is a hell of a lot more realistic than say, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS.
These are all football films with varying degrees of success (except
ROUGHNESS), but Oliver Stone, in his usual over the top way, throws a
dizzying, mind-splitting film at us, much like the sport itself. This is
why I liked it.
Oliver Stone began a wicked spell of filmmaking with JFK, evident in its editing style. Fast-paced, black and white mixed with color, documentary-like methods ensued in NATURAL BORN KILLERS, NIXON, and the ghastly U-TURN. Nothing is new here with ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. Football is a battlefield Stone chooses to depict and depict it he does. Even the most ardent fans of the sport do not really know what it is like for a quarterback to drop back and get rid of a piece of pigskin before 11 players maul him. You certainly get the idea watching this.
Al Pacino is the dried up head coach of the fictional Miami Sharks and he barks out the usual coaching cliches you hear in press conferences after real games. Pacino also seems to be sleep-walking through the picture. At times, he appears drunk even when he is not supposed to be. Cameron Diaz's character, a young chick owner, (yeah right) destroys any credibility the film may have had going in (Even the NFL would have nothing to do with this movie). Her constant bickering is so over-done, you almost feel like hurling much the way Jamie Foxx does every time he enters a game as the team's 3rd string quarterback. Realisticly speaking, this is not a very sane film about football. It is a maniacal celebration of the game. The scenes on the field are the ones I cherished. Beware of the locker room or domestic sequences.
No one has ever put such energy into football scenes in a film before. He definitely had some good consultants. There are some comical cameos - Johnny Unitas and Dick Butkus play opposing coaches. Lawrence Taylor can actually act a teeny bit and Jim Brown shares the film's best off the field scene with Pacino in a bar. Stone tries to show us how the game has changed. He resonates past glory with quotes from Lombardi, dissolves showing Red "the Galloping Ghost" Grange, and even Unitas handing off to Ameche. TV has changed everything, says the coach, and he is right. It seems to be all about the money nowadays.
That is the message, but you'll find yourself losing that idea in the lunacy of ANY GIVEN SUNDAY and the bone-crushing, ear-damaging football scenes. They are filmed and cut with such raw intensity, you feel like playing afterwards. This is definitely a film for football fans only unless you like big, sweaty men. Is there a big game at the end that needs to be won? Yes, and this surprised me considering how unconventional Stone usually is. Basically, surrender your senses and thought process to Stone's most entertaining film in quite some time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems that many people dislike this movie and I can see why. First
of all it shows that professional athletes are far away from being
perfect. A lot farther than we would like to believe. The movie shows
that many athletes as we know are just out their for the money. It also
shows the corruption in the owners and politicians. But for me, all of
this is good thing. I like seeing a movie that does not include glory
Another aspect of the movie was the cast. I thought the cast that was put together was very well put together. I was especially surprised at the performance of Cameron Diaz. I thought she played very well as the viscous and corrupt owner. Specifically in the part were she black-mails the mayor into giving the team money for a new stadium. Jamie Foxx also gave a very well played performance as the new upcoming quarterback. His role shows that he has become sick with fame and fortune and has seem to forgotten who helped to reach his superstar status. For example when he ignores most of the plays called in and decides to run the game the way he wants to. He reaches as point were he just flat out ignores everyone. For example he says: "I'm trying to win coach. I ain't trying to disrespect nobody, but winning is the only thing I respect." I think Oliver Stone shows that this is the problem we have in our society, that everything is about winning. His relationship falls apart with his girlfriend and seems to believe that their is nothing that could stop him. He almost reaches a point were he believes he is like a god. But, he realizes he needs a wakeup call or he will end up like the some of the people around him. I liked the way Dennis Quaid played as the long time starting quarterback who nearly becomes paralyzed. Now my initial reaction after he got hit was that his family would want him to immediately retire. What happened was the opposite, his wife wanted him to risk being paralyzed and brain damage so he can get one more contract although Dennis Quaid was trying to explain to her that he is worried about what might happen to himself. Or one of the confrontations between wife and husband when he mentions to her that they should put the kids to bed and the wife responds by saying:"Why can't we hire a maid?" This also adds on to Jamie Foxx's role and shows that the players are pressurized by their families towards good decisions and bad decisions and that the families have also lost touch with what is important in life. As well with Lawrence Taylor's role which shows the player-doctor relationship and the role that age and lack of education forcing players to push themselves over the limit for that last bonus, knowing after they retire they may not survive in the real world. LL Cool J's role as the star running-back shows that he no longer cares about the team or the game itself and feels threatened by Jamie Foxx because he has brought a new style of playing to the team and they tend to not agree with each other but above all with this new style of play may not let him reach a certain amount of rushing yards to reach his bonus. Again Jamie Foxx comes into this part of the movie at the end when he hurts his arm but does not tell anyone worried what might happen to his career. I think overall this show that their is too much emphasis in sports and I'm saying this even though I'am a big sports fan.
