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For any American Football fan then this movie - 'Any Given Sunday' is a great movie and I would say you wil love it....If you are not a fan then this might not be for you. The movie was released about ten years back now and stars Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods and Matthew Modine. So they have put together a pretty star-studded cast. I have to admit I've always liked my American Football so enjoyed this film and found it quite entertaining.
The movie is essentially about the Miami Sharks football team and the fact that they are being ripped apart by players who only have fame on their minds and don't care about the best interests of the club as a whole. They have one or two good games and then think they are too good and deserve more money.
The coach of the team is played by Al Pacino and halfway into the season he has a nightmare situation looming when he loses his first and second choice quarterbacks in one game. He has no option but to choose the new rookie player played by Jamie Foxx to play for him. He does okay but the major problem is that he doesn't follow the coach's instructions and changes plays while on the field. This becomes an issue and is obviously unacceptable as you can't have a player in any team who is playing by their own rules and not minding the instructions of those in charge.
Cameron Diaz plays the owner of the team. She inherited the team from her father and is more interested in making a profit and having the team look good rather than results. But of course she needs the results to get that money she's after. She does not have any real love of the sport. She, along with Al Pacino are fantastic in their respective roles.
As stated if you love your American Football then this is right up your street as the movie is about three hours long and about an hour of it is dedicated to nothing but football action. Perhaps it's slightly long but I think you will find it very entertaining and enjoyable if you're into this sport.
Al Pacino stars as Tony D'Amato an ageing head coach who is running out of ideas for the once great Miami Sharks American football team. After injuries to his first two Quarterbacks he must turn to Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) his third choice Quarterback. Willie wants to put his own stamp on the team and starts to change the plays his coach is giving him and starts to create a big divide between himself and the rest of the team however they manage to turn around their form at this point as they try to reach the playoffs at the end of the season.
The film also stars Dennis Quaid as the ageing Miami Sharks first choice Quarterback, Cameron Diaz as the team's owner, James Woods as the team doctor he seems to show no care about the seriousness of some of the players injuries and LL Cool J as the teams running back.
Even for those who don't understand the rules of American Football this film will inspire you. Al Pacino outs in a good performance but is not back to his best from the days of The Godfather and Scarface. Jamie Foxx is brilliant as the young Quarterback and if the producers had got their original choice of Chris Tucker then I feel the film would have suffered as a result. His chemistry with Al Pacino is the films greatest asset and as the relationship between the characters begins to grow before Willie's ego begins to get the better of him and begins to damage the team and threaten the future of Tony's job as well as the teams place in Miami.
Oliver Stone does a great job as the director and without him this film would really suffer and he really manages to get the best out of his cast. A lot of the time films with a cast made up of so many big names never manage to live up to their potential however in this film the big name cast manage to gel together and there is not one bad performance. However the film leaves you feeling like something is missing but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Any Given Sunday
American Football is a funny old game, its a slightly camp version of Rugby, or is it, for Americans it means as much as real football does to us, for me this is the ultimate film about American Football, its awesome.
Cap Rooney (Quaid) is a legendary Quarterback and Football legend, when a crunching hit knocks him out of the game, an unknown veteran (Foxx) finally gets his chance and seizes it with both hands, his performances light up his team and the game in general and make his coach Tony D'Amato (Pacino) question his tactics and his place in a game that is clearly changing before him.
D'Amato is feeling squeezed by the pushy young owner (Diaz) who is so determined to prove herself in a man's World that anyone proves dispensible.
Al Pacino ... Tony D'Amato
Cameron Diaz ... Christina Pagniacci
Dennis Quaid ... Jack 'Cap' Rooney
James Woods ... Dr. Harvey Mandrake
Jamie Foxx ... Willie Beamen
LL Cool J ... Julian Washington
Matthew Modine ... Dr. Ollie Powers
Jim Brown ... Montezuma Monroe
Lawrence Taylor ... Luther 'Shark' Lavay
Bill Bellamy ... Jimmy Sanderson
Andrew Bryniarski ... Patrick 'Madman' Kelly
Lela Rochon ... Vanessa Struthers
Lauren Holly ... Cindy Rooney
Ann-Margret ... Margaret Pagniacci
Aaron Eckhart ... Nick Crozier
This is a truly inspiring film, I enjoy American Football a bit but not much, but this brings home the true passion of sport and its parallels with life.
Tony D'Amato is a man who has made mistakes and lived his life and the sport which is his life has changed and evolved around him, much like life has changed and evolved around many of us, we see Foxx's character grasp his last chance, Quaid's superstar considering his future because of injury and Diaz as the owner of the football club wanting to prove herself, by stepping out of her fathers shadows and kicking some butt, this is an intelligent, honest film, it is uplifting and heart warming and is enjoyable even to people who hate American Football.
Pacino is magnificent as is Quaid both are dinosaurs in a young land, both question their lives, Diaz shows unseen depth to her acting whilst Jamie Foxx is as versatile and enjoyable as always on the screen.
The action is well shot, the dialogue is sharp and honest and this is a film which makes you think way outside the boundaries of sport, it uses it simply as a metaphor for life.
I would recommend watching this film simply for Pacino's speech where he explains what he's done wrong in life and why winning counts, it is magnificent and transcends schlocky American glamour to touch normal people, it is truly inspiring and is something I watch whenever I feel weak or down.
A 2 disc special edition is available for £4.99 on Play.com, Special Features include:
* 'Full Contact' Making Of Documentary from HBO
* 4 Sensational Music Videos From Jamie Foxx And LL Cool J
* Out-takes/Gag Reel Including Football Out-Takes
* Triva Games
* Screen Tests & Auditions
* Extra Footage Including 16 Deleted/Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary
* DVD-ROM Feature: Grid Iron Challenge Trivia Game
* Complete Theatrical Website
* Essays & Reviews
* From Screen To Script
* Virtual Edit Suite
Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) is the ageing head coach of the Miami Sharks football team. When his first choice Quarterback Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) and then his second choice are both injured in the same game he must turn to Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) his third choice Quarterback. Willie immediately starts to change the plays to the annoyance of some of his team members. Willie makes a big impact on the team however and they begin to turnaround their season as they look to reach the playoffs. However Willie's effect on the team causes a major rift between him and the rest of the players. Tony then faces a tough choice when Cap returns and whether or not he should play the old Quarterback or stick with Willie. Tony also has to deal with the team doctor (James Woods) who seems to have no regard for any of the player's long time health and the team's new owner (Cameron Diaz) who insists he play Willie to make more money for the team.
This is one of the best American Football films around. The all star cast work really well together and Al Pacino provides one of his best performances however he doesn't come close to his performance in The Godfather films and Scarface. Jamie Foxx suits the role for Willie Beamen perfectly and was a brilliant choice by the casters. Dennis Quaid really plays the role of the ageing Quarterback well and reminds you of Brett Favre. Cameron Diaz feels very cold in her role in this film but does put in the believable performance.
The script really helps the cast out to and if Oliver Stone was not the director then the film would have suffered. However even if you don't like American Football you will enjoy watching this film and if you ever need any inspiration Al Pacino's speech in the game against Dallas is enough to inspire anyone.
