This is a pleasant tale of love and unselfishness told through the glaring lights of the field where dreams are made. Even if you don’t know who Kurt Warner is or aren’t a big fan of football, you’ll enjoy this movie because it leaves a good impression on its audience. The way “American Underdog” is laid out is moving and, in the end, leaves you with a warm feeling inside. Not half bad for a tale about a guy throwing around the pigskin, wouldn’t you agree? You will.
For a good reason, the movie is bookended with statistics from the career of Joe Montana. His ability to “Stay in the Pocket” and deliver the perfect throw is mentioned because it’s what Kurt Warner works on most. Also mentioned are all of Montana’s records. When Kurt was a kid, watching Joe Montana play is what sparked inside of him the dream of being a quarterback, too. For clarification on why that dream is almost an unattainable goal to reach. It’s said that only about one percent of football players in college get drafted and even fewer of them get to play in the Super Bowl. Only makes sense that even fewer of them would ever get to be MVP of that game. He wanted all three. Some have asked, ‘Why bother trying? It’s impossible.’ This movie is about how Kurt didn’t listen to the naysayers in his life and how he never gave up. Yes. This is a familiar plot in movies recently, but his story is anything but typical. Based on Warner’s book “All Things Are Possible,” this goes deep into his personal life before he became the NFL’s MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback.
We get to know him very well. We meet his friends, and we meet some of the coaches he had along the way. With how several of them felt about him, it’s amazing he got as far as he did. However, it’s through adversity that he built his strength and character. We see Kurt at his most vulnerable and see him when he’s filled to the rim with confidence, something he rarely lacked. But it’s when he meets ex-Marine and single mother raising two children, Brenda (Anna Paquin), that Kurt Warner shows us he’s a man.
Zachary Levi (Shazam!) plays Kurt. Though most of the time he walks around with an expression on his face that says he’s about to run for the hills, the look of a deer caught in headlights, he does look an awful lot like the subject of this film. Sadly, looking like someone isn’t enough, but with the help of a great script and a solid performance from Paquin, he gets the job done.
As it was a constant in his life, Kurt knew that, with football, everything would be okay. Playing football was going to happen, no matter how long it took. Once he met Brenda, life with her would happen, too; he just wasn’t exactly sure how he’d get there. The story follows his getting to know her and her children, one who’s legally blind. This all happens as he rides the bench at the University of Iowa. After some begging on Kurt’s part, his coach finally gives him a chance to play. He’s noticed and gets some glimpses but isn’t picked in the draft.
Some time passes, and he catches the eyes of the Green Bay Packers. That doesn’t work out and he ends up back in town stocking shelves at the grocery store. What comes next is a show of love and support from him for Brenda and her children. Much to his dismay, he’s asked by his mother whether or not he’s ready to have an instant family. Brenda questions this as well and tests him by doing everything but push him out the door. After what her first husband did to her, it’s hard for her to trust anyone.
To take care of Brenda and the kids, Warner ends up playing in the arena leagues, ‘circling the drain’ with the other players for the Iowa Barnstormers. This is where he’s told to play football at the speed of Nascar. He’s almost convinced his biggest dream in life, playing for the NFL, is over. However, life with Brenda is just starting, and in a charming scene, he asks her to marry him. Soon after, the RAMS call. Though he has difficulty pleasing the offensive coordinator, making him doubt he’ll make it, his coach Dick Vermeil (Quaid) believes in him. Vermeil gives a speech about proving people wrong before welcoming him to the team. The quarterback they built the team around, Trent Green, gets injured. Kurt goes in the big game.
You’ll really appreciate that along with Levi in as Kurt, we see actual game footage of Warner playing the game. This is a nice touch and adds to the heart of the story. We even hear an announcer say, “You’re watching a star be born.” Enjoy!
Official Site: http://americanunderdog.movie/
Directed by: Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin
Written by: David Aaron Cohen, Jon Gunn, Jon Erwin
Starring: Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, and Dennis Quaid
Run Time: 112 minutes
Produced by: Kevin Downes, Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin
*Based on the book ‘All Things Possible’ by Kurt Warner