5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gridiron Dreams--An Ambitious Six Year Project Filled With Both Heartbreak And Triumph,
This review is from: 4th & Goal (DVD)
When it comes to sports related documentaries, the gold standard has got to be 1994's incredibly powerful "Hoop Dreams." Following two inner city Chicago kids for five years, the film saw the duo as they worked toward their goal of making it as professional basketball players. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes heartfelt--the film pushed past the subject of sport to be an important document about life in general. Following the same template is Nina Gilden Seavey's "4th & Goal." This earnest and honest film features five players (as well as one recent alumni) from the 2003 championship season at the famed City College of San Francisco. With the assistance of their esteemed coach George Rush, this talented bunch all had dreams up stepping up to Division One schools followed by an NFL career. But the odds aren't exactly in their favor in this intensely competitive arena. The film, with segments over the next six years, follows these eager athletes through their resultant triumphs and disappointments.
Anyone who loves football, college football in particular, should find much of interest in "4th and Goal." The film features much footage about training sessions, recruitment and key gameplay and is very good at establishing the process gone though to move to the next level of success. The players are well defined in their thinking--very few have back-up plans to their chosen (but hard to reach) aspirations. This is an especially vital topic in our current celebrity culture where everyone wants instant fame (whether in sports or entertainment) and banks on it, but aren't really building any alternate skill set in case they don't make it. The selected players are relatable and, oftentimes, their own worst enemies. This ends up being a great cross section, though, as there are both success stories and ugly realities met by the various hopefuls.
This is not quite as universal as the aforementioned "Hoop Dreams." After all, "Hoop Dreams" ran almost three hours and only dealt with only two kids. This ninety minute presentation has a lot of ground to cover with six players. As such, although we see some background, the personal side of the players is secondary to their relationship to football. But lacking an extreme intimacy, the filmmaker astutely assembles just enough outside material to put things into context. Frustrating, fascinating, occasionally sad, often joyous--this is essential viewing for anyone involved in football. This was an ambitious project that has a lot to say about brotherhood, competition, and the choices we make growing up. A solid and successful film. KGHarris, 9/11.