Monday, September 04, 2006


As I was watching Disney's very enjoyable "Invincible," I couldn't help but think back to another recent Disney (or at least Buena Vista) sports movie, "Glory Road." Everything that "Glory Road" got wrong, "Invincible" got just about dead right.

The biggest difference between the two was the makers of "Invincible" understood from the beginning that, no matter how moving the story of Vince Papale is, it is just one man's story. It isn't, as Disney tried to sell us with "Glory Road," a "moment that changed the world."

It's just a great sports story, very well told. For anyone who doesn't know, it's the story of Vince Papale, a Philly bartender played by Marky Mark who tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1975 or so and ended up making the team for three years.

And from the outset in this one, it definitely feels like 70s Philly. Anyone who's ever been there knows Philly can be a colorful place, and "Invincible" delivers that without ever overselling it. The scene where the TV guy shows up to interview Vince, only to have a bar patron trying to piss on the sidewalk in the background, captures it in a nutshell.

And Marky Mark, who I've always liked, gives his best performance since "Boogie Nights" as our hero (and, I'm pleased to report, though he does stop to look in a mirror at one point, he never whips out his fake enormous third leg.) Greg Kinnear continues his banner year with a believable turn as Dick Vermeil, and Elizabeth Banks fares well as the barmaid/love interest (though I wonder how many times they had to shoot the scene before she managed that unique New York pronunciation of the word "Eagles.")

But what really makes this all work is that Papale's friends look like exactly the kind of working folk who would get so much from living vicariously through him. It's the reason we all watch sports (or at least the reason I do.) It's why I hope former Houston County star Willie Reid, now a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers (also at wide receiver), has a long, successful career, though of course I've never met him. Or why I wish Middle Georgia native Chansey Stuckey, now a senior at Clemson and most likely headed for the NFL, only the best. If sports ever fail to engage us that directly in the game, they'll lose us as fans, and that's why the Vince Papale story resonates so deeply in "Invincible."

Just before the big finale, I was wondering to myself when it would all end, but within five minutes of that thought first crossing my mind, the movie was over, ending just like it should.

Well, I guess I've made it abundantly clear how much I liked this one, so I'll just close with a sincere thank you to all of you who managed to make it through the weekend without seeing "The Wicker Man." Counting through Sunday, "Invincible" was on top of the box office for a second week, with "The Wicker Man" finishing third (and only $2 million ahead of "Little Miss Sunshine"!)

Please, please stay strong and just say no to "The Wicker Man," and enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. Peace out.


Divinity said...

I think I'll rent the original Wicker Man just for fun next weekend...
My favourite Marky Mark appearance is The Big Hit. I love how it parodies the typical hitman movie.

Reel Fanatic said...

The Big Hit was indeed a blast, Divinity ... After seeing him start in the awful Basketball Diaries (at least I seem to remember he was in that), I didn't have high hopes, but he has turned into a damn good actor

Divinity said...

A blast, literally at times :)
He wasn't bad in Rock Star either from what I remember. I didn't actually watch the whole movie. I worked at the theatre and would drop in for screen checks every so often...

themarina said...

I completely agree. I saw both films and although I enjoyed "Glory Road" "Invincible" is by far the better movie. I really enjoyed it and yes, Wahlberg brought in a great performance.


newbluebaby said...

A great review of Invincible! I totally agree. The movie that sold Walhlberg as a good actor to me was "I Heart Hukabees". Up until then he seemed just like a one-note actor, but he was hysterical in that movie.

This role in Invincible was perfect for him.

Reel Fanatic said...

Have to second what you said I heart huckabees, new blue baby ... I had to see three times before I started to get it, but he was definitely great in it