Thursday, December 23, 2021

American Underdog

Adapted from Kurt Warner's autobiography, American Underdog follows the unlikely journey of small-time college quarterback Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) from college, to being completely out of football stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee, and ultimately to the NFL. Much of the film focuses on Warner's personal life, his relationship with Brenda Meoni (Anna Paquin) and her children, and his struggles in finding life after football.

The film from directors Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin is attempting to cash-in on a tale similar to Invincible and The Rookie. However, both of those films were produced by Disney who has a better feel for the genre. While it may not measure up to either of those two films, American Underdog is still an interesting look at the lesser-known aspects of Warner's life although it skirts over his professional relationships in the NFL with everyone except his coaches. 

Levi and Paquin provide a strong backbone for the film, and I also enjoyed Hayden Zaller as young Zack. Even though Kurt's time with the Rams takes up only a fraction of the film, Dennis Quaid's performance of head coach Dick Vermeil, which I'd describe as more caricature than character, is certainly a problem. Other than Kurt's relationship to a single longtime friend and teammate (Ser'Darius Blain) in college and later the Arena League, we don't get much interaction between him and other players. Trent Green (played by the uncredited Ben Kacsandi), who Warner thanked in his Hall of Fame speech for all he helped him accomplish, gets only a cameo.

American Underdog isn't bad, but aside from the money spent to recreate some of the sporting events it also doesn't feel all that cinematic, either. Take out the sports scenes and you could easily see this going straight to TV for the Hallmark Channel. Warner's story may not turn out to be as captivating as you hope, but it is interesting to watch unfold. One curiosity about the film, which does have a Christian slant and is being marketed for that audience, is it doesn't really explore Warner's faith (at least not to the degree it does with that of the woman who would become his wife).

  • Title: American Underdog
  • IMDb: link
Watch the trailer

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