In the Kilpatrick juvenile detention center, the supervisor and former football player Sean Porter sees the lack of discipline, self-esteem, union and perspective in the teenage interns and proposes to prepare a football team to play in one league. He is supported by his superiors and his successful experience changes the lives of many young kids. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Prepare to hear whining and complaining from movie critics who fall outside the boundaries of this movie's target demographic by a good 15
20 years: "This is so predictable!" "What a bunch of clichés!" "We've
seen it all before!"
You know what? I'm not going to argue with those points. I don't deny that this is a by-the-numbers sports drama. "You can do it" speeches fill the air, inspirational music soars high, and anybody well-versed in this genre can easily call the shots. Come on, did you really doubt that there'd be a jerk opposing player that we'd be forced to hate? Are you naive enough to wonder if he'll get his comeuppance by the movie's end?
Gridiron Gang is a movie that understands who its audience is, and it plays them like a fiddle. But you know what else? I don't care. The audience absolutely loved it. Biggest crowd reaction of any movie I've seen so far this year. They cheered when the gang got a touchdown, they grimaced at every painful tackle, and they chanted for Johnny Betts to take his shirt off. Hey, I thought it was a little out of place as well. But who am I to deny my fans?
Now I'm not saying this is a movie of the year contender, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not ashamed of that, and I'm not going to apologize for it. I'll even go so far as to admit that there were a couple of scenes during which I got a little choked up - the only time it's happened this year.
Yeah, I said it. You got a problem with it? My biker boots (size 11) and I would be more than happy to discuss the issue. If you can turn an indifferent eye to the scene near the end involving Rock's mother then you, my friend, are a cold, cold man. Or woman.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for inspirational sports movies, especially when they star an actor I like - and I really like The Rock. His charisma and natural screen presence are undeniable, and he even displays some impressive acting chops here. The man gives us real tears
from BOTH eyes. Take that, Ashley Judd!
Not every film has to be a deep, insightful masterpiece of epic proportions with layers and layers of social commentary and "vertiginous fluidity." Some movies are simply made to entertain. What's wrong with giving the audience something to cheer? You know, there are still a few moviegoers out there who want to go home happy and inspired.
If you fit into that category then you won't have any problem ignoring the familiarity of Gridiron Gang. The wonderful mixture of humor and drama will suck you in and have you rooting for these kids to overcome the odds.
If you've got a "Mr. Potter heart" then do us and George Bailey a favor and stay home. The theater will be more pleasant without your curmudgeonly ways.
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