Any Given Sunday (1999)
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For a basic plot summary, "Sunday" focuses on the Sharks, a pro football team coach by "Al Pacino". When star quarterback "Dennis Quaid" goes down with an injury, third-stringer "Jamie Foxx" must step in and lead the team to the playoffs, all the while trying to be competitive so that owner "Cameron Diaz" can leverage the city for more money on a stadium deal.
Unless you are hopped up on Red Bull or steroids, this movie is pretty much an incoherent mess. It has no discernible plot, completely cardboard-cutout characters, and every single scene is punctuated by loud, driving, rock/rap music that essentially makes this experience feel like a 2.5 hour music video.
Instead, this is strictly a vehicle for these purposes: -Getting Diaz in a few more sexy evening gowns -Showcasing Foxx as "leading man" material -Letting director Oliver Stone screw around for 150 minutes and throw theme after theme in our face while developing none of them -LL Cool J showing he can "act" as well as rap.
The ONLY bright spot of this experience is the epic speech given by Pacino's character before the film's climax. Surrounded by utter dreck on both sides, that speech will (if only for a few minutes) get you fired up about something.
Other than that, though, "Any Given Sunday" is a total mess. The inclusion of James Woods (perhaps the single worst/most annoying actor of his time) almost seems fitting for such a stinker. If you are a pigskin fan who wanted to enjoy this one, I suggest you do so in the middle of a roid rage or other crazy emotional moment. At any normal time, this is 2.5 hours of time utterly wasted.
Behind the scenes Football extravaganza! There isn't much more to say that that...but it has to be at least 10 lines long so.
In Typical Oliver Stone fashion, the movie has cast ALL of Hollywood and James Woods. So, in typical Oliver Stone fashion, even the bit parts have A-list actors bringing their A games to the field. So you can't fault the movie for pro talent.
Most ALL of Stone's movies have that heavy handed acting.
It almost feels like you haven't got acting credentials unless you've played a role in an Oliver Stone film. If you make it onto that honored list of cameos than you're a real actor.
So you have that going for you.
And if you are a football fan...and there are painfully few enjoyable football movies..."Any Given Sunday" has all the references you'd ever want, both to the real life and most of the boring football films that came before it.
Baseball has all the really good movies doesn't it? Speaking of which I need to review the greatest sports movie ever made. That's right, "Bull Durham." You know Stone loves controversy when he casts a sports movie and leaves out Kevin Costner.
Ramble, ramble, ramble and what you have here is a review of a movie that could be best titled: "Clash of the Egos" Some guys are team players and some guys aren't and you'll find out who is who on Any Given Sunday.
Really, there are characters here that predicted the modern age of football where people on a losing team will dance over the slightest play.
And that should be ten lines. Watch it, it's awesome
It is Virtually Impossible to Have a Sports Movie that Avoids Clichés because in Reality the Thing that Makes Sports so Much Fun to Watch are Clichés (4th quarter, seconds left, 4th down, goal to go, down by 5......bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, 2 outs, 3 and 2 count, down by 3...and so on).
So How does Director Oliver Stone, a Filmmaker who Loves to do things that are Cutting Edge, Over the Top, and Different, Deal with All of that? He doesn't, that's what He does. The Always Controversial Curmudgeon, Stone Decides to Embrace the Clichés, Wallow in them, Celebrate the Clichés, Putting it All there for All to See, and He says See, "That is Football".
It's No Mistake, that Quote is from the Director Himself, Playing a TV Announcer. As the Commentator He Also Includes a Nod to Sports Aphorisms, "Here's where the proverbial rubber meets the proverbial road".
This is a Sports Movie that is an Oliver Stone Movie that is High Entertainment, Amped Up, OK, Performance Enhanced (couldn't resist), and In Your Face just like the Game of Football. With the Advent of Cameras on Wires, and Cameras in Blimps, and Helmet Cameras, the Medium has Become the Message and the Director is, No Doubt a Fan of Football (and Marshall Mcluhan).
The Cast is Superb and the Sport of Football in the Movie is Played by Real Football Players, or at Least Actors who have Athletic Ability. Recommended for Football Fans, and the Parallels Between the Game Itself and the Movie Game Portrayed, Make for Good Teammates.
The film starts with a nauseatingly filmed American Football match in which a lot of things happen, but few are explained properly. Now I don't know anything about American Football, but in a good film you can usually follow what's going on. In Any Given Sunday you might as well ask a cat what's happening. Unfortunately, this goes on for the rest of the film. Important characters just come along without a proper introduction and we never learn anything substantial about them. Because of this I quickly lost interest for every character, and nothing they did or said mattered to me.
