Monday, June 22, 2015

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Your typical big budget 90s sports movie, Oliver Stone Style

Seeing this ensemble casted, sports drama makes you wonder if the egomaniac tendencies of Oliver Stone are clearly evident here as he pulls a few tricks in providing an intriguing story set around the American football scene, and with an excessive running time. He gives us a dose of slow-motion sequences, black and white fading, quick cuts, and other gimmicks. It does take a while before the viewer is able to settle down to living the plot.

"Any Given Sunday" tells of the working conditions both on and off the football field. The film is a typical sports movie and has to take in many plotlines. Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) is coach of the fictional Miami Sharks team. They are in a losing streak and he feels his team coming apart. D’Amato also needs to contend with his disruptive family life, as a divorcee who never seems to have time to see his kids. His passion for football is very evident, yet he feels frustrated with the intrusions of the female owner of the team, Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz). In a man’s world, she is a new breed. Making a profit is more important than the traditions. She also fights with the esteemed position that her late father held in society. She wants to succeed in her own right. 

The season turns bleak when ageing player Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) is hurt with a potentially career-ending injury. D’Amato has to rely on the brash, unproven talent of Willie ‘Steaming’ Beamen (Jamie Foxx) to lead his team out of trouble. Willie has trouble as a leader. His maturity is not yet developed, and his selfishness causes the team to unravel. D’Amato has a real dilemma on his hands. Oliver Stone shows us the ugly side of the sport – the temptation of fame, money, affluent lifestyles, and the exploitation of players. His use of dramatic and photographic overkill is frustrating, though. 

The script is slightly complicated and the ideas for the Jamie Foxx character are mysterious. He is the flashy new football star, yet Foxx’s acting didn’t generate much interest for me. Al Pacino is his usual dynamic self, turning up the volume as Stone would want. Cameron Diaz does another unusual turn and continues to build herself up into a fine character actress. James Woods, as the team doctor, turns in another fine performance. It is recommended that the soundtrack be given a good listen. Featuring Fatboy Slim and Moby, it is great value. 

Stone has been plagued, in as many years, with big budget overkill within his films. Perhaps he should be asked to have a set budget of a smaller scale to force his hand in great filmmaking techniques again. Above all, however, the fact remains that this is an American sports movie with a familiar story and cameos by many former American football greats including Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Dick Butkus, Johnny Unitas, Pat Toomay, Warren Moon, Y. A. Tittle, Terrell Owens,  Ricky Watters, Emmitt Smith & Barry Switzer besides good actors like Charlton Heston, James Woods, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine,  Lauren Holly, Aaron Eckhart, John C. McGinley and more

Certainly, this flick would be recommended for such fans because there is good material to grasp Stone’s out-of-control motives. It may not be that accommodating to the other side. Dung Le


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