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Awesome: 7.84%
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6 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Invincible (2006)
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by Doug Bentin

"Disney has been working underdog sports stories hard."
4 stars

“Invincible” claims to be based on the life of South Philly substitute teacher/bartender Vince Papale, but it’s only based on a few months of it.

The Philadelphia Eagles had had a four-win season the year before hiring Dick Vermeil to take over the team in the mid-1970s. If you think footballs fans where you live can be tough on a losing coach, you don’t know South Philly. “They threw snowballs at Santa Claus, remember?” one character asks.

In an attempt to pump up some enthusiasm, Vermeil announces open tryouts for the team, and every idiot Eagles fan who is capable of tying his own shoes responds to the call. Papale, who has been laid off his teaching job and abandoned by his wife of five years, is a hot shot vacant lot football player so at the urging of his buds he gives tryouts a try, too.

Revealing that he gets past the first cut doesn’t let any cats out of bags, but for all its well-shot football action the movie isn’t really about football as it is. It’s really about football as the rallying point around which people who don’t have much going for them in life can gather together. Papale’s blue collar father loves to repeat a story about a big touchdown that propelled the Eagles into the championship thirty years ago, and at one point when Vince begins to groan at having to hear it again, his dad reminds him that that touchdown is all that got him through 30 years at the factory where he works.

Director/director of photography Ericson Core and screenwriter
Brad Gann do a nice job in making clear that big time sports are not just an entertainment for fans, but in many cases they are a necessity.

Mark Wahlberg, who is a little small to be a totally convincing Vince Papale, is very good in the role. He’s torn between doing what he wants to do and doing what his community needs him to do—even when it’s all the same thing. Unlike other actors who pretend to be pro athletes on film, Wahlberg looks like he could actually play some ball. (Yes, I’m talking about Adam Sandler, who looks like he’d have to strain to get in five minutes of ping pong.)

Greg Kinnear seems a little easy going to be the Dick Vermeil I remember from those days, a hard driving coach who almost worked himself into a nervous breakdown. If a passion for the game doesn’t always show, a compassion for the players does.

Elizabeth Banks is fine as Vince’s new love interest, even if she is a New York Giants fan, and Kevin Conway has some solid scenes as Vince’s dad. Michael Rispoli, Kirk Acevedo, Dov Davidoff and Michael Kelly are terrific as Vince’s bar buddies. It’s easy to believe that these guys all grew up together.

Unlike most sports movies, “Invincible” is also valuable to non-fans of the its sport because it has such insight into why the game is so important to its followers. You wonder if some of these guys really love football as much as have to have it. Think back to last year’s “Fever Pitch” which was about a Boston Red Sox fan. That movie never allowed us to see why the fire burned so hot.

As a life-long Dallas Cowboys fan, with no love in my heart for the Eagles, I do thank goodness Papale didn’t play for the New York Giants. I really hate the Giants.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15077&reviewer=405
originally posted: 09/07/06 14:45:28
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User Comments

12/29/09 fartvenugen another disney formula turd 2 stars
11/04/08 undertaker nice one i liked it 5 stars
4/10/08 Matt A bit of an opportunity missed to do better, but a likeable enough rags-to-riches movie 4 stars
10/13/07 Private Treads familar ground with effectiveness. 4 stars
6/13/07 AJ Muller Surprisingly good. A bit sappy, but it works; big heart and solid acting - effective. 4 stars
10/16/06 Quigley a very good sports movie; very inspiring with some good performances and script 4 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Painlessly typical tale, w/ good performances and better sdtrk. Too much slo-mo near end. 3 stars
10/10/06 E.G. This movie sucks large black cock 1 stars
9/12/06 Edward Connell Thought provoking set at a slow pace in viewer control 4 stars
9/08/06 michael classic flix 4 stars
8/31/06 Mohobbit not great, but not a waste of time either.a good sports film 4 stars
8/31/06 Pn. Not a false move in this true movie. 5 stars
8/28/06 mwr There's nothing wrong with this movie - it's a great drama. 5 stars
8/25/06 Davdutt Bhati my comments is chemistry 5 stars
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  25-Aug-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 19-Dec-2006



Directed by
  Ericson Core

Written by
  Brad Gann

  Mark Wahlberg
  Greg Kinnear
  Elizabeth Banks
  Michael Rispoli
  Kevin Conway

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