I saw this film when it first came out at the cinema and absolutely loved it, so when it came out on DVD naturally I bought it. A key point to note that I didn't really take in the first time I saw the film is the great plethora of actors and celebrities that are included in this film. The main cast includes Al Pacino (Tony D'Amato - head coach of the Miami Sharks), Cameron Diaz (Christina Pagniacci - new owner of the team), Jamie Fox ('Steamin' Willie Beamen - 3rd string quarterback and start of the movie), LL Cool J (Julian 'J-Man' Washington - player on the team) and Charlton Heston (the commissioner); I'm sure you'll agree it's quite impressive.
The film follows the fortunes of the Miami Sharks, a team which has fallen from grace and is struggling to find form. Injuries to the 1st ( Jack 'Cap' Rooney) and 2nd choice quarterbacks give Willie Beamen his chance to prove what he can do. As the 3rd choice quarterback he is overawed somewhat on his debut and vomits upon reaching the centre of the field - at first the crowd seem to let him off as its his first game, but we soon learn that this is a habitual thing and seems to happen every game, quite gross really! Match by match we see Willie go from strength to strength both on and off the field, making him quite a celebrity - he even manages to get his own song and music video, much to the annoyance of the other players. Under D'Amato and Beamens leadership the team manages to get to the Conference Final, but end up losing to the eventual champions San Francisco.
The best part of the movie in my opinion is the ending. It is quite clear that Christina and Tony don't see eye to eye on a number of topics, chiefly the way the club should be run and who by, so it comes as no surprise that at the end of season press conference Tony D'Amato announces he is leaving the Miami Sharks to become head coach and general manger of a new team, ' he Aztecs.' However, there is an even bigger bombshell to come involving his first signing although I shan't say too much, even if some of you can guess. It's a great ending to a great film.
- directors commentary
- documentary on the making of the movie
- 3 music videos and movie soundtrack
"Hey they love you today, but a season is 16 games kid and its how you live through the bad ones that makes you a quarterback, not a punk"
"He's so freaked about Beamen taking his spot he'd play with a fractured neck!"
I think Any Given Sunday is won of the all-time greatest sports movies. Not only does it have a genuinely great cast and the acting is fantastic, but it explores some sides of American Football that not many people would know about, like illegal drug taking to enhance performance, physiotherapists who push players to play when perhaps they shouldn't because the pressure to win is so great and the ego's of some players.
As I said earlier the ending is amazing and the speech Al Pacino gives is very memorable. Well worth purchasing on DVD.
Director - Oliver Stone (Platoon, 1986, Natural Born Killers 1994 & World Trade Center 2006)
Producers - Richard Donner (The Goonies 1985, Conspiracy Theory 1997, )& Oliver Stone
Released - December 22nd 1999 (DVD 1st September 2000)
Runtime - 150 minutes
Thanks for reading. (also posted on Ciao under the same name)
Every now and then, a director fails to resist the temptation to bring in a load of stars, spend a lot of money and make a huge film. Oliver Stone is well known as a director for making atmospheric and hard-hitting films, and added to his love for the game of American Football, this led him to make Any Given Sunday in 1999/2000. The cutthroat world of sports politics and financial pressure are mixed with some well filmed on the field entertainment to produce a film that many have praised and many have slated. I am in the first category, but I can see why some wouldn't find this their cup of tea.
Any Given Sunday follows the Miami Sharks, a Associated Football Franchises of America (AFFA) Team through the highs and lows of their professional season. With the team struggling, this go from bad to worse when the starting quarterback and national legend 'Cap' Rooney is injured and has to sit out for what looks like the rest of the season. Up steps the second string quarterback, who promptly gets injured himself. To quote the team physio 'What happened? Did he fall off the bench?!' Up steps unkn own third string quarterback Willie Beamen, green and without a clue. He takes over the mantle, runs out onto the field and promptly throws up.
The film follws the Sharks as they continue on their rllercoaster season, with the main focus on Beamen and the Sharks' head coach Tony D'Amato, as the politics of the game and the pressures on the field catalyse into a knife-edge style drama. The Sharks must win their remaining games to have a chance of winning the Superbowl, the most prestigious prize in the sport, and with tensions running high, it could go either way.
The Cast and Performances
Oliver Stone has amassed a maze of stars for this blockbuster. Leading the way as head coach Tony D'Amato is Hollywood heavy Al Pacino. The actor does not normally feature in roles such as this, but he seems a natural to it. He plays the drama side of the role excellently as you would expect, and with confrontation at his door every day from the players, owners and fans, he portrays a character very much wishing he was still living in the past when things were better. Making D'Amato's game time intense is Jamie Foxx as 'Steamin Willie Beamen. Foxx was a relative unknown at this stage, and has only since gone on to become a more household name. As such, his performance here is very humbling to the other cast members, which works as the character finds his way in a cutthroat world of sports and money.
Cameron Diaz is mildly annoying as Christina Pagniacci, who has inherited ownership of the Sharks following her father's death. She irritated me in the role, but I can see this was the type of role that needed this kind of performance - a character out her depth. Dennis Quaid plays Cap Rooney, the injured legendary quarterback. The character was supposedly based on Dan Marino, perhaps the most famous footballer of all time. Quaid is solid in the role, but I find he only has the one expression in the majority of his films - permanently pained! James Woods is quick witted as team doctor Harvey Mandrake, and has the best one-liners in the film. The actor gives a neurotic and intense performance as the doctor who will use any accepted and unaccepted means of getting the players out onto the field.
Other mentions go to LL Cool J and Lawrence Taylor as J-Man and Shark, two of the central player characters, and also Moatthew Modine as Ollie, Mandrake's assistant who questions his superior's unethical procedures. Ann Margret plays Margaret Pagniacci, Christina's mother, and Charlton Heston makes an appearance as a Commissioner. Also watch out for decent performances from Aaron Eckhart, Lauren Holly and a very funny John McGinley. The remainder of the cast do well in their support roles.
As someone who has played American Football in the UK for a number of years and who understands the mental and physical side of the game, and who loves a money-filled blockbuster film, this was a top film for me. Stone has obviously splashed out a lot, not just on the cast but on the filming and the special effects, and editing. The film is long, stretching to two and a half hours, but it is worth it. There is some rousing dialogue, and the film touches on many controversial subjects, including drug use and unethical medical practices.
However, I can see why some would consider this a waste of a few hours. If you weren't a fan of the sport, the interest factor would wane a bit, as there are a lot of 'in' jokes and comments, and some of the film is quite technically geared towards the sport without explanation of any kind. The AFFA is based on the real life National Football League (NFL), and the teams are all fictional. Stone failed to get permission from the NFL to use the name and stadiums for the film. The film was criticised initially for its inaccurate portrayal and for bending towards catering for an entertainment factor as opposed to concentrating on getting things right, but the film commercial success persuaded critics to rate differently, and the film has overall had a very successful rating.
Any Given Sunday: the title of the film is based on the phrase in the sport that on any given Sunday, anything can happen, relating to the fact that the majority of the games on the NFL are played on a Sunday. In its form as a script, the film was called Monday Night, as there is always a highlighted game played on a Monday night as well. The script was written by former NFL star Jamie Williams, and Stone adapted it once he got his directing hands on it.
