Under the auspices of staying inside and away from people, I hunkered down on Sunday afternoon. While I scoured Netflix I stumbled upon Oliver Stone’s 1999 football flick, Any Given Sunday.
You might be shocked to learn, that I, Sterling Pingree, all-time sportsman and football guy (seasonally Big Bruins Guy ((Registered Trademark)) ) have never watched Any Given Sunday.
After hearing about how great this movie is for 20 years, mostly from my college roommate (shout out Tom Corbett), here’s a review.
I’m a sucker for sports movie cameos from real athletes. Larry Bird in Blue Chips, Barry Bonds in Rookie of the Year, Larry Bird in Celtic Pride, Drew Bledsoe in Jerry Maguire, and Larry Bird in Space Jam just make the movies more real.
Any Given Sunday doesn’t have cameos, they have NFL legends acting in the movie. Jim Brown plays the Miami Shark’s defensive coordinator, Montezuma Monroe. Lawrence Taylor plays a Shark’s linebacker (more on that in a minute). Johnny Unitas plays the Dallas head coach for crying out loud!
Charlton Heston played the commissioner! This movie is loaded with star power and that’s overlooking the fact that the grizzled head coach is played by Al Pacino, two star QBs are Jamie Foxx and Dennis Quaid. LL Cool J (who was huge at the time) was the bell cow running back. Cameron Diaz is the owner/gm (stretch but fine) Ann-Margaret is her mom (just fine) and then there is a hundred other actors you’d know by name that I won’t list.
Plus Oliver Stone oddly plays an announcer and Jesse from Saved By the Bell plays a prostitute. (I guess she got pigeon holed after Show Girls?)
There’s a lot of bad. First off, any sports movie about a professional league runs the risk of looking silly when they can’t use real teams. Any Given Sunday is supposed to be a gritty and harsh look at professional football, so there was no way they were getting cooperation from the NFL, as the film depicts a players life of pain killer abuse, women, concussions, greed and delusion. That being said, the generic team names (and worse uniforms) hurts the film greatly. The Minnesota Americans? Miami Sharks? (wink wink) And the worst of all, the Dallas Knights.
The Dallas Knights, opponent of the Miami Sharks in the FIRST ROUND of the playoffs, is the climatic game of the movie. The Dallas Knights are coached by Johnny Unitas (who gets ZERO lines) and play in Texas Stadium. All good right? Well they turn chicken salad back into chicken blank by shrouding the stadium in red, dressing the team in Miller High Life colored uniforms (shout out Bam), with no logos on the helmets, and GIANT Knight’s cross logos on the front of the uniforms BECAUSE THE FRONT OF THE UNIFORMS DON’T HAVE FREAKING NUMBERS ON THEM! How am I supposed to buy into this giant, meaningful, final game with the big bad Dallas team looking like something from an 80’s handheld game?
There are a millions little things in this movie that drove me nuts.
Willie Beamen (Foxx) plays a game and a half (and not well) and he already had a hit rap song? The big final game is essentially a wild card game? The championship game is called the Pantheon Cup? (Seriously, it made me realize how a non-football fan must feel when we go on and on about someone winning a Super Bowl, it just sounds dopey!)
But the worst, the absolutely worst thing about the movie is that they have Lawrence Taylor. LT. Greatest defensive player of all-time, lined up as a player on the Miami Sharks and they screw it up two ways.
In the movie, he wears #58. Excuse me, LT is 56, I know it’s a movie but COME ON!
LT’s name in the movie? Shark Lavay. The star defensive player of the Miami Sharks, is nicknamed Shark. DID THEY PUT ANY THOUGHT INTO ANY OF THIS?
The movie is 2.5 hours and is on Netflix. It didn’t hold my attention, but now I guess I can say that I have seen it. Can’t say that I’d recommend it, yet. But I guess that depends on how hard up we get for sports in the coming weeks.