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Remember the Titans (DVD, 2006, Unrated Extended)
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Remember the Titans: Remember the Message Not the Movie
Apr 9, 2001 (Updated Apr 9, 2001)
Review by ChrisJarmick
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Great message, Denzel and Will Patton in top form.
Cons:Predictable, safe, cliche'd, manipulative in the most negative sense of the word.
The Bottom Line: A safe film with an important message. Washington and Patton overcome a bad script delivering strong performances.
Do you have a high tolerance level for well-meaning formula films that pushes all the expected buttons, covers all the cliche's and delivers a safe sugar coated finale? How about if it involves some excellent actors who manage to make even some of the most amateurishly written plot point coverage type scenes seem dramatic rather than then merely formulaic?
Recommend this product?
It's 1971 and it's time for a high school in Alexandria Virginia to be integrated. This means that a black football coach from North Carolina is about to take over the team from a white coach who has won many trophies and gotten many college scholarships for his players. Denzel Washington is Coach Boone and Will Patton is Coach Yoast. Wonderful actors who are able to bring the utmost conviction to almost any role they are assigned. Denzel can deliver speeches and corny lines so well you almost forget how you've heard these types of speeches in films since the 1930's.
Battle lines are drawn between the most conservative in the town and the most liberal and between black and white. There's some serious racism going on, but it's soft pedaled and folded into the story of the football team. Winning it turns out, by the way is everything for this football team. Can the whites and black find a way to play together, become a team together, and maybe even understand each other? Can the team win the big games it needs to? Can Coach Yoast work under Coach Boone and help lead a new integrated team to victory?
There's never any doubt where this predictable film will lead. It's based on a true story so I suppose one can pretend it's okay that we know what will happen next –because it really did happen, right? Oh there's one unexpected twist that occurs to one of the supporting characters keeping the film from being 100 percent predictable. But this happens far too late in the film to help all the much.
Remember The Titans is a message movie. It's message is about racism and how a high school football team helped a town become racially tolerant. At times it seems to stretch credibility pretty thin, but because it's based on a true story, we'll over-look some gaping gaffes (and multi camera ESPN type coverage of a high school football game back in the early 70's).
Do I need to tell you this is an absolutely awful film shamelessly put together by hack film-makers to manipulate the dullest of those in the audience? Can I possibly convince anyone that it wastes the talents of some excellent actors who should have demanded script re-writes and that a much better film be made from this material?
It's the utter mediocrity of the film and the importance of the message that insures this film the success it has had. People will defend it against attacks by snobby film critics because it's almost a family-safe film and features some well respected actors delivering a worthwhile message. It's a Disney film directed by Boaz Yakin and written by Gregory Allen Howard.
Most film-goers aren't going to object too strongly with the crass and now very cliche'd ways music is used throughout the film. As is done in too many films these days, music is used not just to evoke a time period but to pound home a mood and message and deliver emotions to the audience that bad writing and hack film-making can't do on it's own. The worst example of this is the mis-use of a song and artist I like very much. When finally, some black/white issue are being resolved and the team is coming closer together, the soundtrack offers us ‘ Peace Train' by Cat Stevens for about 45 seconds.
Now if after that description, you are shrugging so-what or don't quite understand why I'm being so nit-picky about this.... you will enjoy this film thoroughly. See it.
It's also a film younger viewers should see for its message. I hope they don't become too tolerant or hack film-making because of movies like this though.
A lot of people aren't going to notice how several scenes seem inserted as little exclamation points between other scenes and put characters together before they have developed any respect for each other or while they are building bridges. You see if you don't like someone very much or fear them, you aren't going to go out of your way to have long conversations with them apart from other people in public places. People notice, gossip etc.
Many will no doubt over-look how the black players on the team don't seem to have any second thoughts about the black football team they used to play on, how some of them won't be playing at all anymore since they have to share team positions with white players–same number of positions and back-ups on the team, but now more players competing for them. We also have no idea what happened to the black high school or the former black coach. We know about the white people in the film but we don't learn too much about the black people, except that Coach Boone means change and the black people in Alexandria Virginia want change and to be given a chance to live side by side with whites.
Most of the characters are presented as caricatures... as types, cliche's you've seen in a thousand other films before. They don't need to be explained too much because you know who they are already. There's also just one memorable female character in the entire film. She's an obnoxious little girl who is an unsportsman-like sports fan screaming at her coach father and players from the sidelines at practice and at first exhibits racist tendencies. She's used as a device more than a character and it spotlights how so much of this film is made as a tract for it's important message rather than an important film with a message. It's a man's world you know. We aren't given shades of gray in this film–not with characters, not with points of view, and not with perspectives.
In other words the movie plays it safe every step of the way. You'd think in 2000, it wouldn't have to play it that safe. But I guess that's not the case.
All that matters in the film is the message. That message is about team-work. And if team-work has nothing to do with race, creed or color. . . than why should there be any room for racism anywhere in the world?
Great message. There's some great actors in the film and I'm not going to shake my fingers and say shame on everyone who enjoyed such a terrible movie--- It might be terrible... but it's not worthless.
Let me give the message a big 5.0 on the 1 to 5 rating scale.
Let me give the acting in the film over-all a big 4.0 .
The direction gets a 2.0 and only because the director obviously knew to let his actors do what they do best.
The script gets a ½ star. The director and stars may have made some changes that made it worse... we won't know. This is truly a dreadful script taking a true story and manipulating it into a below average movie of the week, afterschool special type of film.
There are too many 12, 13 and even 40 year olds that need to hear the message of this film over and over again for me to not give it a mild recommendation. So I'll say it again... as a film it's terrible, but it is not a worthless film.
Christopher Jarmick,is the author of The Glass Coccon with Serena F. Holder a steamy suspense thriller which is now available (glasscocoon@hotmail for details).
Original portions of this review Copyright© Christopher J. Jarmick 2001. The above work is protected by international copyright law.
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