The camera work in the film is exceptional, and is combined with great effect with the sound effects to create an intensely entertaining atmosphere on the field of play. Attempts to recreate this off the field weren't so successful. Neither were the subplots involving D'Amato and his personal life. The pressures of the political side of the game are handled well, particularly in scenes between Diaz and Pacino, but the inclusion of D'Amato as a divorcee who still yearns for his family back just wasn;t given enough time for it to have any point in the film. Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Beamen for me is the highlight of the film, with the actor showing great maturity in progressing his character's confidence as he goes from zero to hero with a click of the fingers and no time to stop, think or breathe.
If you get the Special Edition Director's Cut, there is a plethora of extras that explain a lot and don't at the same time. The highlight for many here will be the extremely informative commentary feature with Oliver Stone and his cast and crew explaining their way through the 2 and a half hours of the film. There is also a documentary on the making of the film, which is sometimes helpful but not actually that interesting and doesn;t answer half of the questions it poses. There are 3 music videos, which leads me onto the soundtrack. This is not actually included on the DVD, but it is one well worth having, especially if you are into your hip hop. Performers include LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, Outkast, Kid Rock and Smokey Robinson, and it is an excellent soundtrack. But again, like the film, you need to be a fan of the genre to like it!
There are naturally some outakes and a gag reel, as you would expect with most DVD extras these days, and you can actually see Jamie Foxx's audition tape. There are also some interactive features if you put the disc into your computer, but these are by and large pointless and held no interest to me.
Overall, I would give this DVD a 5 star rating from my personal point of view, as I enjoyed it immensely. Men will like it more than women. There is a macho element to the film, and egos flying high, and players of the game will be even more in favour, I imagine. Quotes such as 'I'm a Football player. You gotta pump up the volume here!' would be lost on those thinking the quote related to football as we know it, soccer if you like.
I can see how others would rate this film a lot lower, as it doesn't cover the spectrum for catchment of audiences. This is geared towards fans of American Football and those who love an over the top blockbuster. Others won't go for it. As for me, I have the DVD and have watched it many times. Guess which category I fall into!
I thought it would be the right time to review one of my favourite sports films.
Any Given Sunday was made in 1999 with an all star cast featuring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and James Woods.
This is directed by Oliver Stone.
The film is about a team the Miami Sharks and their season.
It starts when the teams all star quarterback (Cap Rooney) gets injured in a game between the Americans and gets taken out of the game. The sharks are already having a three game loosing streak and cannot afford to loose any more if they want to make the playoffs. The Americans turn the game around for themselves after being behind and take advantage of Caps injury.
Head coach Tony Di Marco puts in his third string quarterback Willie Beamen who has not been in many games at all. Willie has been a very underestimated young quarterback and pulls the team back to try and win. Despite all efforts the team looses 38-34.
Cap is in a terrible state and is out for the rest of the season after tearing ligaments, Tony is not very happy about this but will stand by his players through thick and thin but will always do the best for the team.
Christina Pagniacci the manager of the team is not very happy at the moment, she has been offered to sell the team or threaten to move the team to LA for more money to get a new stadium and a winning team.
Without getting into too much detail for those of you who do not know the game the rest of the story is about the rest of the teams season trying to get to the Panthium Cup (films made up name for SuperBowl) and there is a very believable storyline as some NFL teams go through this every year. This revolves around the players, back office staff, coach, manager, doctors, fans, newscasters and everything involved around the game.
There is a special guest appearance by Lawrence Taylor who was the New York Giants linebacker who retired in the late 90's.
For me this was an excellent made film which I enjoyed with great enthusiasm as I know the sport well.
The acting was very good by all involved in this movie and had a highly believable storyline.
I really liked the way that the league had been set out, it must have took so much imagination and hard work to do all this just for one film.
I liked the way in which every person in the making of this film took special time to have a look around some of the NFL's teams to get a better look and train for this film.
The DVD itself is a very well presented and put together package, coming in a two disk set.
The first disk contains the film which is presented in Dolby Digital sound. The film lasts for 151 minutes and is in widescreen format. The DVD I am reviewing is the region 2 version.
There is scene access, languages in English and French, and subtitles in English/French/Italian/Dutch/Arabic/Spanish/Portugese/German
Disk 2 contains all of the special features that include :
Making of Any Given Sunday. I found this to be a marvellous watch and it was incredible the way that a whole league was made up for this film, as obviously they couldn't use the NFL for this (National Football League). It was a lot of groundwork that went into the making of this film and you will hear this from the stars. Some of the actors playing the team had to go to football training camp for four weeks so they knew a lot of what to expect and to get them fitter and more believable for the roles they were about to be playing in the film.
Al Pacino got to train with some of the head coaches for his role, which they didn't mind at all !
I have found this to be the best making of featurette in any sports film I have ever seen on DVD.
A commentary by Oliver Stone and cast and crew. This proves a valuable insight listning to all of what they have to say about the making of the film and all the interviewing to get the right people for the job. The commentary is very well presented and great to listen to.
There is a music only track, this has a mixture of rock music, and some softer songs depending on the mood of the film at the time.
This has an excellent soundtrack and one of the best I have heard on a film.
There are deleted and extended scenes, which you can play with or without commentary on them. If you play with commentary it gives you the director talking over the scene explaining why it was cut or not as long as it was originally supposed to be in the film. This is very interesting seeing if it was cut just for time reasons or any other reason during the making of it.
There are three music videos on this :
Shut Em Down by LL Cool J
Any Given Sunday by Jamie Foxx
My name is Willy
Jamie Foxx audition tape and screen tests
Stills gallery. This takes you through the making of the film with lots of photo shots from start to finish.
This also gives you different poster and promotional pictures.
There is an outtakes and gag reel which is quite funny to watch especially when Al Pacino is in fits of laughter and can't talk !!
There is also a lot of DVD ROM featurettes that include :
Chat room access and site links
From script to screen.
Trace the final touchdown scene, a portion of the "Ben-Hur" sequence, from original script through directors cuts notes and rough cut filming to final release
Virtual edit suite.
See Oliver Stones editing process, use alternate cuts and alternatives yourselfs
Movie review scoreboard.
Read articles and select reviews
Test all your gridiron knowledge and test yourself on the film
Original theatrical web site
All in all this is an excellent DVD package with a great film and some marvellous extras on it, it would help if you knew some of the background of the sport as if you don't it may be a bit confusing at times !
