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Monday, 12 February 2018

Retro Review: Any Given Sunday (1999)

Any Given Sunday
Cast: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J
Genre: Sports Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $100 million 

Plot: Professional football provides the action-packed backdrop & look at contemporary society through the dynamic prism of professional sports 

'Appealing Star-Studded Cast & Great Football Action, But Overlong With Too Little Content'

Any Given Sunday is an alternative -yet dark and fictional slice of professional American football life, both on and off the field at every perspective which is unfortunately stifled by the bloated over 2-hour runtime with melodrama that is a bit too over the top, making the film a bit of a hot mess. 

Veteran team coach Tony is forced to play a skilled rookie, Willie Beamen over an experienced quarterback, Jack 'Cap' Rooney by the club's ruthless owner. As well as the teams' on-the-field drama, off the field, money, sleaze and two-timing antics also threaten to tear the Miami Sharks apart. 

As with all of Oliver Stone's flicks, there is quite a lot to take in, his visual style is very self-indulgent and flashy - yet he does have a habit of telling stories with flat characterisation. & as this film wears on, it becomes exasperating and the story practically flounders in different directions, it's difficult to focus on one thing, only to be distracted by something else. It was just difficult to follow and feels incoherent. At one point, Any Given Sunday intercuts to a chariot race scene from Ben Hur for no explicable reason.  

Nonetheless, the football scenes are great to watch. 

But with the exception of say Willie, not one of the characters stand out as being likeable, but rather they are a bunch of hotheads and there is no one to really root for. Following on from Showgirls, Elizabeth Berkley appears in one scene with Al Pacino topless. Pacino overacts as the egotistical coach, Tony, whilst Jamie Foxx impresses as a young, arrogant quarterback, Willie Beamin', but James Woods, Aaron Eckhart, Matthew Modine and John C. McGinley turn in solid efforts and they were severely underutilised, whilst I didn't care much for Dennis Quaid and Lauren Holly's characters. As for Cameron Diaz, I actually thought this was quite a change of pace, and I'm not usually a fan of hers, but she did all right here as the conceited and arrogant owner. 

Convoluted, noisy, brash, like with Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone loves to make a lot of hot noise and likes to go big and hard with the souped-up and frantic editing and visuals - the problem is he doesn't delve beneath the substance of them. In the hands of a much more capable director, Any Given Sunday would be a lot more than just football scenes and players acting and behaving recklessly like they do and s/he would have extracted more of that characterisation and heart. The rivalry between Willie Beamin' and LL Cool J's Julian characters was intriguing and it would have been entertaining if the film was centred around that.

Beyond that, Any Given Sunday is the Michael Bay equivalent of football movies - loud, brash, flashy, testosterone-filled but besides the action, the script is mostly just barren, not to mention too masochistic and too scattered for one to follow properly.  


Final Verdict:

With so-called glorified and over-stylised production values and despite the impressive casting, every little thing in Any Given Sunday just doesn't seem to come together so well. Unless you are a massive fan of American football, there is not much here besides for the rest of you.

There is a lot of muscle, power and energy flowing throughout, and yet it's too long with practically loathable and unredeemable characters and is so overridden with little finesse and practically little heart, it fails to land that all-important touchdown. 

I'd be sticking with Wildcats, thanks. 


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