We’ve seen this kind of sports movie a thousand times, but you know what, I like that movie. “Remember the Titans” stars Denzel Washington as real-life coach Herman Boone, who brought together a racially divided community by leading the Titans to victory with a winning season. Set in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971, we meet the black and white players on the team who refuse to even talk to each other. Coach Boone is not the kind of person to tolerate something as ignorant as prejudice and the boys, black and white, are carted off to football camp where they will practice, sleep, eat and play together — whether they like it or not. The film’s message of tolerance among the races is obvious but welcome at a time when, for some reason that I personally still don’t understand, racial division still exists. I grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan right outside of Detroit, and while I observed the usual racist morons (mainly a*****e skinheads) I never understood this bone-headed mentality. Now, I live in Los Angeles, perhaps the most culturally diverse city in the U.S. next to New York, and am pleased to see that some parts of the country are at least making progress in the area of race relations. Sure, you read about the bad things splashed across the news (the media loves to stir things up) but for the most part, surprise, we all get along. And while I went to a mostly all-white school as a kid growing up, I am pleased that my children go to a racially diverse school with children of all walks of life. It’s satisfying to me. Ultimately, I’m an optimist as I like to think we’ve made progress, no matter what the out-of-touch mainstream media would try to tell us.
I’m not going to bore you with story details, since you’ve already had most of it ruined by the trailers or you can read about it in every other review of the film. I will say that the performances are great, especially Denzel Washington and Will Patten and, like most sports movies, “Remember the Titans” is cliché and predictable, so why am I partial to liking a film of this type? I love football. And I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Though, I have plenty of geek buddies of mine who dislike sports and love movies so they actually make fun of me for liking sports. (Which is odd since these same geeks were also needled for disliking sports. So, here I am catching s**t for actually being INTO sports? Weird, but whatever.)
Every Sunday I’m glued to the television watching NFL football for several reasons, but not for the reasons you might expect. I love the drama. When there’s a great match-up like last week’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets, nothing is better. Receiver Keyshawn Johnson was talking smack all week about Wayne Chrebet, his former teammate and rival on the Jets which set up an awesome competition. Keyshawn caught one pass for a yard and Wayne caught the game-winning catch for a touchdown. You could not write a script for a better movie (since it would seem so unbelievable) but it happens every week in the NFL. Every game is like watching an incredible documentary film unfold before your eyes live as it happens. Even better are the highlights, especially when they are shown in slow motion. Nothing compares to stunning catches, bone-breaking hits and athletic artistry in slo-mo. Steve Sabol and his father pioneered this filmmaking technique in the 1960s when they filmed every play of every NFL game in slow motion. At the time, it was for historical reasons, but was also incredibly costly with film whizzing through cameras at 60 frames per second or more. Besides preserving history, this slo-mo photography had another effect. I would argue that the reason that the NFL is so popular today is because of the results of Sabol’s filmmaking style. Those astonishing visuals launched the NFL right to the top in terms of popularity. Football remains the most watched sport on television today and I think it has a lot to do with Sabol and NFL Films. But, you know, you would expect me to give all the credit to the filmmakers and none to the players.
Bottom line: if you like football, you’re going to love “Remember the Titans,” if you don’t, you won’t. You’ll notice that the story is predictable and cliché but who cares? If you’re not a fan, this movie isn’t for you. If you are a fan, you’ll be left choked up, tearful and satisfied.