Remember the Titans Boaz Yakin

The idea of the "inspirational sports movie” generally strikes fear into a film reviewer’s heart, so it’s a double disappointment that this one actually broaches interesting subject matter and then blows it completely. It’s 1971 and a Virginia high school has been integrated at sword’s points with the locals; most insulting to them is the fact that the school’s winning football coach (Will Patton) has been demoted to make way for a black man (Denzel Washington). But of course, this only grants us the friction of an iron-fisted Denzel forcing the mutually hostile black and white players to first respect each other and then wreak havoc on the playing field. Given the time and the place (and the fact that the film is based on a true story), this could have been something, but director Boaz Yakin is determined to render everything in broad strokes that telegraph the message and reduce sensitive material to low comedy. Scenes practically come with program notes that inform you of their significance — there’s a drinking game to be had where you take a swig every time a moral message is floated. And the film screams those messages at the top of its lungs, hammering you over the head with their importance when it should be sussing out the complexities of the story. In the end, a talented supporting cast is wasted on a thesis the audience has already gotten, thus ensuring that that audience isn’t challenged one iota. This director’s cut adds seven additional minutes and includes three featurettes, the tortuous journey from script to screen and a standard "making of,” as well as four deleted scenes. (Buena Vista)