A confusing, bland story is bad enough in itself, but this also means that great actors are wasted. The film stars Al Pacino Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, James Woods and Cameron Diaz. In my opinion every one of these actors are capable of good performances. But throughout the film only Pacino, Foxx and Diaz are able to make something out of it. The rest of the actors add little to the quality of this picture. Dennis Quaid is boring and unconvincing as the only sane football player in the film. We hardly learn anything about him even though he's an important character. James Woods plays a doctor who acts like he's straight out of a parody. And the rest of the football team look and act like rappers and professional wrestlers.
Now I don't think the actors are to blame because the directing is absolutely terrible. It's hard to believe this was made by a capable director, never mind an Academy Award winner like Oliver Stone. Most of the film looks more like a rap video or a very poor episode of CSI Miami than an actual film. In some scenes you suddenly get pointless shots of the city or clouds or even Ben-Hur. I also wondered about the casting. The film has its fair share of people with limited acting skills, some of them even play main characters like LL Cool J. I also read Oliver Stone wanted P. Diddy for the character that Jamie Foxx played. This really amazes me, I mean why would a great director like Oliver Stone want to work with talentless artists who can't act to save their lives? When the film was finished I could not believe Oliver Stone directed this. It was more like watching a cheap advert or a music video. The opening sequence of The Last Boy Scout was a better American football film than this. What on earth went wrong? Was Oliver Stone on drugs? Did he do this for a bet? I suppose some of the actors are decent, and the story starts to pick up near the end. But that's it, there's nothing else. I would have never expected something like this from Oliver Stone, and I hope I never have to see something like it again.
The acting? An insult to the actors! In the first part of the film only Cameron Diaz had a decent role. In the second part there were some indications that the director actually wanted to use the immense capabilities of Al Pacino. Dennis Quaid was completely miscast; a 45 year old quarterback? You must be joking. Jamie Foxx was badly used, James Woods had a ridiculously poor part. But look at what they did to Aaron Eckhart and Charlton Heston. Tedious little parts. Charlton Heston was probably only in it because they used some clips from Ben Hur, again unnecessary and unrelated. And then not to mention Ann-Margret. Was it really necessary to put her in this film at all? And certainly not as a drunk, possibly with dementia. As an overall result this film is a sickening insult to the viewer as well. A lot of promises, no delivery.
You are mad about American Football? Love MTV? Go see this movie. You like to watch a good film? Ignore this one. You expect an Oliver Stone film? Not this one, not Any Given Sunday.
The Miami Sharks are in turmoil and struggling to make the playoffs. Their veteran coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino), who has fallen out of favour with young owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz)and offensive coordinator Nick Crozier (Aaron Eckhart)is expected to succeed D'Amato as head coach. During the season the Sharks quarterback, Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) and his replacement are both injured. They have to call up the rookie quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx). Beamen is visibly nervous which includes throwing up during the game and makes a number of errors as he lacks knowledge regarding the team's play-book. Beamen however gains in confidence and quickly his star is in the ascendancy but the can the wily D'Amato turn the team around and outfox Pagniacci?
Stone tells us the stories of people from different levels as they struggle to survive within in the world of professional sport. Cap is ageing and maybe past his best but his wife wants him to continue despite the pain of injuries to keep up with the lifestyle. Beamen on the hand is getting endorsements, money and women but loses his long time girlfriend along the way. Many of the others are willing to risk long term health as their ruthless medic (James Woods) is willing to give shots and misinterpret findings so the players keep on playing.
Stone like D'Amato now a veteran filmmaker maybe past his prime when he made this film is typically audacious and frenetic. As always he keeps the camera moving, when one player gets tackled his eye pops out. He gets Pacino to let rip in several scenes but gets more nuances performances from Foxx and Quaid. A critical eye on NHL franchises, money and sport but this is a minor film in Stone's resume.
Oliver Stone is using his directing skills in this aggressive show of testosterone overload. That aggression never lets up and the result is a tiring experience. The extreme close up, the sharp cuts, the heart pumping action all drive the movie close to the edge and then over it. There is a lot to admire about Oliver Stone. Sometimes I wish he relax on the reins a little and let the story breathe. The other problem I have is that Al Pacino doesn't seem to do much coaching other than yelling and making speeches. He's a movie cliché. However, the cast is fill with top rank performers. They can outshout any problems with the characters.
