The veteran star quarterback is sacked at injured in less than ten seconds. He’s replaced by the second stringer who is also sacked and injured in even less amount of time. The defense score off the sack and the Miami Sharks get the ball back. The coach is screwed. He has to now rely on his third string quarterback to win the game and perhaps carry the team the rest of the season. If things aren’t bad enough, the team is barely holding on for a playoff birth and if they don’t make it, the coach is definitely going to be fired by the money hungry owner.
This is a great setup for a great movie about a really complicated football team. The players on the team and the cast include: Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino), the owner, Christina Pagniachi (Cameron Diaz), the veteran QB, Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid), the third string turned superstar QB Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx), the egocentric running back, Julian (LL Cool J), the veteran and loyal linebacker Shark (Lawrence Tillman) and the slime-ball trainer Harvey (James Woods). The movie is also directed by the self proclaimed Oliver Stone.
The movie, like all of Stone’s movies, is about character development during a hellish period of their lives. The D’Amato is afraid of change and the corporate sponsors’ take over of the sport, Cap is afraid of being replaced and his own mortality, Christina is trying to sellout the team for her own capitol success, Beaman is trying to balance leading his team and being engulfed with superstardom, Julian is afraid that his life in the limelight is running out and he will lose interest of possible endorsements, Shark is afraid that his multiple head injuries will end his career early, and well, the trainer is just a crooked womanizer.
The movie is a cool look at the violence and intensity of football. It’sAmerica’s (as well as mine) favorite sport and we are shown how the favoritism has sometimes exploited the decency of the game. “Any Given Sunday” has great scenes of action on the grid iron and convincing drama between the actors. If only Stone didn’t love himself or glorify his talent so much that he makes the movie go over the top at times. His motifs of old players and silhouettes of the memory of classic football are over-killed and make the movie about 30-45 minutes too long. It’s still a really cool movie though.