A very interesting part of the movie is the Al Pacino's role as the head coach. His ongoing fighting with Cameron Diaz shows the relationship between owner and coach. The coach wants to win games and have control of the team but the owner wants the money, the power and the credit for building a team. Pacino has fallen into a slump and doesn't like the ways are looking for the future of the his job and the sport. For example when he says: "It's TV, it changed everything, changed the way we think forever. I mean the first time they stopped the game to cut away to some commercial that was the end of it. Because it was our concentration that mattered, not theirs, not some fruitcake selling cereal." He believes the game no matters any more it is the money and this is what I believe is the main point of the movie. It is no longer the game that matters it is the people who put the money into it and this is what has been or what will be the downfall of sports or really anything.
I think that a good message through all these downfalls is that if you stick together and focus on your goal you will succeed no matter how big the obstacle, hence the title "Any Given Sunday".
Any Given Sunday is one of Oliver Stone's most enjoyable movies. Sunday is pure entertainment, an action-packed spectacle that will delight even the most ardent sports enthusiast. Stone draws on the usual assortment of sports movie clichés, but he directs his actors, including Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, and LL Cool J, into such passionate and intense performances, that the movie is able to transcend its familiar material. While its 160-minute running time is a bit of a detriment, AGS works overall as a superior piece of escapist entertainment. Also, the locker room scene, which showcases a confrontation between Cameron Diaz and a football player with a giant penis, is a classic.
Wild and outrageous, Any Given Sunday gives the viewer a glimpse into an athletic world not too far from the real thing. While some of the scenes were a little too over the top, it proved to be a very enjoyable experience. As a major football fan, I was disappointed in the fact the NFL did not allow Stone to use their logos and stadiums. Oh well, I seemed to enjoy the fictional league even better, even if some of the team uniforms were a dreadful. Jamie Fox portrayed Willie Beamon perfectly, epitomizing the selfish athlete with a cultured ease. While the speed of Beamon's rise proved to be a little too quick, the message in the rise and fall of stardom was more poignant than anything.
I thought what a great combo for "Any Given Sunday" - Oliver Stone and
professional football -- excess meets its match.
So I grabbed a chance to go to the movies with my sons. They got a lot more out of the first and third thirds of the movie that are football games, which I couldn't follow at all, knowing zilch about football so I missed any references to significances of plays and strategies and didn't recognize the zillion football players past and present in bit parts, but I got other visual and music references they didn't.
The football field is explicitly a jungle, with the sounds like an elephant herd crashing. Of course Stone never says or shows once what he can get across 5 times, so the jungle fever point of the primalness of sports as a venue for male violence is accompanied by Native American chants, aboriginal and Asian Indian mystic strains as well. I don't know enough about rap to judge those selections -- I could tell there were lots of lyrics about "niggaz" working for The Man type of thing.
The second third should have appealed to me as that's when the huge ensemble has personal interactions and we learn all their selfish, dastardly, unpleasant motivations, but I was on sensory overload. Example: Al Pacino as the Old Guard Coach calls in Jamie Foxx as the suddenly first string quarterback (in a terrific performance), for a tête a tête on the pro's of Jazz over Rap, as a metaphor of the old football of finesse (what? all those flashbacks to black & white football games were of a subtle sport?). But when Foxx walks in Pacino has "Ben Hur" playing on a wide-screen TV. As if we didn't get the point Foxx actually says "The old gladiators, huh?" If we still didn't get the point the conversation keeps intercutting with the chariot race. And if we still didn't get the point of any reference in the conversation to racial issues then intercuts to the galley slave scenes from "Ben Hur" THEN on top of that, the NFL commissioner who puts the Bitch Owner in her place for trying to play with the Big Old Guys is none other than Charlton Heston.
No one just has a conversation -- everyone shouts, usually at the same time, so I had to close my eyes and I'm not sure if I missed something.
This is Sunbelt Football of expansion teams where the sport is not a Fall/Winter season - so the women were everywhere in tank tops, cleavage, midriffs bare and hips swinging, even Cameron Diaz as the Bitch Owner. Though all the women are really high priced prostitutes (even usually sweet Lauren Holly is a hardened cold Football Wife).
What I don't think I missed was Stone's outsize determination to ignore the homo-erotic aspects of male sports violence that "Fight Club" reveled in. Aw come on Stone, not a single gay player in the closet? He crowds the behemoths into locker rooms and showers that can barely contain their bodies--but he's so afraid of showing them in contact that he even at one point has one throw a baby alligator into the shower so they scatter.