Before I review this film, I have to admit that I rented it out purely on the strength of the names on the box! I reasoned that any film featuring Al Pacino, James Woods, Charlton Heston, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Modine and the delights of Cameron Diaz had to be pretty good, even though American Football held no particular attraction for me – and I wasn’t disappointed! The story centres on several figures, all of whom are involved with the Miami Sharks gridiron team: Pacino plays Tony D’Amato who has been head coach since time immemorial, and he is now locked in conflict with the new owner of the team’s franchise, played by Cameron Diaz. He had enjoyed a special relationship when her father was in charge of the club but she is not as willing to tolerate his foibles, or the losing streak the team is on as the film gets underway... D’Amato pins his hopes squarely on the shoulders of star quarterback ‘Cap’ Rooney (Dennis Quaid), but he suffers a severe back injury in a crucial game, swiftly followed by his back-up, leaving the coach with no choice but to call on rookie 3rd-string thrower Willie Beamen. Although the new kid does pull it together and make a couple of touchdown passes, the team falls apart at the last, undone by showboating by star player (and shameless mercenary) Washington, played with surprising conviction by LL Cool J. The film focuses on several struggles: Rooney is desperate to return to full fitness and regain his place in time for the vital play-off games, Beamen is equally determined to make the most of his break and cement a place in the winning team, D’Amato needs the team to turn results around as his job and reputation are on the line, and the team’s owner is fighting against prejudice but determined to leave her unique mark on pro football and will not let reputations stand in the way of success. Beamen pulls out some showstopping performances to take
the team back into contention, but in so doing he ignores the coach’s playbook and breaks the rules – he introduces his own plays in the huddle, thus incurring D’Amato’s wrath and appearing arrogant in the eyes of his own, more experienced team-mates... he is introduced to the world of the pro ball player, a world seemingly dominated by money, drugs and girls, and comes perilously close to losing his focus and submerging himself in his own hype. D’Amato meanwhile is intent on drumming the importance of playing as a team into the collective of selfish individuals in his locker room, thus giving Pacino the chance to pull out some stirring speeches at various points in the film while the players lurch from triumph to disaster. The importance of the results is secondary to him to the importance of ‘living and dying ... and winning and losing like a man’, something that some of the players don’t seem to grasp. Indeed, the excessive importance placed by those involved on winning (and the win bonuses) is shown by a flat refusal to look medical advice in the face, and by the doctoring of test results by the medical team (headed by the excellent James Woods) to prolong players’ careers, even if it is at the expense of their long-term health. Even if you don’t like American Football, this is well worth watching – as is to be expected with an Oliver Stone film, the direction is superb and the cast pull together to deliver some sterling performances. The action sequences are very well done indeed (and although I don’t understand the intricacies of offensive and defensive plays, it soon becomes clear what a ‘Comanche’ must be from the context of the film), mixing TV camera views with player cams as the tackles come flying in, and eyeballs pop out! What happens in the end? Do the Sharks pull together and make it all the way? Who does D’Amato pick for the vital g
ame, fans’ hero Rooney or Steamin’ Beamen? Well, I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen this film, but suffice to say that Stone avoids the easy, sentimental ending and there is a nice twist, as D’Amato gets his own back on those who doubted him.
Oliver Stone has a well deserved reputation for being an excellent director. Unfortunately with this offering he struggles to take what is a poor story and convert it into anything more than a sub-standard "TV movie". Admittedly American Football is not my forte, and that is the driving force behind this film. However, making a film which only appeals to American Football fans is surely very limiting, so i can only assume Mr Stone wanted to make this film assecible to many more than that. He failed. It has been a long time since i saw a film which didn't even have a single moment of interest within it, it's a shame this movie had to break that trend. The basic storyline is similar to plenty of films before it. You know the sort of thing, unknown sportsman becomes star despite all odds. Ok, so Stone adds a wider off-pitch scenario than is usually seen in films of this type, but that doesn't help. The direction and cinematography itself is, on occasion, actually quite good, but that can't help what are only very mediocre roles and performances for the films star names, Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz. I don't know, maybe if you are a huge Football fan this film will strongly appeal to you. If not, i wouldn't recommend it. It tries to be many different things - sports film, gritty, behind the scenes drama, etc - but does not succeed in any of them. Thankfully, Stone, Pacino and Diaz have plenty of other acheievments to their names that allow this film to fall into obscurity without damaging their usually exemplary performances.
First take a couple of aspirin. You'll need them. In the 80's Greed was good (Wall Street), in the 90's excess is apparantly good. The experience of watching Any Given Sunday means allowing Director Oliver Stone to orchestrate an all assault on most of your senses. You'll feel beat up and exhausted by the time the film is even half over and Stone will continue to kick you, scream at you, sucker punch you, pummel you, let a 300 pound gorilla will jump up and down on you and then drag your carcass over broken glass. Your arm will be ripped off and you'll be beaten severally with it. You'll somehow be turned inside out and salt will be poured on you. Stone decided several movies ago that he enjoyed beating up the people who watch his movies? but in this one he's found a way to conduct an all out offensive on the movie goer. Hey a few people like that kind of thing, right?. Actually I thought maybe I would to. I mean it's not boring. Stone has always delivered films that assault the senses. It started with DePalma's Scarface (which Stone wrote) and his own Salvador, escalated to Platoon, started to become a cliché by the time of Wall Street and The Doors and then went into hyper space with Natural Born Killers. Would you even guess that Oliver Stone could outdo the assault he beat up audiences with in Natural Born Killers? Do you think there is a way to be more over-the -top than that movie was unless it involves martial arts and things blowing up? There is. It's called Any Given Sunday. And as unlikely as it might seem, it's a football movie,-- Not a war film?though you'll feel like you've been part of a brutal fire-fight before it's over. If you thrive on excess and I mean really and truly and positively thrive on excess then, as Neil Young never said: this Stone's for you. Let me put it another way. Would you rather watch an old fashio
ned romantic love scene with an Audrey Hepburn or a Cary Grant, or do you prefer watching gang bangs with volume turned up to 11? Any Given Sunday is the kind of film that doesn't just give you one or two or even three multiple quick cut establishing shots to begin nearly every scene in the film, it gives you a dozen. This is beyond a director showing off for the sake of showing off.. There are strange shots which make no sense whatsoever but merely serve as something that was shot to stick between two other shots. There are triple and quadruple angles on charging football players, shots from inside football helmets, crane shots, steadicam shots, and lots of tracking and hand held shots. There are huge booming bangs and mini-explosions as football player tackle each other and then suddenly, the sound disappears completely. There's slow-mo, there's some digitally altered work with motion and speed. It's all here. Why? To present this manic unofficial update and remake on North Dallas Forty. A film you'll be wishing you were watching rather than this mess. Because of the flash and over-kill it takes Stone a full 45 minutes to set up the film. It could have been done in ten. Lots of characters to introduce us to. None of them are original and none of them will have any depth. Oh sure there's an impressive list of actors on view, and I expected at any moment that Bruce Dern as a terrorist and the Goodyear blimp would show up ala Black Sunday. The plot? Not a lot to that either. The Miami Sharks have lost 4 games straight and the once great team may not make the play-offs. It's star quarterback (Dennis Quaid)is getting old and yikes... gets badly injured. Out of nowhere the third string quarterback shows promise, but he's not a team player. The coach (Al Pacino)has lost his fire for the game. The new team owner is a young overly ambitious woman (Cameron Diaz) who wants to prove
