Two Sports Movies from Disney
Glory Road (June 10/06)
Glory Road is a typically predictable, thoroughly routine Disney sports flick that's elevated by star Josh Lucas' superb performance and a few genuinely heartwarming moments. Lucas plays Don Haskins, a struggling basketball coach who's offered a job at Texas Western and immediately shakes things up by recruiting more black players than white. Though his superiors have their doubts, Haskins' penchant for winning games quickly wins them over. Glory Road's similarities to various other sports movies (particularly Hoosiers) are impossible to ignore, and there are consequently few surprises to be had within the film's admittedly overlong running time. This is true even of the movie's character-building sequences, which are as obvious and obtrusive as one might have expected (ie there's a scene in which a couple of the black players offer up a lesson in urban slang for the benefit of their white teammates). Director James Gartner generally does an effective job of infusing the movie with brief instances of style, though the filmmaker's relentless use of quick cuts during the many basketball sequences lends such moments an incoherent and overwhelming feel. And although Glory Road will undoubtedly work better among viewers who haven't seen a whole lot of sports movies, it's ultimately rather difficult not to get caught up in this inspirational true-life tale.
Remember the Titans (June 13/06)
Though Remember the Titans and Glory Road share similar storylines - a controversial coach shakes things up in a racist town - Remember the Titans remains the superior movie, due primarily to Denzel Washington's commanding, thoroughly charismatic performance. The story revolves around the efforts of black coach Herman Boone (Washington) to lead a newly-integrated high school football team to victory, despite opposition from racist administrators and townspeople. There's not much within Remember the Titans that viewers haven't seen countless times before, but the skill with which the film has been imbued - coupled with a whole host of stellar performances - quickly proves impossible to resist. While Gregory Allen Howard's script contains all the expected touchstones of the genre, the screenwriter does a nice job of transforming these many characters into figures worth rooting for. Aside from an obvious case of overlength, the film's only real flaw is a needless emphasis on the racial issues surrounding Boone's presence as coach; there's an unavoidable feeling of repetition to such moments, the majority of which come off as heavy-handed and utterly needless. Still, that's a minor complaint for a film that's otherwise surprisingly engaging - even for viewers with little or no interest in football.