Wednesday, August 09, 2006

MovieWatch: "Invincible"

Director: Ericson Core
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 68
In a Nutshell: In case you've been snoozing, Disney has made a cottage industry out of these quickly produced real-life underdog sports sagas. On the sliding scale of recent Mouse House offerings, I put "Invincible" -- the story of walk-on Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale -- in the solid middle ground between the highlights of "Miracle" and "The Rookie" and the generic lowlights of "Remember the Titans" and "Glory Road." Interestingly, "Invincible" -- which has been stuck with an atrocious title that suggests a superhero movie more than anything -- is the least ham-handedly manipulative of the lot, which will probably take away some of its audience. Marky Mark Wahlberg's Papale is a fairly miserable sort -- he's unemployed, his wife leaves him, his factory worker friends are all similarly depressing -- and even when opportunity presents itself, he greets it with skepticism, rather than optimism for nearly two hours. In short, he responds in the way an actual person in his situation might. Thus, it's hard to see how he inspires his fellow sad-sack Eagles and it's even hard to see what he brings to the team, beyond grim determination. That kind of darkness struck me as an interesting departure from the formula. Yes, we're accepted to believe that Vince Papale gave Philly the lift it needed when the entire city was down -- just like the 1980 US Hockey team helped us conquer our dependence on foreign oil and the Texas Western basketball team single-handedly ended racism in this country -- but there's no comic relief, only token romance (Elizabeth Banks, who still has yet to find the right vehicle to make her the semi-star she may be capable of being) and the fat offensive linemen don't pause mid-story to do a sing-along to a Motown number. There will be quibblers. Wahlberg looks like an athlete, but he looks like a tiny athlete, when the real Papale was an NFL-sized player, if nothing else. The football action isn't particularly well-staged. And until I hear otherwise, I'm very very skeptical that Veterans Stadium had a quarter-mile track around the football field, as seems to be the case in several overhead shots. But still, as folks who know me are aware, I just movies like this one a single criteria: Do they make me get misty-eyed? This one did.

The full review will be up on Zap2it at some point. Aug. 28, maybe?


  1. WOA...I cannot believe you rated it so high...

    well, if it's not as good as the Rookie than I will probably pass...sometimes these movies are torturous...

    We watched Coach Carter earlier in the year...and about painful.

    --RC of

  2. "Invincible" is solidly better than Coach Carter. I can say that much with some certainty. As to whether "Invincible" is more of a "68" movie or more of a "66" or a "65," I can only plead that my Fien Print Ratings system feels like a bit of a crock to me as well. I just can't bring myself to surrender and kick it down to being out of 10 or out of 5.

  3. There was no track around the football field at the Vet, but there is one at Franklin Field, where I know they shot some tryout scenes.

    What hurts most from the previews is how badly they CGI'd the Vet seating arrangemement. There are three tiers of sections within the upper deck, and it looks like there's just one here.

  4. Adam,

    Yup. I figured it was just laziness that they had the overhead shots of Franklin Field and just didn't bother to rub out the track. Once you're adding an entire CGI oval around Franklin Field, though, you'd think they could just take two seconds go, "Hmmm... since the Phillies were playing in The Vet as well, there probably wasn't a track" and then pulled some digital magic.

    You're right that they don't have the exact seating arrangement in The Vet down.

    And yet? Still liked the movie... Didn't love it. But liked it...


  5. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Okay...this has nothing to do with this movie, but have you heard that Eric Balfour is coming back to 24?

    I credit (or maybe blame) your campaign to get him back on tv this season.

  6. I heard that a couple weeks back from a friend with insider knowledge. And I'd be lying if I said that the news didn't fill me with a great measure of happiness!

    I should, in fact, probably write a blog entry on the subject.

    However -- and here's my true problem -- "24" doesn't premiere until January. What to do til then?

    Yeah. This should probably be its own entry...

    Go Eric!