Thursday, February 01, 2007


Ericson Core | 2006 | 105 min | US

Mark Wahlberg is great at playing sad little schmucks + he proves so here again. This film's particular schmuck is Vince Papale, a guy with too little work + too many problems with his wife during the economically depressed Philadelphia of the mid seventies. Not only is half the city on the brink of poverty, but the legacy Eagles football club sucks shit. Dick Vermeil (a solid Greg Kinnear) is the young college coach brought on to try anything to help the team. In an effort to generate a little excitement for his new tenure, Vermeil's first strategy is to hold open try outs for the Eagles training camp. The thirty year old Papale attends at the goading of his barfly friends + becomes the only local invited to attend camp. The story follows his trials + successes on the field as he becomes the inspiration for a city desperate for inspiration. This is a TRUE STORY. Kind of.

This is Core's first feature as a director after working on several films as a cinematographer. He pulls double duty here, keeping lots of concentration on the urban landscape + seemingly filming everything in orange or green. The aesthetic tries to never let you forget you are in the seventies. If it slips your mind for a moment, don't worry. You're never more than a minute away from a blaring Canned Heat track. I have to say, though, this film looks + sounds great. The period look + soundtrack are carefully chosen to good effect.

Invincible does a very wonderful job of placing the viewer on the field in the middle of the action. You really get the sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer spectacle the way I'm sure rookies do when they run out of the tunnel for the first time. Lots of bright lights + noise bearing down on you in a massive dome.

A lot of liberties are taken with the actual gameplay of the matches we see on screen. I found that unfortunate, but it does serve to heighten the dramatic effect a great deal. I also think the football action is perhaps a bit too chaotic, again likely in an attempt to make the action more appealing to non-football viewers, but it is too frenetic if you actually want to see plays unfold. The superior Friday Night Lights did a much better job in that respect, but I know Invincible is far less about football than it is about the Indomitable Human Spirit. And there are overwrought strings + slow motion scenes a plenty to play along with that theme. But hey, this is a Disney movie. Let something touch your icy heart for once, you miserable son of a bitch.

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