In terms of finding someone to look up to, heroes are scarce in
American cinema. Superheroes, antiheroes, comic book heroes abound, but
an uncompromising, generous-spirited Everyman is notably absent,
despite there being a huge draw for him and a vacuum for good family
Enter My All-American, financed primarily by Bud Brigham, (a Texas oilman and prominent UT Alum) and written/ directed by Angelo Pizzo. (screenwriter, Rudy and Hoosiers) My All-American is a football story, and Freddie Steinmark is Everyman. He's a kind, generous, hard-working fellow who becomes the starting safety for the 1969 National Championship Football Team, the Texas Longhorns. Writer/director Angelo Pizzo introduces us to Freddie as a child, with sandlot dreams of playing football at Notre Dame, but Notre Dame thinks he's too small. (There are early echoes to Pizzo's prior film Rudy here.) Rather than force his way onto the Notre Dame Football team (like Pizzo's Rudy Ruettiger,) Freddie Steinmark finds a home with Darrell Royal, the iconic head football coach at the University of Texas. Despite his Steinmark's small stature, Royal recognizes his unflappable persistence and effervescent personality and offers Steinmark a football scholarship. What begins as a familiar climb to up the ladder of college football success changes at midpoint, as Steinmark discovers a nagging injury that turns out to be much more serious than first anticipated. Despite some sports personalities deeming the film this generation's Brian's Song, Pizzo does what he does best. He makes us feel like we have never seen this story before.
Finn Wittrock plays Freddie Steinmark with exacting intelligence. He makes thoughts visible; he could tell the story without saying a word. In scene after scene he displays an unswerving loyalty to principle and a strong grasp on the diploma of manhood. Aaron Eckhart, as Darrell Royal, has a hard job here. (Royal referred to himself as the Barry Goldwater of college football). Eckhart's portrayal of Royal is measured, as he alternates between an extroverted warmness and a self-controlled, calculating, fear-inducing dominance which helped Royal lead the Horns to three National Championships. Juston Street, portrays his own father and UT quarterback James Street with swashbuckling candor and verve. In terms of supporting roles, he is the standout here. But Rett Terrell deserves mention, portraying Steinmark's roommate, Bobby Mitchell, with a steady stoicism and unexplored depth.
My All-American is above all, a relationship movie. For those who seek love stories, there is a beautiful one here. Freddie Steinmark and Linda Wheeler are high school sweethearts who go to college together, and then are asked to endure the strain of facing a serious illness. Sarah Bolger (as Linda Wheeler) displays her own form of heroism; she is bright, playful, and child-like, yet stern and has the fortitude to confront Freddie's illness with an inflexible determinism, resolve and wisdom beyond her years. And Gloria Steinmark, Freddie's mother, is adeptly played by Robin Tunney. As the matriarch of the family, Tunney, presents Gloria with a steely strength and sympathetic tension, as she is caught between her love for her son and her ambition for him.
In addition to an outstanding cast, My All-American's score, by composer John Paesano, is exquisite. His score highlights the scenes with just the right mix of melodic emotionality.
While we are wholly unprepared for Steimark's untimely prognosis, Pizzo, leaves us with a form of Steinmark unbent by the weight of his sorrowful circumstances, and a heart adorned hope and love and fearlessness. The film infuses a new life and a new courage in the hearts of every movie goer: May we all face life's obstacles with Freddie Steinmark's courage and enthusiasm.
Action / Biography / Drama / Sport
Action / Biography / Drama / Sport
What Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) wants most in the world is to play football. Although he is deemed too small by the usual athletic standards, his father trains him hard. Freddie brings a fight to the game that ultimately gets him noticed--by none other than legendary University of Texas coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). Awarded a scholarship and a chance to play for the Longhorns, Freddie sets off to Austin with his loving high school sweetheart, Linda (Sarah Bolger), determined to make the team. Alongside his old teammate Bobby Mitchell (Rett Terrell) and new pal James Street (Juston Street), Freddie is put through the paces of a grueling practice schedule. The boys' camaraderie off the field translates into solid playing on it, and they rise up the depth charts, giving the Longhorns a real chance to improve upon their mediocre record. But just when they're reveling in the success of the season, Freddie suffers an injury that leads to a shocking diagnosis and the biggest ...
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February 11, 2016 at 01:35 PM