ANY GIVEN SUNDAY (2000) *** movie review by COOP

Posted on May 14th, 2008
Posted on May 14th, 2008

Oliver Stone’s newest film, “Any Given Sunday”, closely resembles an overly long MTV music video, inter-cut with scenes from the current ESPN football coverage. That’s what you see on the surface. Underneath lies a good script, great performances and a story that actually holds up to the bombardment of flashy images.

The story follows a large ensemble cast, headed by Al Pacino playing Tony D’Amato, the Grizzled coach of the fictional Miami Sharks. As the story opens, Pacino starts the fourth game of a bad season by losing his star quarterback (Dennis Quaid) to a potential career-ending injury. To ad insult to injury, he loses his second-string QB in the next play, sending the green third-stringer Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx) into a trial by fire. Beaman emerges from the next couple of games a hero and soon a media sensation. From there on, the film becomes a story about the price of fame, the sanctity of teamwork, and the redemption of those who have fallen… and this means the entire cast of characters.

These people have a lot of flaws to overcome. Particularly the young heiress-owner (Cameron Diaz), who is so mean and nasty that we want to see her defeated at first. Soon, we get to see that she is human. With a drunk mother (Ann Margaret) and a dead father, you understand why she has a chip on her shoulder. We identify with her struggle to earn respect and succeed. The same goes for the others including Pacino who tries to end what may be his last season with a victory. He drinks too much, he’s a bit of a loser, but he’s got integrity and pride.

The cast is enormous and almost doesn’t have time to focus on any of them for an extended amount of time. Charlton Heston, Jim Brown, James Woods, Mathew Modine, Lauren Holly, Lela Rochon, LL Cool J, and many others play minor roles with story lines that don’t have enough time to be developed thoroughly. There is a subplot surrounding the dangers of playing with serious injuries with doctors and coaches turning a blind eye from the whole thing. Disappointing that no serious consequences arose from these moral lapses.

Performances were good all around. Pacino once again plays himself as a character. Great but no surprises there. Quaid’s performance works in another understated but effective role. Diaz once again proves that she is one of the most versatile new actresses in the business. Going from her role in the amazing “Being John Malkovich” to this shows that she could be the next Meryl Streep if she chooses to continue this trend. Jamie Foxx is the real surprise in this film. Foxx beat out many A-list stars for this role due to his real-life athletic ability as a quarterback. His casting was certainly not a mistake. I hope to see more of him in non-comedy roles in the future.

Stone hasn’t had as much critical luck lately in recreating the success of some of his past masterpieces like “Platoon” or “JFK”. One factor might be that his camera work and the images he uses are becoming more and more abstract. One example is where visuals of a lightning storm are superimposed on a scene in which Foxx and Pacino come to blows over Foxx’s lack of leadership. Is that needed? Probably not, since it distracts from the story draws too much attention to form. However, it seems as if Stone is trying to increase the intensity of the situation for the audience. It works, but a little too well. “Sunday” will leave you exhausted with its 170 minute running time and the loud audio/visual experience will pummel you into submission. Precisely the same effect of watching an exciting gridiron game… I suspect that was Stone’s intention.

Not entirely a great movie but it’s definitely got the entertainment value there. Pro football fans will love it, but beware… if your date won’t sit down and enjoy a football game on occasion, then it’s a good bet they will be bored. As for me I enjoyed the performances and the script, but the rest left me overwhelmed and beaten.

Scale of 1-5:

Best performance:
Jamie Foxx. Going from his C-grade comedy show on the WB network to a terrific performance like this is practically a miracle. Honorable mention to Aaron Eckhart as the team’s press box statistician and high-tech strategist. After seeing him in the vicious art-house film “In the Company of Men”, I knew he would easily make the transfer to mainstream Hollywood.

Biggest gripe:
Too long. Could’ve been cut down to about 2 hours and it wouldn’t have lost any edge. Also some of the characters were a bit stereotyped. The rap video that Foxx does after he sells out is horribly annoying, even if it’s true to real-life super athletes (remember when Shaq O’Neal tried to be a rapper/actor?). Shudder.

Most enjoyable aspect of the movie:
The fictional pro teams. Their mascots, uniforms and fans were great fun to look at, seeming totally alien from the current NFL teams. Strangely enough the Los Angeles Crusaders and the Dallas Knights had the weirdest team names and the ugliest uniforms to ever be worn on a football field. Hidden message there? I think so. Also be on the lookout for former pro football legends (like Johnny Unitas) who show up briefly as the coaches for the opposing teams.

No Comments •


Search Form
Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…

A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival
2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…

Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…

Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…



Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…

My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

Follow Coop on Twitter...
    follow me on twitter
    Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
    Subscribe via Email!

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    Subscribe via RSS feed!