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"Any Given Sunday"

Directed by Oliver Stone.
Written by John Logan and Oliver Stone.
Starring Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Release Year:  1999
Review Date:  12/23/99


Merry Christmas!  Since this will probably be the last review that I write before the celebrated birth of Christ, I thought it might be prudent to throw that in there.

Let me get right to the point:  “Any Given Sunday” is a great, great movie.  It is hard to call it a masterful stroke of genius, mind you, but it is entertaining to both the hard-core football fan and the relative newbie.  Oliver Stone pictures, as many of you know, tend to flirt with the controversial; “JFK,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and “Natural Born Killers” all fall into this category, but Stone had never tried sports before this movie.  And man, can he cover some topics:  in the 175 minutes that he gives himself for this movie, he somehow gets in dirty ownership tactics, the impact of TV ratings on a team's payroll, blacks in management, dirty medical schemes, celebrity athlete groupie sex, over-the-hill veterans and their need for the game, incentive-laden contracts, and the effect of the passing game on fan attendance.  And, oh yeah, actual football games, of which there is lots of action to provide.

Some might say that all of this might overwhelm you over the course of three hours, but I assure you, this is the most consistently energetic movie of the year.  Al Pacino—playing the same Al Pacino we have all come to know and love, but his role this time is an aging head football coach for the Miami Sharks, the fictional team we follow through the course of the movie—is great once again as he barks at players, spars with management (led by Cameron Diaz, playing an absolute bitch very well), waxes poetic with random call girls like Elizabeth Berkley (ironically from “Showgirls”), and gives inspirational halftime speeches.  All of the actors in this movie are driving in fifth gear, including a hot role for Jamie Foxx (“In Living Color” is in the rearview mirror) and LL Cool J as the star running back that needs the ball to make his million-dollar bonuses at the end of the season.  There are so many cameos in this movie that I can't even remember them all.  But, look for a lot of familiar NFL current and former players and coaches.  Of note are two:  Dick Butkus is in a hilarious cameo as a rival head coach, and LT—Lawrence Taylor—is the Sharks' middle linebacker and aging veteran with some serious medical history problems and a lot of attitude.  Taylor is surprisingly good, and I expect to see him in a couple more films in the near future after this one.  He handles the non-football scenes very well.

This movie is sort of a cross between Stone's other movies and the frenetic, in-your-face pacing of your 80's Simpson/Bruckheimer productions like “Days of Thunder”—the football scenes are intense, the hitting is really juiced up in a well-equipped theater, and there are multiple confrontations between players and coaches and hookers (that's “bitches” in player-speak) and media personalities.  Plus, there is so much swearing in this movie that you might even be offended by some of the profanity-laced tirades that Pacino, Foxx, and James Woods (playing another dirty character, which marks the 376th time Woods has played a dirty character) unleash on cheerleaders, girlfriends and opposing players.  And, like other movies of the 90s that spell out the imagery for the audience (ala “Armageddon” and its make peace, not war writing on the walls), “Any Given Sunday” is absolutely shameless in many areas, particularly the league's (presumably, the NFL's) treatment of blacks, cheerleaders, and its nonchalance regarding potentially serious injuries to its biggest stars.  But, for some reason, that all works in this movie to perfection, and there are almost no dull moments to speak of.

Add in the fact that this movie has what must be the biggest soundtrack in the history of movies—what looked like, from the credits, about 50 songs, not to mention the movie's original soundtrack—and a ripoff of Deion Sanders' music video “Must Be the Money” from a few years back, and you've got all that you need.  Great fun for everybody...except the f*&^%ing kids, and once again, near the end of my viewing of this movie, a baby broke out some crying just to let us all know he/she was there.  LEAVE YOUR F#@$ING KIDS AT HOME!!

Rating:  $7.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09