review by Bobby Blakey
Sports films ten to be the most inspirational when handled right especially the true stories. The latest film American Underdog takes on the story of NFL legend quarterback Kurt Warner. The film stars Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, and Dennis Quaid with I Can Only Imagine and I Still Believe directors The Erwin Brothers at the helm. Could Warner’s inspiring true story bring hope and inspiration to the viewers or will it fumble the ball?
American Underdog tells the true story of Kurt Warner, who went from a stockboy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player – but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination.
I knew most of Warner’s story going in, but still was interesting to see what all he went through to become one of the greats. When you know the outcome of a movie like this it is important to have an impactful and well-crafted story to make you still invested. As whole the film delivers, but it does have a messy start and kind of all over the place trying to find its footing, but eventually it gets back in the pocket.
Levi is excellent in the role carrying the emotion and likeable nature of Warner as well as the believability as a pro football player. Paquin is good here as well as the other side of the coin to this story, but have to admit here
horrible hair style throughout the film is pretty distracting. I know that Brenda had short hair and was a military veteran, but comb it or something. Thankfully later in the film it gets better. This has nothing to do with the main story, just was distracting. Paquin was great as well with her and Levi having great chemistry together.
One of the best aspects of the movie are the scenes with Levi and newcomer Hayden Zaller who plays Zack. I knew of Warner's off the field advocacy and charity work, but seeing the relationship between he and his adopted son, which I did not know either, was beautiful to watch. The chemistry Levi and Zaller have is great and really the most inspitational aspects to the film and how it shaped Warner on and off the field for the rest of his life as well as Zack's own loife.
The football sequences are well shot and executed, but the film actually spends more time off the field focusing on their relationship and his drive to his destiny. Where it faltered a bit for me was the seemingly lack of information to how Warner went about getting the chances as an unsigned draft pick. It makes sense on the surface, but for such an unlikely journey would have been interesting to see how it played up more behind the scenes as well. I get what they were going for and it worked, but there is so much there left on the field.
In the end it is an inspirational film that entertains and works to tell this remarkable story, but never fully hits that long pass to greatness. It kind of felt more like something that should have been on a streaming service, but with all the big budget sequels, super hero flicks and other common flicks always dominating the box office, it is refreshing to at least see something different even if all too familiar and by the numbers.
Whether you are a fan of the Rams, Kurt Warner or just sports flicks give this one a shot and decide for yourself. In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including trailer, deleted scenes, commentary and featurettes taking you behind bringing this real life story to life. Grab your copy of American Underdog available now on digital and then on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on February 22nd from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.