Having no real love for football (or any sport for that matter), all that really concerns me when I’m watching a sports movie is if it’s an engaging story with interesting characters. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY does meet this criteria but it is weighed down heavily by Director Oliver Stone’s presentation.
With no true main character, the movie is a look at the flawed individuals involved with a pro Football team called the Miami Sharks (The NFL understandably wasn’t interested in participating with this film). Head coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacinio) is stuck in the past and when his star quarterback “Cap” Rooney (Dennis Quaid) is injured along with the 2nd string QB, Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) is finally given a chance to shine.
To say Tony and Willie are at odds is an understatement. Self-centered and angry at the world, Willie is the farthest thing from a team player, but he’s effective on the field. This tug of war is further exasperated when new team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) wants results and is willing to wade in the grey areas of ethics and morality to get her team a champion ring.
The film lives in this grey area as we see the struggle from all sides and all points of view. The end result is that the integrity of the game itself has been lost decades ago when they started breaking up the game to allow for commercials. Everything is run by the almighty dollar whether it is salaries, bonuses, endorsements, sponsors or even in what city the team will hang its helmet.
It doesn’t make for a pleasant theme and at over 2 ½ hours long, it starts to wear thin at times. This is made even more tedious by Stone’s overdone style. There’s too much shaky cam, slo-motion and odd cutaways that only distract from the storytelling. I can appreciate trying to enhance the style from your average sports film, but there’s a point where it becomes too much and works against the material.
But with that said, the internal politics of the film are quite interesting and even though the performances are a tad heightened, they are effective as is the movie at the end of the given day.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is worth seeing but I found the more relaxed and introspective MONEYBALL (2011) to be a much better insight into the extreme capitalist nature of sports.
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