she can more ruthless and heartless than anyone.. even Steinbrenner!!! She wants to win and doesn't care who she has to threaten, fire, or manipulate to do it. Sound familiar? Of course it does. All of the characters we meet in Any Given Sunday are familiar and you the viewer can color them in. In fact, you better have a lot crayons because as these characters are written there isn't much offered in terms of depth or nuance. Nuance? Who's got time for such things in a 2 hour and 36 minute Oliver Stone movie. Now pardon me while I add some elements to this shot... I'll have some music playing, I'll have a sports guy on the television talking quite negatively about the coach of the Sharks (Pacino) while he sits in the crowded bar getting very drunk (what a man!) and is propositioned by a young high priced hooker, Elizabeth (ShowGirls) Berkley. They'll seem like there are five or six things going on at once. Of course none of it is very important, or original, but the audience will be just over-whelmed with all this stuff, all this detail. Well unimportant, details... but lots of them. You know constant movement, the camera, characters, lots of things to cut to, lots of noise. There are some great shots in this movie. But when you throw this much at the wall, some of it has to stick. Occasionally, when you senses aren't being over-loaded and assaulted by a chaotic cacophony of sound, camera movement and weird quick cuts and camera angles, you realize there are some really awful bits of dialogue being spouted in this film. In fact there are several scenes which really needed a zinger, a clever line, a nice bit of business, a special moment, to make the scene work or even have any purpose whatsoever-and we get nothing. It lies there. Well it doesn't lie there exactly because we are always cutting, the camera is always moving. There might be some people who are fooled by t
his technique, but most will get very tired of it after the films first half hour. Since it starts at a manic over-the top level it can't build.. it has no place else to go unless people just start to spontaneously combust (and actually they almost do--that with the sound effects sounding like the football players explode when they touch each other and an eyeball flying out of player after a rough tackle) . Oh you aren't squeamish are you? What's really annoying though isn't merely how loud and obnoxious all this is, but how repetitious it is. You have all these camera angles, all these tricks, all this coverage of every conceivable angle. . . from a puppet master director who doesn't trust his audience, his script or even his actors. He manipulates every single aspect of what we are watching. Rarely is a shot held for move than a few seconds. He keeps moving but it's over the same territory over and over and over again. Stone also has nothing new to say. He's pretending it's a clever original idea to compare the gladiator contests of the past to modern football and then showing in utter over-wraught melodramatic fashion how football is a business and the players and coaches are pawns USED by the people with money and power. I'll bet you had no idea , right? This film is not exhilarating, it's exhausting. And since the film is not telling us a single thing which hasn't been done before (and better) it is all a waste of time, energy and talent. Over and over and over again we are shown bits of pieces of the game in almost the same way. Once, twice, three and four times we see similar types of shots of crowds, fans, coaches, players, refs, cheerleaders, people in the press box...(. Eeek.. There's Oliver Stone doing play by play announcing) not just introducing the big game... but as a prelude to every game we see, even to one of the practices. Look look... We got a big budget to
spend and we can hire lots of extras... I can shoot lots and lots of film. Looky Looky...!!!! I'll have full frontal male nudity to break a few more rules... kind of.. I mean full frontal adult male nudity and Harvey Keitel isn't in the movie. It gets really ridiculous at times if you're not too numb and utterly desensitized to pay attention. Like when we hear an announcer on t.v. talking about 'a swirl of events', and the camera is on a team graphic and begins to swirl slightly as it cuts to another shot, probably one of a team flag, there's lots of shots of team flags. You can cut to them almost at any time and so Stone does. What clever, brilliant, film-making. Now the NFL didn't cooperate with the filming of the movie so the teams in this movie have names like The Miami Sharks instead of The Miami Dolphins. Don't want you the audience to miss what we are doing here. And since there's all these made up team flags.. well I guess we need to show them... A LOT. Now I'm not the least surprised at the film's excesses. This is Oliver Stone and Stone is the king of excess. Fairly humorless, obvious, in your face brutal excess. Excess-- that is unafraid to run a long section of the Ben Hur chariot race sequence, when the coach and his impossible to manage quarterback are having a one on one (try to bond with one another) meeting. Excess -- that uses Native American Burial chants as part of the music at the big football game (shades of the Atlanta Braves Eh?). What's really surprising is how all this excess fails to create any tension or suspense within scenes. Scenes feel like they are being thrown at you like Frisbees... one right after the other, a little faster here, a little slower there, you won't be able to catch them all,-- some will bounce off you're your head or leg, or chest. Salvador and Platoon and Wall Street and Talk Radio were excessive films but I
thought they were above average worthwhile films. There's so much smoke and mirror razzle dazzle going on in Any Given Sunday, the audience never even gets to see one complete football play in a manner that makes any sense.. You get no sense of strategy, no sense of team-work, no sense of a finely oiled team running their patterns or hitting their spots, or any of that. You get this manic, over-kill, over and over again. It saps your interest, your energy, until you wonder.. why, oh why, am I watching this junk? Remarkably, there are some good actors, who are pretending they are in a good movie and trying to give good performances despite the poor quality of the script. There's James Woods playing a real creep of a team medical doctor and assisted by a much more caring Mathew Modine. He positively drips with well meaning goo. What a nice guy he is. There's Dennis Quaid and Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown...( well Jim Brown still isn't much an actor but hell he's Jim Brown....) James Karen looking like Senator Simon, is damn near restrained. Aaron Eckhart, Bill Bellamy, LL Cool J, John C. McGinley chewing up the scenery as muck-raking, tryin' to be 'down with that' sports reporter (ugh), Lela Rochon, and Ann Margaret as an alcoholic widow. Charlton Heston even shows up and if you look fast you'll spot Jonny Unitas as an opposing coach in a couple of shots.. Nobody, however, told them they are merely talking visuals in a sports video montage, so there is some genuine charisma, energy and even talent in what they are doing. It too is a trick though, because it's all in support of stale ideas.. worse the whole thing collapses before it's over by going soft on you. Maybe Oliver Stone was channeling old Irwin Allen. You know get some stars together and make a disaster film. Of course in this case it's get a lot of stars together and make a film that's a disaster. Oh
sorry that was a cheap shot. Never mind the appology I sat through this expensively mounted insult. Jamie Foxx makes a favorable impression in what amounts to one of the two main lead talking visuals of the film. He manages at times to show a couple sides to his character. Rarely does Stone hang around the actors long enough for us to see more than one emotion per shot, so it's a real accomplishment that somehow Foxx makes any kind of impression. Five years from now you might actually remember he did a damn good job in one hell of a messy film about football. Al Pacino does pretty much what you would expect Al to do it. He does it with a lot more class than the script and film deserves, but you've come to expect that from Al too. At times he seems to be enjoying himself enough, that you almost forget to be embarrassed that he's wasting his charisma on this junk. Course a lot of his performances now are full of Pacino-isms, which include that modulation of his voice which he now makes real gravelly. This comes in handy since he's playing an almost burnt out, alcoholic coach. There are too many scenes where Pacino is left hanging out to dry. There needs to be another line, or we need to spend a little more time with him, or move onto the next scene with him for some quiet time. That never happens in this film. Cameron Diaz brings a lot of energy to her ice-princess trying to make it in a man's world , team owner. The way her part is written however, I kept expecting to discover we were caught inside a bad 1970's Disney movie and she was going to remove her latex facial mask, ala Mission Impossible and reveal she was actually Joe Flynn. It's amazing she doesn't get her comeuppance by having a bucket of paint thrown on her, or at least getting hit with several messy pies. Now don't get me wrong, she's a beautiful woman to look at, and she plays her part much better ( a
