Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university. Each deals with the pressure differently, some turn to drinking, others to drugs, and some to studying.
A college football coach is told by his bosses that unless they do better this season it could be his last. To bolster the team he recruits a talented tail back. A female student is assigned to help him assimilate with college life and that includes doing his studies because he spent his whole life just playing football. And he finds himself attracted to her and she already has a boyfriend who is also on the team but he might be more concern about losing his position than losing her to him. And the coach has to deal with his other players' situations like the team's quarterback who deals with his father being distant by drinking and it eventually gets him in trouble. And one of the team's defensive players is obviously using steroids but passes the drug tests.Written by
Some scenes show college students lying in a street in the middle of car traffic as a way to prove their courage. A few weeks after the film's release, the studio recalled all copies and deleted this sequence from the picture in response to public outrage, because a few teenagers had been injured or killed imitating this deadly game. See more »
I'm not a football fan, although it's not like I haven't enjoyed football films from the past.... such as "North Dallas Forty," "Semi-Tough," and "The Longest Yard." Not that any of those were pure football movies, but maybe that's why I enjoyed them. So I didn't look at "The Program" from the eyes of a football fan, but from the perspective of whether it's a good movie or not. Certainly it's very professionally made and acted, and the football scenes are pretty exciting. (The point-of-view shots with the football helmet's bars in the foreground made you feel like you were there, as in any self-respecting shoot 'em up video game.)
The main reason why I was attracted to give "The Program" a peek was that I was in a James Caan state of mind... having recently seen him in "Warden of Red Rock," and rediscovering what a fine actor he can be. My first disappointment is that Caan, as the coach, is present mainly as a vehicle to keep the film moving along. He fixes things when the boys screw up, acts tough, makes appropriate facial expressions... and is basically a one-dimensional character with no depth. Naturally, the film has decided to focus on the lives of the football players, as youth sells.
Basically, we pursue the love lives of two jocks. Joe makes a play for Camille (played by the original Buffy, Kristy Swanson), while Darnell zeroes in on Autumn (Halle Berry... who helps make the movie come alive), after suckering her to tutor him. In both instances, both women are vehemently against dating these guys. (Camille, in fact, flat out states that she does not go out with football players; she ultimately does so by losing a bet.) Now, it's nothing new in movies... as sometimes in real life... for a fellow to court a reluctant girl only to win her over at the end. I know we like to see that sort of thing. However, neither of these young men had the kinds of characteristics that would turn these girls' pretty heads in the manner that they did. Darnell's sweet, but not educated enough to hold a sharp gal like Autumn for long; and Joe can be a smarty-pants, smirking jerk at times, especially for a hard-nosed and demanding sort that Camille is initially established to be.
However, not only do the girls fall for these guys (and, granted, some women have been known to fall in love for no good reason)... but they do so in a totally devoted and nearly altruistic way. I could have bought one of the female characters doing so, but both? How very unrealistic; in real life, unless a woman feels that immediate click... before surrendering so completely... usually she will make a man jump through many more hoops than what these lucky b******s go through. We're just moving the plot along, folks.
This is a great display of how Hollywood movies are made... I can imagine the screenplay being discussed by the marketing whizzes at Disney, where the committee of account executives decided that everything should safely and neatly fall into place. All the predictable cliches have that neat, happy ending... Darnell finally bonds with his rival, for example; Joe's neglectful father is shown tuning into to his son's big game. Yes, the movie pushes the right buttons, but there is no soul within; like in so many Hollywood cookie-cutter films... films that are, too often, hard to distinguish one from the next.
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