The plot is simple enough. Veteran coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) has been successful for most of his 30 year run. However, his team falls on hard times and questions arise about his ability to lead. When his veteran QB gets hurt, untested backup Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) steps into the breach and starts to win. He lets success go to his head, however, and quickly alienates his teammates with a selfish, me-first attitude. Eventually, he realizes he must lead by example and not just through physical play. Beamen redeems himself and saves his season.
Despite a host of name actors involved with Any Given Sunday, it is not well cast. I absolutely love Al Pacino- a truly great actor with scores of awards (including an Oscar) for validation, but he does NOT make a convincing football coach. Compare his role for instance with that of James Gammon as manager Lou Brown in the lightweight comedy Major League. Gammon looks, acts and speaks like a grizzled managerial veteran- a GREAT job of casting. Only Pacino's tremendous skills as an actor prevent this from being a disaster. Ironically, the unquestioned best scene in the movie is Pacino's locker room speech, an inspiring, passionate speech touching on the virtues of self-reflection and togetherness- it elicits both a tear from the eye and a fire from within. Unfortunately, this is the exception.
Cameron Diaz, despite being a qualified actress, is not convincing as the owner of a professional sports franchise and strains credibility. It's revealed that she inherited the team from her football-minded father, but it plays flat. Many of the football stars are caricatures; when ex-Giant great Lawrence Taylor looks like Sir Laurence Olivier compared to some of these clowns, you know there's a problem. And perhaps the worst performance of all belongs to John C. McGinley who hams it up and evokes images of a crazed Jim Rome as a slimy sports talk show host.
Oliver Stone is completely out of his element with Any Given Sunday. And any movie with Al Pacino, Charlton Heston, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Jim Brown, Cameron Diaz, James Karen and a host of other A-list performers should've been a helluva lot better.
The good. Perfect editing. The way the images are melded just sucks you right in. Great photography. Excellent score and music. Superb football action. Razor sharp dialogs. Complete characters. Solid cast that fit incredibly well together. Very involved story with a good number of sub-story, all interesting and well developed. Nicely paced scenario, with good emotional breaks and powerful action scenes. It's a long film with lots of meat and every minute is worth it, they even used the final generic to pitch us the epilogue. Nicely done. Great ending.
The actors. Al Pacino is playing his best role here. He gets away from his usual angry almost psychotic roles into a more mellow and near sentimental human being, but still very much troubled and imperfect. Cameron Diaz, for once, plays a hard nut to crack, tough, nowhere near nice and she does it extremely well. Dennis Quaid plays the hero, again, and does it superbly as he always does. Jamie Foxx does his thing as the cool and bitter professional athlete.
Now for the smaller roles that round up this flick and elevate it to greatness. LL Cool J plays the money grabbing star to perfection. Matthew Modine plays a institutionalized game-first team doctor who faces Aaron Eckhart as the do-gooder in a battle over the health of the player. Jim Brown is the perfect tough defensive coach with a heart of gold and a head full of the glory days. Lela Rochon is the sweet intelligent life partner of the third string quarterback. Lauren Holly is the hateful witch trying to control her legendary husband. Lawrence Taylor captures our attention as the bruised captain and keystone of the defensive team. Bill Bellamy plays a young receiver. And Andrew Bryniarski denotes himself as the rough angry offensive line man.
The bad. The opposing team design. The costumes look like they were done last minute, not part of a professional football league.
The ugly. Nothing, it's near damn perfect.
The result. A football movie that's so well made, anyone can enjoy it. See it.
The second aspect that emerges is the global heaviness of the movie: whether it is the convenient, predictable and a bit cliché script, or the actors sometimes overacting, or the gaudy cinematography or the omnipresent soundtrack almost giving a powerful headache especially during the game scenes.
Sure, there are a few positive points such as a few (rare) well written dialogues, or Al Pacino that, while not very subtle, is rather convincing, but it is not enough to make this movie really attractive and a classic of its kind.
From the over staged, less than exciting football segments (go watch real football – it is much more entertaining) to the habitual, paint by numbers, cliché final game (where everything comes down to several huge plot points) this movie stinks. The ending "will the old quarterback allow the young rebel to have the spotlight" and "will the aging veteran risk his frail health to go out in one huge flameout of football glory?" makes the this movie completely unremarkable. It's not so much that it's so bad, well, actually, it is just that! Are there any positive qualities? Hmmm, think, think, think - nope, can't think of a one.
The screenplay is strongly suited to the magical storytelling that Stone always creates in his films. The soundtrack fits perfectly throughout the film and the sound mixture from audiences to on-the-field dialogue.
