Fall football flicks: ‘Gang’ fumbles, ‘Invincible’ scores

Bridget Nordquist

Bridget Nordquist

It’s that time of year again! Strap on that helmet, put on those pads and go to the movies. As football season opens across the country, Hollywood also cashes in on the insanity. This year, football fans and movie-goers alike were offered “Invincible” and “Gridiron Gang.” Lucky for you, I viewed both movies and will offer my humble opinions, possibly saving you seven dollars.

Both “Invincible” and “Gridiron Gang” seem to be typical football films. You know the story: underdog loses, works really hard, wins, blah blah blah. However, these movies are unique in that they are based on actual events.

“Invincible” follows Vince Papale, played by Mark Wahlberg, as he struggles to become a Philadelphia Eagle. “Gridiron Gang” tells the story of detention camp officer Sean Porter, portrayed by The Rock, as he starts a football team at camp. Both stories make for potentially great movies, but only one goes the distance.

Unfortunately, “Gridiron Gang” fumbles throughout the movie. While The Rock is definitely charismatic, he is weighed down by cheesy additions to the plot. His character has a sick mom, daddy issues, anger problems ? the list goes on.

Worst of all, he is forced to spout countless inspirational speeches that involve swelling music, bad lines and-for me-lots of eye-rolling. When The Rock is unavailable, plenty of team members jump in to motivate their former rival gang members (when guns aren’t being fired).

However, the movie does offer compelling performances by several actors, including rapper Xzibit and young Jade Yorker. Too bad the whole film is bogged down by an overload of sentimentality.

In contrast, “Invincible” better portrays the main character’s struggle while not killing us with sappiness. Wahlberg plays Papale in a subtle, yet captivating, way, making us root for him through it all. Of course, the movie does have its-hopefully-tearful moments. The backyard football games with guys from the old neighborhood, the good times in the local bar, the struggling father. These scenes are understated while still moving. In short, the movie scored big for me. Of course, Mark Wahlberg in the rain may have helped.

I would still recommend both movies if you are a big football fan. However, if you’re simply a movie lover, stick with “Invincible.”

Additionally, both movies offer documentary footage of the actual events during the films’ credits. Now that may be cheesy … but it’s the cheesy truth.