When this movie first came out to its slate of tepid reviews, I decided not to go see it. When the DVD came out, I decided not to buy it. When I recently received the DVD as a gift, I was surprised to find that I honestly couldn't wait to watch it. Admittedly, I have always found Oliver Stone's films to be entertaining. I am also a life-long Cowboys fan. And, truth be known, I was curious to see what Stone thought about the state of professional football, albeit via his mythical Miami Sharks. The best thing that I ever did was to quit reading reviews, and sat down with a bowl of popcorn to give this film its shot. The verdict is that I really liked this film. Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but I really enjoyed this movie. The screenplay is structured around some interesting and engaging characters, providing good insights into their individual experiences with the team. The cast is first rate and there are plenty of good performances. From the owner's box, to the training room, at home with the wife and kids, and off the field with all of its complications, this movie does a memorable job of showing all sides of the world of professional football. I even liked the movie soundtrack with its catchy tunes. No offense to the other reviewers, but Heston is perfect as the power-mongering league commissioner. James Woods is great as the veteran team physician who has seen too much. Jim Brown and LT give accurate and believable performances in their respective roles. I also found the parallels between the film's plot line and the present day soap opera going on with my beloved Cowboys to be kind of spooky. True, there are times when the plot to this movie looks a little too cliché. I find it to be a point to the film's level of authenticity, however, that the current highest paid player in the NFL is perhaps living out an eerily similar experience with his family, doctors, coaches and owner. This movie is not a classic but there is a lot about it that holds up in repeated viewings. The dog-eat-dog world of the professional athletics is portrayed in some admittedly predictable scenes, but there are some nice surprises as well. The ending to this movie is, for me, its truest moment. I think that the best thing about this movie is that while it deals competently with the intensity and pathos of professional football, it never forgets to keep its sense of humor. If you can do the same thing, my guess is that you will really enjoy this movie. There is a lot more about it that works than most of these reviews would lead you to believe.
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