Any Given Sunday

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 07/20/00 20:23:18

"Someone put speed on Oli's cornflakes. Oli did? Oh, say no more."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

When was the last time you saw someone on a football field have their eye ripped out and left plopped on the middle of the 40 yard line? Never? Good, I thought it was just me. So I guess you'd have as hard a time lapping up this steroid laden, nausea inducing, two hour music video as I did. Oliver Stone has always had a knack of turning a good story into a strange experience. As he's gotten older, the chemicals have started to affect him in ways not seen since a kid from my school climbed the Sydney War Memorial building, threw himself off and proclaimed himself to be "a little bit fucked up." But if Stone can make a good story seem like an acid trip, just what can he do with a story so cliché it even rips off Major League? I'll tell you what he can do. Six months of rehab.

Al Pacino is a grizzly old American football coach. He's getting too old for the game, he's lost the respect of the players, the fans, the press and himself. Denis "what wife" Quaid is the crusty old about-to-retire quarterback with a body about to collapse under the strain. Jamie Foxx is the up'n'coming superstar quarterback who "don't 'spect nobody". Cameron Diaz is the grizzly team owner who wants to fold up her tent and move the team to LA. Ever heard that one before? Oh, only in about EVERY BLOODY SPORTS MOVIE EVER.. Sorry to yell, but I'm still feeling the pain here.

At this point, I'd like to take a time out to question the whole Cam Diaz thing. I don't get it. Gentlemen, what are you all so ga-ga about? Is it just me or does Cammy look like she just ran into something at full speed? She has the flattest nose since John Denver 'landed' his airplane into the side of a mountain. Okay, she has breasts. Newsflash, so do I. And so does Elizabeth Berkley, who plays a hooker. She takes off her clothes for Al, which would probably be a lot more entertaining if we hadn't already seen her giving blowjobs to midgets in Showgirls. So much for her claims that she took her shirt off in Showgirls for 'artistic' reasons. Perhaps she was misquoted. It could have been 'autistic' reasons, I suppose. I'm through defending you, Berkles. You've disappointed me once too often.

But I digress, back to the tale. Al's got problems because everyone hates him and he's old and he has to pay for sex. Now, I'm just taking a shot in the dark here, but do you think this might be just a little autobiographical? Fess up, Oliver. Heidi Fleiss got your credit card number?

To be totally fair, Any Given Sunday does a few things right. The actual football action elements are not too foul. I may be a sucker for a sports movie, even a Kevin Costner sports movie (Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams, he was good once), because they all follow a simple formula; Team of goofs look like they'll end up in a losing season, grizzly old over-the-hill star scratches together a bit of confidence, a few talented rookies, a few oddballs, makes it to the big game, manages to win it at the end. No matter what else happens in the movie, be it romance, drugs, politics, sex, asteroid strike or vicious penguin feeding frenzy, they all have the same last half hour, and we dig it. We know it's a replay of every other sports movie, but we dig it. And some idiot in the audience always cheers embarassingly loud. It's often me.

But not here. Noooo, not here. When Stone starts his rapid-fire editing fury, with no shot lasting for longer than 2 seconds (half of them being on cheerleaders' behinds and the rest consisting of close-ups of long, slow motion passes), lunch starts to get active. Seriously, at the twenty minute mark, not only did we have no story yet to speak of, but I seriously considered leaving so as to keep my half digested biryani out of the hair of the woman in front of me. Imagine the feeling in the pit of your stomach if you walked in to find your grandmother having sex with a lawyer. Sorry for the image, but maybe now you understand my pain.

There's just nothing to boast about in Any Given Sunday. It's over-directed, over-edited, under-acted, mis-cast, the dialogue is drowned out by crowd noise and music and when it isn't, it's in ebonics so they could be asking where the cheese shop is for all I know.

There's a bit of violence, which is good. There's a real sense of the hurt with every hit, which is good. But there's also three, count 'em, three scenes where the good guys win games with a player getting hit by two guys and flipped into the air on the touchdown line, landing hard on his back, not dying and saving the day with a last minute score.

Show me the money? Show me the bloody writer.

Every sports movie has it's critical downside, but the real good ones can surpass them. Youngblood got the pulse racing despite Rob Lowe being about as hockey player-like as Gary Coleman. Rocky survived the fact that Sylvester Stallone is retarded. For Love Of The Game had great game action, despite constantly cutting away to Kevin Costner's vanity-induced romance flashbacks. Major League was funny even though it starred Corbin Bernsen. Varsity Blues survived the 'ew factor' of James Van Der Beek. And Bull Durham was just all over groovy.

But Any Given Sunday is gobshite. Expensive, flashy, star-studded gobshite with no real story and no redeeming features beyond a bit of the old argy-bargy and a big name director who seems to have less of a grip on reality than your average Pokemon fan.

If mafia hitmen are waiting for you outside every other movie showing in your area, then sure, go see Any Given Sunday. But personally, I'd take my chances with Guido.

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