' ' Cinema Romantico: Who Should Play Kurt Warner's Hy-Vee Supervisor in American Underdog?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Who Should Play Kurt Warner's Hy-Vee Supervisor in American Underdog?

Though I’m excited to see Kurt Warner, my native Iowan homey, get his own movie, I have a sneaking suspicion that such a biopic, based off his memoir “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football, and the First Miracle” won’t be any great shakes, less insightful, never mind challenging, than an IV drip of pious sentimentality, like a vacation Bible study version of “The Replacements”, or something, like if the main character of “Hoosiers” was Strap, just without the cornball wit. But perhaps I’m telling tales out of school. After all, as Proverbs says, a prudent man watches a movie: but a fool watches a trailer. And what interests me most about “American Underdog: the Kurt Warner Story” is not predetermining the movie’s quality but theoretically determining who could play Kurt Warner’s supervisor at Hy-Vee. 

Hy-Vee, sort of the Publix of the Midwest, is a crucial component of the Kurt Warner story. After starring at Division I-AA Northern Iowa for a year as quarterback, Warner failed to make a go of it on any professional level of football and was reduced to stocking shelves on the overnight shift at a Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls. In the the recently released behind-the-scenes quasi-trailer we see him standing in the Hy-Vee aisle, longingly gazing at a Wheaties box, which, my God, sometimes a prudent man does watch a trailer. But there is also a scene where he is playing catch with some other stock clerk in the aisle and inadvertently sends that stock clerk crashing through a display, putting into context why the screenplay is credited to David Aaron Cohen, Jon Erwin, Jon Gunn, and Algorithm. And while the IMDb credits list a Hy-Vee Customer and a Hy-Vee Son and a Store Clerk, they do not list Hy-Vee Supervisor, which I believe to be the most critical role here, even more critical than former UNI Coach Terry Allen, to be played by Adam Baldwin in what I can only hope is an appropriate Allen-ish moustache. (Anna Paquin plays Warner’s wife, Brenda, betraying, as Colin McGowan astutely noted, how much we, as a society, have failed Paquin.)

Who should play this imaginary Hy-Vee Supervisor? Well, the obvious answer is Bruce McGill since Bruce McGill should be in everything. But Bruce McGill is already in “American Underdog”! He’s playing Jim Foster, commissioner of the Arena Football League, where Warner improbably rose to prominence, a man who once told Sports Illustrated that his league made sure to eradicate any possible Donald Trumps as owner. Respect.

Hmmmmm. So, who else who could play Warner’s supervisor? Well, Kevin Corrigan should be in everything too, of course. I like imagining him putting down the starry-eyed Warner (“You couldn’t beat Western Illinois and now you’re talking like you should play for the Bears”) and then, happening upon his young charge gazing at the Wheaties box, walking up, putting a hand on his shoulder and saying “Follow your dream, Kent.” “Kurt,” Kurt would say. “Whatever,” Corrigan would say and then walk away. But, a Hy-Vee supervisor with a New York accent? I dunno.

Maybe that’s why we should cast David Anthony Higgins, a native Iowan, who could not only lend Hawkeye State credibility but spiritually call back to his definitive role on “Malcolm in the Middle.” 

Dean Winters might be good because he could ably embody an ex-high school jock, ostensible star quarterback of the Waverly-Shell Rock football team that went 2-7 in 1991, who keeps challenging Warner to passing contests with cans of Chunky Soup. But like those Allstate commercials, I fear Winters might be too Dennis Duffy-ish.

That’s also why we might want to hold off on Jason Sudeikis, despite his Midwestern roots, because he might be too Ted Lasso-y. 

Picture this man as a disgruntled Hy-Vee supervisor lecturing a future pro football Hall of Famer.

Matt Malloy would be fantastic. Can’t you just see him marching around the corner in a huff to find this store clerk lying in the mess of the fallen display, putting his hands on his hips, frowning, exerting his minimal authority to the fullest?

Paul Walter Hauser would be the fantastic opposite to Malloy. He would round the corner with, like, an armful of Captain Crunch boxes to find the store clerk lying in the mess of the fallen display and just sort of sigh and barely wield his minimal authority because he hates this job so much.

But in the end, I suppose, what we really need is an open casting call in Cedar Falls to find the most gangly, unenthusiastic teenager possible, to both improbably stand taller than the movie’s Warner while being his younger, couldn’t-care-less supervisor, the perfect juxtaposition of sorrowful comedy.

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