We Are Marshall McG

We Are Marshall McG
When the history of varsity football’s greatest feats is finally written, the plight of Marshall’s 1970 team probably won’t be among the first told. Not because they shouldn’t be remembered but because this film does little justice to their legacy. We Are Marshall is your by-the-numbers underdog sports story. Everything about it is dreadfully formulaic: the crises, the uplifting spirit following a great loss, the montages and of course, the slow motion final play that defines everyone’s life thereafter. Matthew McConaughey plays Jack Lengyel, a blue-collar football fanatic who accepts an offer to coach Marshall University’s varsity football team in Huntington, VA. Lengyel has his work cut out for him though, as the team he’s taken charge of is in the middle of rebuilding after the original 37 players died in a plane crash while homeward bound after a tough loss on the road. Lengyel faces an indifferent college president (David Strathairn) ready to shut the football program down, a tetchy assistant coach (Matthew Fox, who looks like he will explode into tears every time he’s on camera) and a charged-up player (Anthony Mackie) that missed the doomed flight due to an injury. This is a true story, and if you’ve read the above then you’ll be sad to know that there isn’t much else to it. Therein lies the problem: the facts (the plane crash, dates, names) are clear cut but when the film tries to freestyle around what we already know all we get is filler via every sports movie cliché in the playbook. The bonus features fare worse, with the only option worth clicking a 37-minute interview with the real Coach Lengyel, which will put your hairs on end, and you’ll wish that a simple documentary had been made instead. If you’re DVD player is HD compatible, then the HD DVD option will certainly look pretty (it’s surreal how cameras can now capture even the tiniest blades of grass). Missing, however, are any deleted scenes or even a "making of” featurette, and there’s no commentary track either. If you’re a football fan, go the whole ten yards and rent Friday Night Lights. At least it isn’t as predictable. (Warner)