Any Given Sunday
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Released in time for the start of the 2000 NFL season, Any Given Sunday is Oliver Stoneís expose on the seedy underbelly of professional football. It offers us a rare glimpse at what goes on behind the locker room doors in a both violent and honest portrayal. We watch as players, coaches and owners clash in hostile confrontations both on and off the field.
Struggling mid-season, the Miami Sharks head coach Tony DíAmato (played by Al Pacino) must cope with losing his veteran quarterback Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) to injury, only to have him replaced by a brash young superstar, Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx). As egos collide and tempers flare, the Sharks personnel problems consume the team as they approach the playoffs. As the season progresses, Pacino must decide whether to replace Beamen once Rooney heals, while under intense pressure from an overbearing team owner (Cameron Diaz).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Oliver Stoneís direction and cinematography are superb as he takes the viewer and transplants them into game situations. Itís obvious his undying love for the craft of filmmaking travels with him into every project he embarks on. The cameras take us in close as we see what happens in the huddle and during plays. Its ripe with interesting characters, witty dialogue and above all, good olí fashioned pigskin action. In contrast, the filmís brutal expose on the playersí private lives is where it truly shines. We often view our favorite sports stars as flawless individuals incapable of doing wrong but Sunday proves otherwise. They succumb to temptation and battle personal demons, just like you and me. The real surprise of this film, however, is the breakout performance of Jamie Foxx who excels in his reckless quarterback role. A great film for football and action genre fans alike.
The DVD includes a 27 minute mini-documentary, "Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday", which originally aired on HBO as part of their First Look series. It helps in spotlighting the effort Stone made to preserve the "realness" of the movie, hiring actual current or former professional football players. Much of it shows footage of the actors involved proclaiming Oliver Stoneís genius or Al Pacinoís legendary film presence, in other words nothing special. Also included is the LL Cool J music video, "Shut ĎEm Down, which features your standard rap video cliches : the dancing babes and champagne shots spliced with game footage. Iíve never seen the video before and wonder whether it was produced exclusively for the DVD. Strangely enough, I preferred the "My Name is Willie" video which airs during the movie, but hey what do I know? The film professes to be a Special Directorís Cut which includes 6 minutes of restored footage. While I had difficulty spotting certain new shots, some were far easier to notice. Most notably, the post game celebration in the bathroom where LL Cool J performs a Tony Montana-esque coke nose dive on a hookerís breast. Yowzas! The other, being a scene where an opposing teamís player proceeds to have his right eyeball ripped out from itís socket. The disc also features fully animated menus complete with pseudo-playbook scene selection options. Nice job.
A solid release. Being a huge football fan, Iím subject to some bias, but I think few will argue that this was a very entertaining film to watch. What it lacks in added features it certainly makes up for in terms of crystal clear picture quality and booming audio. Prior to the release of this movie, THE PROGRAM had my vote for best football movie but itís safe to say that Any Given Sunday made the interception and now runs with that title. Definitely worth a second look.