Undefeated

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undefeatedIt’s been 110 years and this football team hasn’t won a playoff game. No, no…it’s not the Chargers. This is the Monassas Tigers, a high school team in Memphis.

Enter Bill Courtney, who owns a successful lumber business in town (perhaps the only successful business in town). He has been a volunteer football coach and mentor to the kids for five years. He’s coaching his last season and this film follows him and three of his star players.

We get the great player that suffers an injury and is dealing with that. We have the guy that does time in juvi and for some reason is welcomed back onto the team (even after slugging a teammate). And there’s the big guy that every college wants, but who struggles with grades (think Blind Side).

All the clichés you’d expect are here. I just found it bizarre that we’re talking about sending these kids to college, when their English is so atrocious we need subtitles in many scenes. How about we get them a high school education, and perhaps the coach gets a few of them jobs at his successful lumber yard?

Part of my problem is that I’m watching a lot of thugs that I don’t care about. Sure, I feel horrible that none of them have fathers in their life (I lot of us dealt with that).

None have had parents go to college, and all have had parents in prison. Yet when I see them acting like jerks, it’s hard to root for them the way I have for underdogs in other films.

I was actually rooting for one to return to prison. His name is Chavis, and he fights with players, coaches, and anybody that crosses his path. He puts the “ass” in Monassas.

That doesn’t mean some of the things in the film didn’t move me. Coach Courtney talked about not spending time with his own family or not having a dad that showed up to his games as a youth, and I needed a few tissues.

Another player wins an award, and in a touching moment dedicates it to the injured player he was inspired by.

At one point the coach talks about “emotional capital I can’t spend on my family.”

I think he made a wise choice in deciding to retire and spend more time with his four kids.

I would’ve preferred more info on the personal lives of the players involved, and a bit more detailed football talk. Instead of just showing points pile up on the scoreboard, let’s hear the coach running some detailed plays. Instead we just hear Coach Courtney give goofy self-help pep talks.

If you’re itching for something like this, rent Hoop Dreams.

I’ve seen five documentaries last year that were better than this, but it won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

I’m giving it 2 ½ out of 5 stars.

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