nd somehow without a trace of camp,) than it deserves to be played. She's given a thankless role and she gives the role a little bit of dignity. What's perhaps worst of all, (You mean there's more?) is when this film goes soft on it's North Dallas Forty borrowed examination of the football game and turns into a corny cliche'd update of The Knute Rockne Story. Yup... at about the two hour mark, you realize the film is shifting. In the last fifteen minutes most of the major characters have changes of heart, the fiercely independent-- understand how important teamwork is, those who lost their passion-- find it again, the cold of heart-- realize warmth is important and maybe winning at every cost isn't really worth it etc. etc. Before you can say 'win one for the gipper', everyone has made up, and most of the characters have received some sort of epiphany which will make them happier and slightly nicer people. Lessons have been learned. There is hope after all. Come on everyone... one... two... three... awwwwww. After all of this over-kill, the film has finally decided it's really a feel-good movie. Damn, this movie has everything. Everything. Incredible. It's gritty, it's nasty, has full frontal male nudity, rap music, r and b, thrash metal, pranks-- like a small crocodile in the shower and a car being power sawed in half, and yet it still manages to cop out and get corny. What more could any filmgoer want or need. All hail Oliver!!!! Then the credits start. It ain't over yet. Oh no... as the credits roll there's an extended press conference scene and an out of left field a cute twist is thrown to the audience. Its suppose to show I suppose, that this is not your corny updated Hollywood film of old after all , but still an in your face, take no prisoners, realistic modern sports story. Never-mind that there is no hint through the entire film that this minor twist i
s coming. It's pretty clever, might make you laugh and well that's reason enough to make it happen. After throwing everything including 25 different styles of the kitchen sink at you, Stone wants the film to be absolutely everything, the last word in football/sports movies. Now I realize the cast might make it impossible for you to resist the film. And for an hour of so it isn't boring. It's not any good, but it's not boring. If there is anyone out there who actually thinks this film has much merit I hope you'll quickly get a copy of North Dallas Forty (or perhaps Slap Shot) and see what a good film about sports is all about. Better yet, get the documentary Hoop Dreams which is a brilliant film not enough people have seen. It's about basketball but covers the same themes as this one does. Cast and Crew: Cast : Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx,, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, LL Cool J, Mathew Modine, Charlton Heston, Ann-Margret, Aaron Eckert, John C. McGinley, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown Bill Bellamy, Andrew Bryniarski, Lela Rochon, Lauren Holly, Elizabeth Berkley, Clifton Davis, Y.A Tittle, Dick Butkus, Warren Moon, and Johnny Unitas. Written by: Daniel Pyne, John Logan, and Oliver Stone Produced by: Richard Donner, Oliver Stone, Lauren Shuler Donner, John Logan, Clayton Townsend and Dan Halsted Directed by: Oliver Stone Score by : Robbie Robertson (and others) Original Music by DMX, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Kid Rock, etc. etc. DVD IMAGE AND SOUND The audio and video quality on thE SPECIAL edition of Any Given Sunday is identical to the original release and the two disc set released formerly in the Oliver Stone box set. It's interesting to note that Stone added a couple of scenes for the original DVD release of this film last September (in January 2001 as part of the Stone box set a second disc full of extras was added). Th
e director's cut differs from the theatrical release, but since Stone trimmed and re-cut a couple of other scenes the running time of the film is within a minute of the original theatrical version. Video sharpness and clarity is top notch. A few speckles of grain that aren't intentional is about the only negative you will find on this disc. Oliver Stone of course throws all manner of film and video stocks at you, but any poor video quality you see is entirely intentionally. The colors are bright and vivid. The black levels are high. The contrasts are clearly defined and I didn't notice any evidence of edge enhancement. The sound is loud, crisp and clear. You'll hear every over amplified bone crunching sound, every vein popping scream, all of the bass heavy rap and head banger rock used in the film louder and clear. Your windows will rattle, your floor will rumble, your neighbors l may call 9 1 1 . Pop those aspirin. The Dolby Digital 5.1 uses ever channel of your system. As Stone's camera careens all over the screen and we cut fast cut after fast cut , the sound bounces from speaker to speaker. A thunder crash, the grunts and groans, the roar of the crowd, the soundtrack music all mixed together so each is clear and bright and you can still hear the dialogue when characters speak loud and clear. It's loud and so expertly mixed it's all crystal clear and well defined. DVD EXTRAS !!!! There is no shortage of features on these two discs: Disc 1 features two separate feature length commentary tracks (see below); there is a music only track which allows you isolate and hear the music tracks used throughout the film; there is a special instant replay features that highlights and plays some of the football field action sequences from the film; there are selected cast and crew filmographies and the theatrical trailer. Disc 2 is arranged in an clever fashion. It'
;s split up into three sections pre-game, half-time, and postgame. In the PREGAME section you'll find an amateur video of Jamie Foxx and some of his friends playing football for about three and a half minutes. This was part of how Foxx auditioned for the film. There are also two screen tests featured of Foxx. Combined they barely last three minutes. Then there is the 27 minute HBO First Look special: Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday. This is a standard puff piece bit of promotion for the movie and features a too slick combination of scenes from the films, quick interview snippets with the actors and a few behind the scenes shots. It's entertaining but of little value. Al Pacino didn't make himself available for interviews when this was being made. In the Halftime section are three music videos. There's LL Cool J's Shut 'em Down, and two from Jamie Foxx's songs: My Name is Willie and Any Given Sunday. LL Cool J's video is an MTV type video while Foxx's consists of clips from the film. The POSTGAME section of the disc offers the best extras on the disc. The gag reel is a too short four minutes but has a couple of laugh out loud funny moments and includes a funny bit with James Woods and Al Pacino. There is a collection of football action alternate takes which include an extended scene of dialogue of Pacino and the referee. All of this combined is about 8 minutes. There's three and a quarter minutes of additional out-takes to be seen in the Miscellanous/Landscape section that are of minor interest consisting of alternate takes on establishing shots mostly. The Art of Selling is a section that shows the various posters used for advertising the film in the U.S. and other countries. There are also so poster designs shown that were never used. There's a very extensive still gallery that features 121 shots and you can