Speaking from a former football player from a high school level i can relate to the progression of righteous bonding that everyone develops.
Oliver Stone including an all-star cast bring one of the most hard hitting, realistic football films to date. This movie brings the side of football that's concealed behind closed doors. Every moment drives you in complete awe. In sports films, nonetheless in films in general Any Given Sunday is as good as movies get.
Still find it hard to believe it was filmed in 1999!! Seems like it was just released this year every time I watch it (5 times now). Each character is integral to his or her own part and you're never left wondering why they had a part in the first place. Whether it's Pacino's lead role on film or Lauren Holly's minor character of Quaid's "Cap Rooney" wife.....they all have fantastic screen presence and have you relating to them straight away. Life and death struggles was a bit of an overstated tag line, but certainly you start to bond and feel every painful emotion and physical blow the team (Miami Sharks) endure.
I personally haven't felt an emotional football or even sports movie like this since All The Right Moves back in the early 80's with Tom Cruise. From Pacino and Foxx down to minor coaching cameo actors, they all have 3 dimensional roles. This movie could've easily have been over 3 hours long and it would still be over too quick. I only wish that Oliver Stone would direct a hockey epic like this instead of the comedy mishaps we always get like Slap Shot, Youngblood and Goon!! A solid 8/10 for a film that brings out some of the best performances from Pacino, Quaid & James Woods. Foxx is brilliant in making you feel compassion early on for his character to feeling utter disdain and contempt as his alter-ego grows and grows and loses touch with why he started playing football in the first place.
'Any Given Sunday' is a behind the scenes look at the life and death struggles of modern day gladiators and those who lead them.
Being a sports-drama, 'Any Given Sunday' offers a punch. Prolific Filmmaker Oliver Stone executes each sequence, with razor-sharp vision. However, the Screenplay by Daniel Pyne, John Logan & Stone himself, appeals mainly in the second-hour. The first-hour is slow-paced & slightly uneven. But, the second-hour is arresting & the climax, the football match, is stunning. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design, are accurate.
Performance-Wise: Al Pacino is excellent, yet again. Cameron Diaz is terrific in a role that offers her Grey shades. James Woods is perfect. Jamie Foxx is in full form. Dennis Quaid is very good. LL Cool J is fair. Lawrence Taylor & Aaron Eckhart are effective.
On the whole, 'Any Given Sunday' is an entertaining film, that doesn't fail to deliver.
Tony D'Amato, the head coach of the Miami Sharks, won back-to-back championships four years ago. But new team owner Christina Pagniacci has little enthusiasm for the finer points of the game and is concerned only with the bottom line. The longtime strongman of Tony's team has been "Cap" Rooney, a 39-year-old quarterback, but Christina balks at renewing his contract. When Cap is injured during a game, third-string rookie quarterback Willie Beaman goes on in his place and becomes a major star. But Beaman is mostly interested in fame and money, and he has little regard for Tony and his teammates.
The film tries its best to depict professional American football as it looks at the best and the worst on the sport.Although the performances of the actors are far from disappointing,the film becomes an exercise of clichés and unoriginal ideas required by the plot.Also,the film does not focus on the primary theme it wants to focus on or the message it wants to convey about pro football despite of the passionate performances and brilliant film making from Stone.Overall,Any Given Sunday still entertains and remains an enjoyable sports film.
With Stone laying bare some brutal truths the NFL was never going to have anything to do with this movie. So the story follows the fictional Miami Sharks of the fictional AFFA. Their veteran coach Tony D'Amato has had a distinguished career but has the game passed him by? The team's owner certainly thinks so. Oh, by the way that owner, Christina Pagniacci, is played by Cameron Diaz. Cameron Diaz owns a football team? OK then. Well, it turns out daddy died and left his daughter the team. And Christina is no shrinking violet. She is driven and determined. Which is a nice way of saying she's a bitch. When she isn't making her coach's life miserable she's trying to blackmail Miami's mayor for a new stadium. She thinks she's in control but does anyone really respect her? The answer to that question may well disappoint her. Meanwhile his raving shrew of an owner is far from Tony's only problem. In the first game we see the Sharks lose their star veteran quarterback to injury. And then lose his backup. Enter Willie Beamen. And all hell breaks loose.
