Any Given Sunday

AnyGivenSundayThis 1999 film’s fast paced filming by director Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) matches the football action and the intense acting performances.  Any Given Sunday has a great cast, director, and film crew who produce a workout for the senses that pushes the entertainment envelope.  But how much is too much?  When do we say, “media overload!”  Probably when the film has four editors like this one.  Stone uses numerous camera techniques and overlays (similar to his 1994 Natural Born Killers) to tell a tough, violent story of football for the front office to the players’ locker room.  Cameron Diaz plays the Miami Sharks’ general manager/team owner, Christina Pagniacci, who works with experienced coach/uncle Tony D’Amato, intensely played by Al Pacino, to get the team into the playoffs and succeed as a business.

When Cap, the star quarterback (Dennis Quaid), gets injured, the young Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx) steps in and revives his NFL career.  This film has a few fun jokes along the way and Foxx’s character is no exception as he gets the only piece of staged comedy.  Unfortunately, Beaman works against his teammates that include characters played by LL Cool J, Lawrence Taylor, an unrecognizable Bill Bellamy, and others.  Team relations worsen as trainer Dr. Harvey Mandrake (James Woods) exercises some questionable practices as his intern trainer, Dr. Allie Powers (Matthew Modine) learns the role of doctoring football players.  Jim Brown plays Tony’s assistant coach, Montezuema Monroe, Charlton Heston plays the commissioner and Johnny Unitas is an opposing team’s head coach.  Christina’s mom (Ann Margaret), Cap’s wife (Lauren Holly), Lela Rochon (Beaman’s girlfriend) also factor into the plot that has good closure for each characters even through the ending credits.

This energetic film fills the screen with rapidly moving close-ups to capture the essence of pro football.  You may not enjoy all of the football settings, but you should be able to relate to some of the characters’ situations.  The soundtrack provides tough rap songs to match the explosively violent football scenes and great sound effects heighten this speedy, but entertaining experience especially during two humorous end zone celebrations.   Rated R and recommended with reservations (**1/2).

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