let them run while listening to the music and sound effects provided in the background. There are 14 deleted or extended scenes included on the disc that were not part of either the theatrical or DVD directors cut of the film. Several scenes include more footage of Bill Bellamy's character. You can also listen to Oliver Stone's commentary on these scenes as well. I thought at first that something was wrong because Stone doesn't comment at all on the first three scenes that are included. In fact he only comments on about half the scenes included. Some of these deleted scenes are very interesting and as good as anything already in the film.Stone makes the comment that most of them are good enough that they should have been left in the film. Stone of course could have made sure they were in the film for his director's cut of the film but then he wouldn't have deleted scenes for the DVD extras. There is also several features on the ROM only section on the disc. The special event Olive Oil Stone held at the start of the football season last year...and you get a link to that with this disc. You also get a sports trivia challenge game You can see a couple of scenes from the film and switch back and forth to the script complete with Oliver Stones notes. There is a Virtual Edit Suite which includes commentaries by editor Tom Nordberg and Oliver Stone and allows you to see how as scene was constructed and put together in the edit room. You see some dailies, you see the rough cut without music and the various versions as it progresses to it's final cut. This is a pretty informative and interesting addition to the package. There's an extensive essay which covers reviews for Any Given Sunday and mentions several other football films. There are also links to allow you to buy merchandise and soundtracks. DVD COMMENTARY TRACK: On disc 1 you'
ll find two feature length commentary tracks. The first one is by Oliver Stone and he has lots to say on a whole spectrum of subjects from the lack of cooperation he received from the N.F.L. and how they even asked members not to assist in anyway with the filming of this project. Stone explains how it was important to him to communicate how he sees and feels with game and he the game has been commercialized and changed over the years. He complimantes all of the hard work and dedication of his actors (particularly Cameron Diaz) and then goes into some detail about the logistics of shooting the film and shooting a lot of in Miami (Scarface country). Stone talks about the thrill of working with some of his sports idols like Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas and goes into diatribes on the Cold War and lots more. What a guy !!! The second feature length commentary is by Jamie Foxx and he doesn't have quite as much to say. Sometimes he takes long silent breaks. Of course he talks about his experiences of working on the film and with such a huge talented cast. He has nothing but compliments and praises for Oliver Stone and does manage to give some interesting perspective on several scenes and some behind the scenes gossip. He talks quite a bit about some of the preparations and hard work that went into certain scenes. He mentions the fights he had with cast member LL Cool J which got some press during the making of the film. He also comments quite a bit on the women that appear in the film. You'll also hear his entertaining imitation of Al Pacino. BOTTOM LINE Yep this is a long almost excessive review or an extremely excessive film. Technically you'll be hard pressed to find a better DVD package. It looks great, it sounds every bit like it should and the DVD is loaded with extras and commentaries. However, Al Pacino who has been involved with film promotions and DVD extras on some other films is conspicuously absent
from this one. The film itself however is an awful, over-the-top mess. It's simplistic, manipulative, cliched, ridiculous and wastes a stellar cast. It's all been pumped up and presented with every single trick film trick that you could ever imagine. It's not dull, but by the end of it, your senses will be. Of course that's just my not so humble opinion. Perhaps if you haven't seen North Dallas Forty and don't realize that professional sports is a business you might not find some of the story aspects of the film less obvious and stale than others will. Perhaps the over-kill presentation won't grate on you and you won't get tired of it when it repeats itself over and over again. Perhaps decent performances by Jamie Foxx and Pacino are worth the headache and whiplash the film will give you. It does have a great cast right? PLEASE watch HOOP DREAMS, and NORTH DALLAS FORTY and for fun SLAP SHOT before wasting your time on this one. If you've already watched it... do your pennance. Christopher Jarmick,is the author of The Glass Coccon with Serena F. Holder a critically acclaimed, steamy suspense thriller. For information on Author readings/signings or availability of special autographed editions of the novel email: glasscocoon@hotmail for details. Original portions of this review Copyright© Christopher J. Jarmick 2001. The above work is protected by international copyright law.
I was actually on holiday in Thailand when this first came out, there had been very little publicity in the UK so I hadn't heard anything about it. I saw that some of my favourite actors were involved, Pacino, Woods, Modine and it was about American Football so I thought why not. Was I disappointed ? No way. The script is a little clichéd I have to admit with the changing of the old guard to herald in the new. But most films about sports are. What makes you forget about the relative lack of quality is the performances and the cinematography. Al Pacino is the intense and stressed out coach of this fictional Miami team. He's got the character nailed to a T as the divorced, old school coach with a minor drink problem. He gets to yell ALOT especially in his final “feet and inches” pep speech in the playoffs. Not as memorable or as deep a character as we are used to seeing Pacino play but he still gives his all. Dennis Quaid underplays his role as the All American veteran quarterback who gradually accepts that his body has betrayed him after suffering injury after injury during his career. But this works as he is not supposed to be a leading character. Cameron Diaz portrays a tough as nails owner of the Miami Sharks ( which had been left to her by her father). She is a take charge no nonsense kind of lady and runs her team with an iron hand encased in a soft suede glove. She holds her own along side Pacino with plenty left to spare. For me that is quite a compliment because Al Pacino is just about the best in the business. The big headed Prima Dona of the Miami Sharks, Willie Steamin Beamen, is played by Jamie Foxx ( who is supposedly huge in America ). He has been a major bench warmer until the fateful game when both quarterbacks above him are injured and he is plunged head first into the game. He promptly throws up and this becomes his trademark. Foxx's character is an interesting study in just ho
w quickly success can rearrange a person's entire life. This character's head gets bigger than Alec Fergusons’. There are some top names in this movie. James Woods does a fine job of playing the doctor who has to forget his Hippocratic oath so that he can let “the gladiators” play the game they live and in some cases are prepared to die for. Jim Brown makes a showing as an assistant coach for the Sharks, Charlton Heston is cold as ice as the league commissioner and Ann Margaret does a convincing job as the dazed and confused mother of Cameron Diaz's character. ( Got to be honest, I don't know who she is but am told she was big back in the 60s ) Oliver Stone puts you right in the mix. It felt sort of like being in the middle of a elephant stampede complete with the rumbling ground and lots of bone crunching and crackling sounds. Ouch!. The photography in this film deserves special praise. The honours go to Salvatore Totino. He photographs football like a choreographer. Every movement is essential, every shot perfectly framed. And if a full contact sport could be called art, his efforts make it so. In order to get that air of authenticity, Stone actually hired a lot of the guys who film the NFL week in week out so they can catch that perfect spiral. One word of warning, this is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. With the fast cuts, pacy dialogue and all too realistic hits on the field you could end up reaching for a bucket. It's a long movie, about 2 1/2 hours, perhaps about 15/20 minutes too long, so pop plenty of popcorn and sit back for an in your face look at american football. The extras on the DVD are superb. There is a very interesting commentary from Stone about the whys and wherefores of the movie and how it was built. The second disk contains most of the extras though. Deleted / extended scenes. 3 music videos, A making of documentary, the different marketing images
that they came up with to sell the film in different markets ( the UK & America have different covers), a montage of the football scenes, a photo gallery, a quiz, a script to screen trace of one of the vital scenes and a detailed look at the editing process for a scene and how the decisions are made for specific angles and cuts. The transfer to DVD is superb with crystal clear picture and sometimes all too real bone crunching sound in Dolby digital. The film is in wide screen 2.35.1 ratio.
