' Cinema Romantico: We Are Marshall

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

We Are Marshall

Happy Valley. Rocky Top. The Little Brown Jug.

If any of those things make sense in any way to you then “We Are Marshall” is a movie you will probably enjoy. If you’re left scratching your head then “We Are Marshall” is a movie you will probably not enjoy. Yes, it’s that simple.

The young woman who sat next to me during the screening certainly did not enjoy it. When she first sat down I found myself attracted to her. But by the end, after she had checked her cellphone half-a-dozen times and sighed repeatedly, I just wanted her to go away. If you don’t like it, walk out and spare the rest of us. Okay?

But there I go indulging in my favorite pasttime of digressing.

"We Are Marshall" is the story of a horrifically tragic plane crash in 1970 that killed 75 football players, coaches and fans of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. At first, the school chooses to suspend the program, but the fierce devotion of one of the few varsity players not aboard the plane forces them to reverse that decison. The Marshall President (David Straithairn) hires a relative unknown Jack Lengyle (Matthew McConaghey) to coach the team and help them rise "from the ashes".

Considering this is a true story it's hard to disparage it, yet it just seems odd that so many cliched moments from other sports movies turn up. There are a whole gaggle of training montages and, of course, the beginning of the 1st act is perfectly symmetrical to the end of the 3rd act and there are passionate speeches heaped upon passoniate speeches.

People in this movie don’t just talk. Not even close. They don’t even talk in “movie talk”. They take it a step further than that. For instance, if you and I were go into Subway and sit down to eat we would have a conversation resembling this:

Me: “How’s the Italian B.M.T.?”

You: “Good.”

Now let’s take a look at how this conversation would play out within the world of “We Are Marshall”:

Me: “How’s the Italian B.M.T.?”

You: “I used to come to Subway with my wife. She'd always get the Italian B.M.T. even though salami was guaranteed to make her sick. She just loved the taste of salami so much she couldn’t help it. So she’d order it, she’d enjoy it, and then we’d have to drive home right away before she got ill. And I’d hold her hair back while she leaned over the toilet and she’d smile at me and say……..it was all worth it.”

You may think I’m exaggerating. But I’m not. Trust me. All the dialogue is like this. I understand the typical sports movie has to contain the over-the-top speeches by coaches to players and players to players. But everybody makes over-the-top speeches in this movie.

The opening of the film advises us This Is A True Story. It doesn’t say This Is Based On A True Story. Thus, am I meant to assume that in real life everyone in Huntington, West Virginia talks like this? Doesn’t that get exhausting?

So yeah, it's a typical sports movie. But, speaking only for me, I'm willing to forgive all those cliches and painfully sappy moments more than someone such as the girl who sat next to me in theater. And that's probably because I know where Happy Valley is. And she probably doesn't.

1 comment:

Robin Hood said...

i liked this movie alot with matthew mcconaughey he was very good in this movie

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