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Set in the inner-city of Memphis, Undefeated chronicles the Manassas Tigers' 2009 football season, on and off-the-field, as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school's 110-year history. A perennial whipping boy, in recent decades Manassas had gone so far as to sell their home games to the highest bidder, but that all changed in the spring of 2004 when Bill Courtney, a former high school football coach turned lumber salesman, volunteered to lend a hand. When he arrived, the team consisted of 17 players, some timeworn equipment and a patch of grass masquerading as a practice field. Focusing more on winning young men than football games, the football program nevertheless began resurrecting itself and, in 2009, features the most talented team Manassas has ever fielded; a team that seems poised to end the playoff jinx that has plagued the school since time immemorial. A coming-of-age documentary film, Undefeated provides audiences an intimate view of an underprivileged group of teens and their inspirational coach, as they attempt to make history.
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Let me say first that football is the secondary theme of this film. The humanitarian theme absolutely trumps the football element. Having said that, this documentary was very powerful. On my next visit to Memphis, I'd like to meet the coach of the team, Bill Courtney, and to shake his hand, but preferably to give him a very big hug for a selflessness, love and compassion that I have rarely ever seen. It is a story of this very talented white coach who neglected his own business and even his own family to help black inner city youth to make the most of their lives. Your heart will be deeply touched. Guaranteed!!! No wonder it won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Now, back to catching a glimpse of the church I attended in the 1960s. I was utterly surprised that a portion of the film was shot inside of the building that was once the main sanctuary of that church. My father's funeral was held in that sanctuary in 1993. In one scene, I also caught a glimpse of my father's picture that was displayed on the wall as one of the founding members of the church. This is one reason I was prompted to purchase the movie after having initially rented the movie from Red Box. But, even in the absence of such a sentimental attachment, this documentary is worth owning.
As a mother of two 14 year old boys, I love the determination and perseverance depicted in this real life and highly inspirational movie. I found this useful to teach against the "entitlement attitude" that is so pervasive today. Also, I know we would be blessed if we search out and support coaches like this who have such hearts of service. Thankfully they are around us!
It would have been so awesome if the film ended the way (not to ruin it for you) you were hoping it to end, but being that it is non-fiction, God authored it the way he saw fit.
It's a well done documentary...
Oh... and Puffy is an executive on the film (see the special features) and I was all set with hearing his two cents.