Friday, February 17, 2012

In Select Theaters Now -- Undefeated (Review)


Academy–Award© nominated documentary UNDEFEATED is set in the inner- city of Memphis chronicling the Manassas Tigers’ 2009 football season, on and off-the-field, as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history.

A perennial whipping boy, in recent decades Manassas had gone so far as to sell their home games to the highest bidder, but that all changed in the spring of 2004 when Bill Courtney, a former high school football coach turned lumber salesman, volunteered to lend a hand.

When he arrived, the team consisted of 17 players, some timeworn equipment and a patch of grass masquerading as a practice field.

Focusing more on winning young men than football games, the football program nevertheless began resurrecting itself and, in 2009, features the most talented team Manassas has ever fielded; a team that seems poised to end the playoff jinx that has plagued the school since time immemorial.

A coming-of-age documentary film, Undefeated provides audiences an intimate view of an underprivileged group of teens and their inspirational coach, as they attempt to make history.
Genre: Documentary
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: February 17, 2012 (NY & LA)*expansion pending
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 113 minutes
Talent: Bill Courtney (Coach, Manassas Tigers football team)
Chavis (Player, Manassas High School football team)
Montrail “Money” (Player, Manassas High School football team)
O.C. (Player, Manassas High School football team)

Directors: Dan Lindsay & T.J. Martin
Screenwriter: None. Documentary
Producers: Rich Middlemas, Seth Gordon, Ed Cunningham, Glen Zipper

My Thoughts:

Like I have said in the past, with two young children at home, it is sometimes hard to get out to the theaters and see a movie when it is released.  Usually, we wait until it is released on DVD to finally watch it.  But, luckily the kind folks at Grace Hill Media sent me a screener copy of Undefeated to watch this week, prior to its release today.  After seeing the trailer a few weeks back, I had added this movie to my "must see" in theaters movie.  

I am not a big football fan, well really not at all.  I would much prefer to watch baseball, where there seems to be more action, than just running up and down a field, tackling each other.  But, that is my opinion.  I know that in the South, football is a way of life for people.  I witnessed this firsthand when we traveled to Nashville and Atlanta a few years back and saw the crowds and tailgaters at the local football games.  But, I did find myself liking Friday Night Lights the movie and television series -- go figure!

Check out this video about the head coach giving a speech to her football team.  If this doesn't grab you and make you want to see if the boys have a football season to remember, I don't know what will.

What I loved most about this how Bill Courtney, a former lumber salesman volunteered to help turn the Manassas Tigers football team around.  In addition to being an underfunded school, the football team had poor equipment, terrible practicing facilities and only 17 players.  Their dream of a successful football season for slim to none.  But, Bill Courtney believed in them, and within 5 years of his arrival, he turned the team around and brought them towards playoffs, and making history.  While the team got better on the field, they also grew as men, learning about teamwork, discipline and that dreams can come true.  They could see that Coach Courtney believed in them, and in turn, they began believing in themselves.  This movie is truly heartfelt and moving.  I was on the edge of my seat, crossing my figures that they would make it to the playoff.  Did they? And, did they win?  You will have to see this movie for yourself to find out.

If you liked the television series, "Friday Night Lights", love football, or just a fan of inspiring documentaries, then you must see Undefeated.  It will not only warm your heart, but makes for a great family film to watch together.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this movie in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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