The year was 1999 and a perfect storm was brewing. It had NFL style action, movie stars, from tantalizing director Oliver Stone and to top it all off, I was seeing it for the first time as a 14-years-old idiot. The film is Any Given Sunday and it’s a monster. Both good and bad but it’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s almost mesmerizing. Let’s crawl through the SBS Film Vault and enjoy one of my favorites.
This one has it all. It’s like the Ocean’s Eleven of football movies. The stars include: Al Pacino, Jaime Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, James Woods, Mathew Modine, Aaron Eckhart, Bill Bellamy, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Elizabeth Berkley, Charlton Heston, John C. McGinley, Ann-Margret, Andrew Bryniarski (Lattimer from The Program), Lela Rochon, and Lauren Holly. If that doesn’t get your Hollywood beak wet then I don’t know what will.
Filmmaker, Oliver Stone, is famous for his flashy pics like Natural Born Killers, JFK and Platoon. His take on football is both fun and annoying. It’s totally over-the-top filmmaking that leans on the uber-dramatic. He honors the in game play with hyper-serious moments that deify the sport. It’s glorious and unreal. It slows down the game and lets the details breathe. Then, cranks up the action for a bone-crunching hit.
– Cameron Diaz playing the evil boss bitch. She does it well and looks fierce. The great twist on this tired trope is that she knows the game of football really well and isn’t just some mean airhead.
– LL Cool J and Bill Bellemy partying with girls and doing powder drugs of their breasts. I didn’t even know that was a thing until this movie. For that alone, I thank Mr. Stone, from the bottom of my 14-year-old heart.
– Jamie Foxx’s character Willie Beamen’s super dope music video. Looking back, it’s hard to tell this isn’t a real thing. Call Total Request Live and vote for our boy Fox and think, this is all pre-Gold Digger.
– Willie Beamen pukes before every game. Great detail and fun texture that makes it all feel legit. These are the things that athletes see and understand. Small details go a long way.
– All the inventive end zone dances. The NFL has since banned celebrations that involve multiple people but the ones featured in Any Given Sunday are excellent. This one is my favorite. I call it the “atomic bomb.”
– *******SPOILER ALERT*******
The Miami Sharks lose at the end but it’s okay. This is this the harder ending to pull off and they totally do it. This is the real spirit of football. You lose but you see the potential for the future. Football lesson here.
The worst parts are where Stone takes us a detour that makes you think he’s never seen NFL action and he is just trying to make his Raging Bull. Lighting flashes, strange audio cues, weird editing effects show me that the author doesn’t get football because the real drama of the game is better than anything else.
No joke, this is still one of the nest NFL-esque movies ever. It’s captures the game in all its levels. It doesn’t always work but it swings at all the pitches and for that, I love it.