Everyone is criticized-- including the sportscasters, which Stone revels in playing one (I think in general this movie is a show down between Stone and Spike Lee as it takes on more racial issues than he's done in the past). What a coincidence that ESPN is continually bad-mouthed when there's a big legible credit at the end to Turner Sports Network when this is a Time Warner movie and ESPN's a competitor.
Stone of course goes out of his way to link football with war, to fit into his oeuvre, with battle quotes from Vince Lombardi and some sort of link with Pacino's father dying in WWII that was irrelevant it seemed to me.
I think this is Dennis Quaid's at least third football movie and in the genre of such movies as "North Dallas 40," "Longest Yard," "Great American Hero," etc. and this joins that pantheon as a terrific football movie.
The music selections were by Robbie Robertson (with Paul Kelly but I'm not sure which Kelly that is) and he did as seamless a job as he's done for Martin Scorcese. The music credits at the end were impossible to read -- in 3 columns of a vertical font that was like watching the credits on TV - plus the movie continues under the credits so all those who bolted missed the ending.
Professional football deserves to be Oliver Stoned. But if I never saw any more football that'll be fine with me.
(originally written 12/27/1999)
Let me start by saying that i dont like or even understand american football and i personally think it does not come close to soccer but with this film it did not matter a jot. Oliver Stone had directed a film here that crosses all bounderies. You dont have to like the sport or understand it to appreciate how brilliant this film is. It is shot so well ,it makes you fell you are in the game and as for the soundtrack well that just adds to a mesmerising showpiece. Stars such as Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid,James Woods and Cameron Diaz star but for me the real Star of this film is James Foxx who plays the Quaterback who begins to believe his own hype but ultimately understands that it the team that matters. One of the test of a good film is that if you start to look at the clock throughout the film is usually means its not good , this film lasted 2 and a half hours and i never looked at the time. Brilliant. 9 out of 10.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, John C. McGinley, Aaron Eckhart, Charlton Heston, Oliver Stone, Elizabeth Berkley. Directed by Oliver Stone. Spoilers herein.
"Any Given Sunday" is a film that is a feast for the eyes, but not the mind. Stone does a great job for creating a dizzying direction, eye-opening visuals, and extremely loud sound, and he does all of this with the 2 and a half+ hours that he has to spare with the film but never does go deep into detail on the characters.
The story consists of a professional football team struggling with their season. The film opens with a quote from football legend Vince Lombardi, and then fades into a football game, where the starting quarterback for the Sharks, Jack Rooney is hurt in the middle of a game, unknown third string quarterback Willie Beaman is sent in for the rest of the season. As Beaman starts rising to fame, aging Coach D'Amato and Rooney begin to question if Beaman is worth risking the rest of the season and their chance for the championship as he is trying to make the team win by himself.
The performances are pretty good and powerful. Al Pacino and Jamie Foxx do great with the lead characters, and other familiar faces such as Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine and John C. McGinley in the supporting performances.
One thing I did really like about "Any Given Sunday" is how the action during the games is very realistic, gritty, and fast. It ultimately captures the intensity and hard work from the sport of Football. But like "Natural Born Killers" and "U Turn", the sound is so unbearably loud and images are so fast and dizzying that the film could give some viewers a headache. Stone has been known to cause controversy among his films, and this is a way that he seems to do it, but it didn't bother me so much as haters of the film. Despite of some of the strengths, "Any Given Sunday" does have a few flaws. The film is unnecessarily overlong, overly stylish, and underdeveloped. Stone really could have made the film about 20-30 minutes shorter, and with most of the time the characters are either playing on the game field or yelling at each other. Some scenes showing Willie's rise are no more interesting than a Nike Gridiron commercial or a Michael Bay film. Another thing Stone forgets to do is add emotion to the film, and he replaces that with mostly sports action.
Overall I really did enjoy this film a lot, for it's realistic football scenes and the living hell that the players go through in order to win. But at times it really does try too hard, especially when it's absent with a great script and follows clichés of older Football (or even gladiator) films. But I would recommend it to Stone fans and football fans especially. A very considerate 4 stars out of 5.
I don't intend to add to the many positive comments about this movie. I
agree with them. But from another perspective:
First, I have never been a football fan. However, any movie that combines Oliver Stone and Al Pacino has to get my interests. I loved it.
One thing that did impress me more than anything else was the quality of the sound design. The 3 dimensional noises in the huddle, on the line, from the grandstands; the growls and other sounds from the players; these things made the movie live and my blood boil. I was breathless.
Then these things interspersed with dead silences and slow motion dreamlike sequences gave the action a spiritual quality.
I stayed for the credits to see who had done this sound work and I think Wylie Stateman will get, at the very least, an Oscar nomination for sound design. If you ever wondered what this credit meant, see this movie and you will know. This movie would have lost a great deal of its punch without that sound designer's talent.
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