I have said it before and I say it again that Hollywood makes Sports films like no one else. I have loved even some of the lesser sports films that have come out over the years and I am convinced that they can repeat basic plots, be formulaic, be cheesy and yet come up with films that are highly affecting. Last week I watched two films about “American Football”. One about sports and spiritualism and how they both combined can actually bridge a gap in the society and also very effectively emancipate humans and another about a spirited sportsman who proved to one and all that the zeal to succeed dwarves any physical and mental discrepancies that one may have. Both of them are not exactly highly rated but I can assure you that if you watch these two films you are bound to be affected. If you look at it from a cinematic perspective, there may be shortfalls but what these two films never lack is the heart which for me was more than enough.
I will start off by reviewing My All American. The film narrates the story of Texas Longhorn Defensive Back Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) who succumbed to bone marrow cancer in 1971 but before that left an undeletable mark on the history and Texas football itself. He rose through the ranks from being an underdog for his small build to almost single handedly leading the defense of the Longhorns and with such success and gusto that they successfully achieved what they set out to achieve that season. He is loved and encouraged by his coach, Royal (a superb Aaron Eckhart). The film follows the story of Steinmark in the last two-three years of his life when he joins the Texas Longhorns and leads them to a successful season before being diagnosed with cancer, losing a leg and then finally dying but not before proving the doctor wrong.
The film has a story to tell but it is not laced with bravura twists and turns and neither does it try to be thrilling in every act but the kind of effect it is able to generate really gets to you real quickly. To start with the character of Freddie is immensely likeable. His characteristics, his love for the game and his devotion to his family, girlfriend, study and religion will make you fall in love with him. Finn Wittrock essays Freddie with the same likeability that I can associate with the man from the rendering of his character. What was great about his essay was the amount of heart he put into the act. There are moments where a sudden facial twitch or raising of an eyebrow conveys a whole lot more emotion than spoken words. He does that with aplomb.
The sporting action is great. Be it the training sessions or the sensationally rendered matches, the audience will be able to feel the speed and power of the action primarily because of the way the film is shot and editing. The editing is not at all hyperactive which is a way of saying the there are no excessive cuttings to hide shooting deficiencies. The action is clear and you often see wide shots giving you a complete view of what is happening. There are a few takes from the coach’s perspective which really look great. Speaking of the coach, Aaron Eckhart essays coach Royal with authority. I just loved his act. He is demanding and bossy but he never for once loses his warmth and love for the players which really increases his likeability. His act becomes even more intense and likeable towards the end when he realizes that his prodigy is in grave danger. The last game when he sends back Steinmark after taking him out was touching.
My All American is filled with moments of heartwarming love and brotherhood. It is filled with breathtaking actions and great dialog. It is a film that you can watch and re watch and it still never gets boring. It is the kind of film that you can watch with your family and each of the members will find their own trait to like about it. Don’t bother about the reviews that this film is garnering just go over and watch it. Chances are you will love it.