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In the sumer of 1976, 30-year old Vince Papale is having a tough run of luck. He's been working as a supply teacher for two days a week but has just found out that his job has been eliminated because of budget cuts. His wife gives up on him saying he'll never amount to anything and asks for a divorce. He works as a bartender and plays football with his friends. When the the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Dick Vermeil, announces that he will hold open tryouts for the team, Vince reluctantly decides to give a try. Based on a true story. Written by
From A Philly Boy - A Feel Good Story That Does A Good Job Recreating 70's Philly Life
First off - I'm biased. Let me get that out of the way first. I grew up in Center City Philly during the 70's and am a life-long Eagles fan. So, I was pretty excited to see the movie to get juiced for the upcoming 2006 Eagles season while also hoping to relive Philly life from 1976.
The movie starts by giving us some background on the plight of the 1975 Eagles (a pretty bad team) and Vince Papale (a man pretty down on his luck). Little did both the team and Vince know their fortunes were about to change with the arrival of Dick Vermeil, the new head coach of the Eagles.
The basic need of any biographical movie is that it MUST establish a relationship with the audience in order for us to be emotionally connected to the movie. I would say that Invincible only does a "so-so" job with this. For example, I recently saw "Walk The Line", if that movie does one thing well is it makes us really care about Johnny Cash and June Carter. On the other hand, Mark Wahlberg's version of Vince Papale keeps us at a distance while offering only limited insight into what really makes Vince tick. It doesn't help that the script keeps Mark's lines to a minimum. This doesn't seem to jive with the real Vince Papale, a very high energy man who always has something to say. On the other hand, Greg Kinnear does a GREAT rendition of Dick Vermeil. He really nailed Dick in personality and mannerisms.
The best part of the movie are the visuals. The movie does a great job recreating Philadelphia life in 1976, what it was like to be an Eagle fan in the 70's and 1970's NFL life before the mega-millions contracts and cushy locker rooms with every amenity imaginable. These aspects of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed.
However, there were a couple noticeable misses in this recreation. There was no mention at all of the 1976 Bicentennial in the movie. This was a pretty big miss since the entire city was wrapped up in the celebration. Another thing that puzzled me was the "woes us" attitude from the Phiilly fans in the movie. This really wasn't the case in Philadelophia at the time. Yes, the Eagles were bad, but the Phillies made the playoffs that year, the Sixers went to the NBA finals behind Dr. J, and the Flyers had just won two Stanley Cups. While I'm on the portrayal of the Philly fans, some of it was a little over the top. When the Eagles are losing by several touchdowns late in the game, everyone doesn't stay to boo, and we certainly don't threaten other fans to stay. I laughed at most of it because I knew it was more caricature than real life. But I know there are people out there who think thats how Philly fans really are. From me to you, it's more myth than fact.
Overall, I'm giving the movie 7 out of 10. But, if Vince Papale were a Giant, I'd only give it 6 out of 10.
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