A disillusioned football coach struggles to control an
up-and-coming quarterback with an enormous ego.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by John Logan and Oliver Stone
Starring Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid,
LL Cool J, James Woods, Jim Brown, Matthew Modine,
Lawrence Taylor, Aaron Eckhart, Ann-Margret,
John C. McGinley, Charlton Heston
I've never liked football, and I've seen very few football movies. But Oliver Stone is a director whose filmography I'd like to conquer as a viewer, so Any Given Sunday was one I wanted to see. It sports an insane ensemble cast led by the legendary Al Pacino playing against type as a major league coach past his prime. It's got a great soundtrack featuring Fatboy Slim and DMX among others. But here's the thing. It's eighteen minutes short of three hours and, like Natural Born Killers before it, is edited like a film school freshman's semester project. I'll never understand why Stone wants that vision. It looks ridiculous.
Tony D'Amato (Pacino) is the head coach of the Miami Sharks, a fictional football league because the NFL didn't like Stone mocking sponsorships and spotlighting player concussions. After his star quarterback Jack Rooney (Quaid) suffers a back injury, he's forced to put in rookie QB Willie Beamen (Foxx), who excels at the game, propelling the Sharks into a winning streak. However, victory fuels Beamen's ego and turns him into a complete asshole who thinks he's God's gift to football. Of course, over the two hour and forty-two minute runtime, Beamen learns the power of friendship and all is well. I gotta say the football scenes are intense, but again the editing really does a number on the film itself. Thankfully the performances keep it from being totally unbearable.
Any Given Sunday seems to be the football movie that football fans would despise but movie fans would probably like. It takes the NFL to task for choosing money over players' well-being. No wonder they refused to support the film. Overall, I think it's a good watch but not something I'd ever go back to.