In no time at all Beamen goes from anonymous third-string quarterback to superstar. Really, I mean no time at all. Sorry Mr. Stone but I don't care how well you play you don't go from complete unknown to having your own rap video and your picture on the side of every bus in town in two weeks. Just one clear instance of the movie not really ringing true. Anyhow, Beamen's winning games and exciting fans but he's driving his coach and teammates nuts. He ignores the coach, makes up his own plays, does it all his way. And despite his success he ends up tearing his team apart. The coach sees this happening and tries to rein Beamen in but it's a futile effort. Especially when the owner doesn't back the coach. The Sharks are now winning games but there's conflict all over the place. Everyone's got their own agenda. The owner, the coach, the players, the doctors, everyone's pulling in their own direction. This seems destined for a spectacular blowup.
Stone has a great ensemble cast but there are two roles clearly more important than the rest. The movie is at its heart about two men, Coach Tony D'Amato and "Steamin" Willie Beamen. Al Pacino plays the coach and is as good as you would expect. A little over the top in some moments but the whole movie goes a little over the top in many moments. And Pacino is very good in the quieter moments such as heart-to-hearts with his two quarterbacks, the aging star and the young hotshot. Speaking of that young hotshot Jamie Foxx plays Beamen and captures all the character's excesses wonderfully while also conveying the hurt and frustration of a guy who never felt he was given a fair shot in football or in life. It's Pacino and Foxx who really have to carry the movie and they do a very good job of it. But they have plenty of support. Diaz is surprisingly effective in a role which certainly does not seem tailor-made for her. Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Matthew Modine, Aaron Eckhart, Ann-Margret...the list goes on and on. Notable performers who all add something to the film. There's also room for real-life football stars. Jim Brown we already knew could act. Lawrence Taylor is a pleasant surprise. He plays an old, broken-down linebacker facing the end of his career and his own personal demons. So basically, LT's playing himself. And he handles that very well.
So the cast is generally excellent and the story's entertaining enough so why is there the nagging sense that the movie's not quite as good as it could have been? One problem is the football action. Stone takes you right onto the field, capturing the sound and fury. But he goes too far. Realism takes a back seat as we're presented with a lot of rather cartoonish football, guys doing full-twisting double somersaults into the end zone and such. The game is exciting enough as is, Stone didn't need to crank it up past the point of truth. And a lot of the off the field stuff goes a little too far as well. There's a lot of craziness and excess. Our on-field warriors are wild men off the field. A little too wild at times to take the movie seriously. And then there's the central plot point, Beamen's rise to instant superstardom. The media makes stars quickly but not that quickly. It's just not really believable. Coach D'Amato tells us football is a game of grabbing that last inch. Any Given Sunday comes close but when we stretch out the chains it comes up just that inch short.
Possibly the most important thing I learned watching this film is that, when his attention is turned from conspiracy theories, director Oliver Stone doesn't really have a lot to say – although Pacino's character in this movie could easily be seen as a surrogate for the director's image of himself: beleaguered and misunderstood, but ultimately victorious.
When the film isn't deliberating over whether Coach D'Amato will buckle under the pressure it's at pains to draw romanticised parallels between the modern American footballer and gladiators/warriors of old. But by trying to idealise the players while simultaneously providing a salacious insight into their hedonistic excesses away from the pitch, the film creates a glaring contradiction that simply serves to distance the audience even further from its deified characters.
Stone's typically breakneck style of storytelling is really the only thing that sets it apart from what is, when stripped of its glossy veneer, an alarmingly stale and clichéd plot. How many times have we seen the ageing warhorse overcoming his self-doubts to win for the coach one last time? The player whose life is football and who is willing to risk paralysis in order to keep on playing? The morally ambiguous doctor willing to overlook the Hippocratic Oath in order to enable these 'warriors' to pursue their dream? The executive losing sight of the meaning of the game while engaged in the irksome politics of big business? Off-duty players snorting cocaine from the breasts of high-class hookers? Well, OK, we might not have witnessed the last one often (enough), but the other plot strands have been done to death a hundred times over.
Pacino wanders through the movie with an expression that swings like a metronome from anger to bewilderment. His choice of roles has become increasingly open to question as he grows older, but this one at least seems to suit his rugged, weary countenance. Jamie Foxx as Willie Breaman, the hotshot newcomer, is convincing enough without ever really stamping his authority on the role, but a miscast Cameron Diaz is sorely out of her depth as the owner of the Miami Sharks and becomes all but invisible in the scenes she shares with Pacino.
Any Given Sunday isn't a bad movie, but neither is it a thing of any worth. Stone refuses to allow the camera to settle for more than a second at a time, and injects random images into intimate conversations that just don't do anything other than make you wonder why he's doing it. And in the end, you get the impression he knew only too well how weak his material was and attempted to distract us all with a display of cinematic pyrotechnics.