Given Sunday: Special Edition Director's Cut
Moviemaking with Kicks
by Johnny Bray
It makes me wonder why studios bother making sports movies anymore. Nine
times out of ten, it's exactly the same plot rehashed for a different
team, and occasionally, a different sport. They all involve a team that's
not doing so well for one reason or another, and throughout the course
of the movie, they come together and win it all.
Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday is not much different. It starts off
with the former championship team playing their first game after three
straight losses. This, for some reason, is played as the worst record
for any team in history.
Are the writers not aware of the Cincinnati Bengals? Or the Cleveland
Anyway, the movie opens with the Miami Sharks' (gee, I wonder how they
came up with that name) star quarterback (Dennis Quaid) getting injured.
They send in their second string QB who also gets injured. So Tony D'Amato
(Al Pacino) is forced to send in their inexperienced third stringer, Willie
Beamen (played excellently by Jamie Foxx). He starts off a little shakily,
but soon elevates the team back to what it's supposed to be.
The movie focuses more on the off-field action of professional football.
Beamen realizes instant success, which turns into music videos, commercials,
and all the other sell-out material. D'Amato fights to keep control of
his life, and especially his reputation as one of the greatest coaches
of all time. All Cap (Quaid) wants to do is get better, so he'll be able
to play in the playoffs. However, Christina (Cameron Diaz), the owner
of the team, is only concerned about seeing to it that the team gets a
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It pretty much plays like any other sports
movie, but with about three thousand subplots involved. Stone makes sure
he Hollywood-izes the football action; close-ups of the ball flying through
the air, lots of slow motion; you get the picture. What directors don't
seem to get, is that people enjoy watching football on TV. If they really
want to catch the audience's eye, they need to film it the way people
like to see it. If it doesn't look authentic, it doesn't feel authentic.
Not only that, but the uniforms look really, really cheap. They look more
suitable for high school football, as opposed to the professional league.
The movie claims to have a massive, all-star cast, and indeed it does.
Unfortunately, most of the cast is wasted. Pacino and Diaz scream their
way through most of the film, James Woods appears for about ten minutes,
LL Cool J whines most of the time, and Charlton Heston shows up for as
long as he ever does these days. Quaid and Foxx are really the only ones
Also included in this film is an endless supply of cheesy monologues,
or "inspirational speeches." To add to the effect, it has a nice, politically
correct ending (what more can you ask of Oliver Stone), in which everyone
realizes their wrongs and makes amends.
It's also interesting to note that just about every game played in the
movie ends with high scores for both teams. That is not the NFL. The NFL
games are usually fairly low-scoring. Yet another hole in the authenticity
You'd probably think, based on this review, that I didn't at all like
the movie. Well, I did. At least a little bit. Dramatically, it's a decent
flick. But if you're looking for something to display some great football
action, watch the CFL (Canadian Football League). Any Given Sunday focuses
on the behind-the-game action. The on-field action is definitely not worth
watching the movie for.
The video and sound are superb. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and
5.1 dolby digital are good for watching the games. The picture is crystal
clear, with lots of bright colours, and the sound makes it feel like you're
in the middle of the action.
The extras include a making-of documentary, feature length director and
star commentaries, a music-only audio track, deleted/extended scenes,
3 music videos, Jamie Foxx audition tape/screen tests, a gag reel, production
stills and ad material galleries, and a bunch of DVD-Rom stuff.
Any Given Sunday, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
156 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 dolby digital
Starring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx
and LL Cool J
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Clayton Townsend and Dan Halsted
Screenplay by John Logan and Oliver Stone, Directed by Oliver Stone.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think