Any Given Sunday

Rated: R
Runtime: 2 Hours and 42 Minutes

Reviewer: Jones
Grade: B-

Over the course of his career, Oliver Stone has tackled rather weighty subjects like Vietnam, presidential assassination and some just flat out fucked up people in the films "Platoon", "JFK", and "Natural Born Killers" respectively. He even helped pen "Conan: The Barbarian" for Christ's sake! So, quite obviously, the next logical step is to make a movie about......professional football? I know I would have done the same thing if I were in his shoes.

Despite the sarcasm, "Any Given Sunday" proves to be an entertaining film if nothing else. It's a movie that wants to have a purpose, but ends up feeling like a movie that wants to have a purpose, rather than really having one.

It is the story of a pro football team called the Miami Sharks and the people that make up the organization. Starting at the top, the owner of the team is played by Cameron Diaz in an interesting diversion from the roles of the rest of her career. She is undeniably a bitch in this film. There is no mistaking it. Daddy turned the reigns of the team over to her and she thinks she knows exactly what she has to do to win.

Opposing her is the team's coach, Al Pacino, who has been in the game for some thirty years, winning a couple of championships along the way. Needless to say he knows a thing or two about what it takes to win.

Other key roles include Dennis Quaid as the aging superstar quarterback, Jamie Foxx as the superstar's would be successor, and James Woods as the ethically-challenged team doctor.
Shit hits the fan early in the film, as Quaid goes down with a herniated disc in his back. The backup quarterback goes in and is immediately injured. This leads to the insertion of Jamie Foxx into the lineup. Prior to his first play, he throws up in the huddle. This is an event that becomes a ritual for him, as he throws up at some point in every game. He makes some big plays, gets the crowd behind him, and gets the owner behind him. Problem is, he doesn't get the team behind him. Quaid was a leader of men, whereas Foxx is in it for himself. He changes plays to his liking, which does nothing but piss off Pacino and his teammates.
It all leads up to the inevitable big game, which concludes virtually every sports movie ever made. You know it's coming, but this time around you actually welcome it. Cameron realizes how much of a bitch she's been, Jamie learns that winning isn't everything, and Dennis learns when enough's enough.

The main thing this film has going for it is the performances. Cameron Diaz is wonderful in this role. You not only want to hate her. You DO hate her. What a conniving bitch she is! Pacino essentially does what he always does, but this time around he throws a slightly different shade on the character to make it feel entirely different than what you have seen him do before. Amazingly enough, Jamie Foxx manages not to detract from the movie. He's not terribly special, but not bad either. Even L.L. Cool J is competent! I actually didn't want him to die in this film. Tell me that's not fucked up. I remember watching "Deep Blue Sea" and wanting nothing more than to watch him die a slow painful death. Preferably in that oven. It didn't happen and I was pissed for awhile, but I guess I got over it. I actually found myself enjoying his screen time. Definitely a change of pace for good ol' L.L. One last performance that deserves mention, is that of Lawrence Taylor as an aging linebacker who is becoming damaged goods. He gives a very real performance. I suppose he culled some past experiences from his days in the NFL for his role. A wonderful performance that has more weight to it than the rest of the movie combined.

This film's primary problem is it's length. It's about 45 minutes too long. I found myself being rather bored until the last half of the film when shit starts to go down for the major characters in the film. From that point on it held my attention to the closing credits. It's just that it took it too long to get there. Another thing that I have a problem with is that there is a scene involving an injury on the field that exists for nothing more than shock value. I was sitting there wondering where the fuck it came from. Totally pointless. I still don't know why it was there, other than to shock the viewer anyway.

All that aside, the film manages to entertain once it finds it's legs. If you like football, check it out. It offers a lot of insight into what goes on behind closed doors for a professional sports team. If you don't enjoy a hearty game of football then you will probably want to take a pass, as it won't really have anything to hold your attention.