Thursday, December 22, 2016

Any Given Sunday Movie Review

Any Given Sunday (1999)
Written by: Daniel Pyne and John Logan (screen story), John Logan and Oliver Stone (screenplay)
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Starring: Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, James Woods, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Aaron Eckhart, Charlton Heston
Rated: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Football on and off the field for the fictional Miami Sharks, as third string quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) takes the game by storm while feuding with coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino).

It's very much a movie of the nineties, from the quick editing to the rock music soundtrack. It's a music video style replete with over the top actors, entertainers, and athletes.
The movie captures the intensity and that flamboyance of pro sports. Football isn't a team sport, it's about money and winning. The players, coaches, and an owner are all out for themselves. Any Given Sunday attempts to show what really happens off the field. The conflict among the character on and off the field propels the movie.
Watch it.

Oliver Stone wanted to use NFL logos and teams, but the NFL refused, even encouraging active players not to participate. Featured in cameo roles are former American football players Dick Butkus, Y. A. Tittle, Pat Toomay, Warren Moon, Johnny Unitas, Ricky Watters, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Owens, and Barry Switzer.

Chris Tucker and Cuba Gooding Jr. turned down the role of Willie Beamen. Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs was cast in the role, but dropped out due to his recording career.

"On any given Sunday you're gonna win or you're gonna lose" From the first scene, the editing imbues intensity with quick cuts and hard hits. A football team is a group of personalities put together on the field with the hopes that they'll win. While sports talk about teamwork, in the Sharks locker room, it's all about self preservation and getting that bonus. Television has made football a game about money.

When Sharks quarterback Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid), an aging team stalwart on his way out, is injured. Old school coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino), whose glory days have long past, is forced to put third string quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) in the game. No one expects a remarkable outcome with a no name bench player, but with an unlikely start Beamen goes from a nobody to a prodigy. His actions on the field, like running his own plays and refusing to follow the playbook, irritate D'Amato, but when the team is winning games no one complains. While Beamen's meteoric rise to fame stretches credibility, it serves to make a point. He's living the dream, and fame changes people. Endorsements roll in and Beamen is on magazine covers. He has the audacity to go on television and say all those things you're not supposed to. He criticizes Coach D'Amato's outdated style of play and touts his own abilities over the team. He says what everyone thinks, but never voices. Fame has a price, but winning overcomes. Beamen is the new age player, a counter to D'Amatao who kept the playbook simple and envisioned himself as an old gladiator.

Everyone talks team in public, but puts themselves first in private. The team's running back Julius Washington (LL Cool J) is a mercenary. He'll be a free agent soon and wants to rack up the rushing yards to get his bonus. "Shark" Lavay (Lawrence Taylor) is a few concussion past being able to play and is still in the game because he has a family and needs the paycheck.
James Woods plays the team's doctor, willing to clear any player to win and ingratiate himself with the higher ups.

The team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) is a woman in a man's world that constantly has to prove she can lead the team. Coach D'Amato is an easy target because Christina wants to get rid of the old school mindset, a mindset that often doesn't want to see a female owner. D'Amato is a reminder of how her father ran the team, and she wants to escape that shadow.

This is a movie about excess. It's an extended rap video with drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Lavay cuts a car in half with a chainsaw, a player keeps an alligator in the locker room, and there are more than a few prostitutes. This combines some of the most depraved characters into a movie, and tells them to work together. That's what makes this entertaining, big egos and selfishness. Almost every scene is filled with tension, with characters all wanting to get their way. It's up to Coach D'Amato to try and point them in the right direction. D'Amato is full of quotes and even a rousing speech before the playoffs about how, "Life is a game on inches."

This team turns it around and makes the playoffs. Off screen we find out that they didn't win the championship, which is fitting. D'Amato makes a final announcement that he's leaving the team and taking quarterback Willie Beamen with him. Of course he is. It's all about self.

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