Oliver Stone is a very intelligent director, you have to give him that much. To say that he is untalented would be a crime, but then to say that he is actually 'watchable' these days is another matter. Any Given Sunday is a perfect example of a director who has been allowed to let his own sense of self-importance go to his head and how left unrestrained this leads to lengthy works of ego-massaging cinematic masturbation. At almost 3 hours long, Any Given Sunday soils the sheets on a number of levels and it is only due to the superb cast that it manages to hold our interest for any of its length. Stone has been obviously been allowed to let his 'creative juices' run wild here and the result ranges from the truly sublime to a noisy chaotic mess of hip-hop metal fusion and overly flash editing. At the end of the day its just a football movie, but Stone obviously had some ideas of a grander plan...and then lost his way and reproduced 'Wildcats' in the final reel...ho hum... The trailer for this movie is probably the loudest, most gruelling sensory assault effect committed to a 2 minutes segment. Any Given Sunday is the same - but longer. Much, much longer. It opens as it means to go on, clenching its message up in a mailed fist and ramming it hard and deep down the audience's throats. a techno rock and hip-hop fusion sound track assaults you as you are presented with the grid-iron in mid game. Football is a battlefield, there is your message and Stone presents the opening scenes like the storming of the beaches at Normandy. It is no less intense than those scenes in Saving Private Ryan and the parallels are too marked to be accidental - the agenda is set for the rest of the movie. Football IS war, the gridiron IS a battlefield and the audience is in for one hell of a gruelling experience. Al Pacino is Tony D'Amato, the head coach of the Miami Sharks, a US football team competing in a ficticious parallel competition to the Superbo
wl. When his star quarterback gets injured he is posed with an immediate problem and has to rely upon the skills of a talented but untried rookie to fill the breach he has left. So, out steps the injured Jack Rooney(Dennis Quaid) to be replaced by Willie Beaman(Jamie Foxx)....who turns out to be an unqualified success. He also turns out to be an over-confident, bigheaded young fool who has lets his success fly to his head after a couple of spectacular performances and great wins for the Sharks. He angers pretty much everyone around him including multi-million dollar running back Julian Washington(LL Cool J.) and his coach of course, but D'Amato is refused permission to drop him by the club's owner Christiana Pagniacci(Cameron Diaz). He stays and plays and tensions flair both on and off the pitch in the locker rooms and the boardroom alike. Despite coming in at a hefty 3 hours long, Any Given Sunday is a pretty simplistic tale pointing out the obvious once more - how money has ruined professional football. Or at least thats what the first 2 hours seems to be about before it turns into a rehash of just about every other football movie which has preceded it. Big speeches, testosterone and a grand-slam ending mark the inexplicable final hour which pretty much undermines that which as come before - and makes the interesting point of how big bucks has ruined movie making perhaps and Stone tries to line his pockets by giving the cinema audience what they want rather than sticking to the art... Its hardly a criticism but its like watching two movies here, the first a verfy hard hitting cynical look at pro football and the second Wildcats done by a director who knows what he is doing. Its not that it doesn't work, but rather that the two do not sit particularly comfortable together. The first half of the movie is however excellent, with the typically hard-bitten craggy performance from Pacino which we ahve all come to expect. This guy eats this
kind of role for breakfast and whilst it may not be upto the best of his career, it is certainly a fine performance. So too is that of Cameron Diaz, who play his ball-breaking super-bitch boss here. We get to see a new dimension to her acting abilities here and the best scenes in the movie are when these two go toe-to-toe in a slanging match. Pacino is though the scene stealer here as always, turning up the gas on every scene he is in. Everyone else is good, including comedian Foxx who manages to hold his own admirably here faced with some of Hollywood's big guns, as does rapper LL Cool J. No one could ever dismiss this as just another football movie but at the same time you have to wonder why it took 3 hours to tell such a simple tale. In fact, the first two hours are pretty much all said and done in one scene, Pacino shaking his head at what football has become...nuff said. The rest of the movie feels like an ego trip by a director who is obviously out of control but then at the same time you would have to argue that this is certainly his most accessible and universally enjoyable movie for a long time, if not ever. Don't be put off by the fact that its American Football, and therefore not something you can relate to or understand, because that really doesn't matter too much, it is the confrontations between the stars and the adrenaline packed 'battlefield' scenes which make this movie rather than the sport behind it. The message here is true for our own football so there is no huge mental leap to be made either. Its difficult to recommend though...I liked it and at the same time I had this nagging urge for it to finish and to stop battering me with constant over-indulgent photography and loud music. I have to admit too that I lost interest in the actual plot by around halfway as well and hence I would have to rate it as a wavering 3/5...although subsequent viewings may change that, one way or another.
Though this is a Warner DVD presentation - and therefore presented in a Poor quality cardboard case, this DVD really does make up for it in terms of the extra features and quality of the film. Basically the plot is as such; an American Fooball team, need to do well in the remaining league games to clinch a place in the playoffs to win the Superbowl (or whatever) and two conflicting sets of players vying to be in the team - the same as any other sports film. What makes it special is... its got Al Pacino, and is directed by Oliver Stone. Its like a sports film with more grit.. GGRRRR... and is a very entertaining watch - even though it is that mad game of American Football - don't try to understand it, just be in awe of the dialogue and fantastic directing. Pacinos performance is on par with his best and for the price this is an excellent DVD package - even if a little poor picture wise (its far from perfect but much better than any video about). The sound was GREAT in urround sound with a good mix which I'm sure sounds just as good in Stereo with a good soundtrack. Extras wise there is a commentary track by Stone, another by main cast members and an isolated score track. On the second disc you find music videos - 3 of them, deleted scenes, Stones commentary on those scenes, a trailer and cast/crew bios. The most major grip about the extras disc is where its placed - tucked inside the cardboard flip in the case in a thin white envelope... pull it out and its almost bound to get scratched, AAGGGHHH... Overall, for the price - £15.99 for a 2-disc set its a very good buy and a worthwhile addittion to any collection!
OK, confession time: 1) I know nothing about American Football 2) I wouldn't have looked near this movie had it not been for the fact that it was on special offer in-store! Any Given Sunday (directed by Oliver Stone) tells the story of a fictional American Football team coached by the ageing Tony D'Amato, played here by Al Pacino. As the film starts, we find that this team are struggling badly in the league, and to make matters worse, their star quaterback Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid) get badly injured, ruling him out of much of the season. As a result of this, D'Amato has to bring in rookie player Willie Beaman to step into this living legends shoes. To begin with, Beaman has a few rough games, but then it begins to click, he starts winning touchdowns and becoming the hottest property in sports. So far so good, right - wrong! D'Amato is under increasing pressure from the clubs owner (played by Cameron Diaz) to win and win big. Fame and money starts to go to Beamens head, so much so that he's no longer a team player, shunned and resented by many of his fellow-players his anger bubbles over into a huge confrontation between D'Amato, Beaman and the club owner. Essentially a movie about how theres' always someone newer, fresher, better than you ready to take your place - be it the coach, the players or the owners - we follow the fortunes of this team and the influence that the media start to have on the game itself. The football action itself is well presented, with bone-crunhing sound blasting out of the 5.1 surround track. The music to this movie is also worth a mention, I don't think I've ever heard such an enjoyable music score - crank up the amplifier and enjoy it all! The film may sound like having a long running time at 2 and a half hours, but this goes suprisingly quickly. The disc is well seperted into chapters too, so navigation t
o favourite/last watched moments is easy too. If you don't know anything about American Football then don't worry, I didn't (and still don't) know anything about it myself but this didn't detract from my enjoyment from the film. This DVD comes as a 2-disc set. Due to the long running time of the film we get the main feature on disc one and extra features shown on disc 2. The extras consist of three music videos, a set of deleted scenes with optional commentary from Oliver Stone, a theatrical trailer, a montage of deleted scenes and a cast and crew section. However, my biggest gripe about this package would be the packaging itself! Presented in a Snapper case (like similar Warner releases in the UK) the 'extras' disc is held inside a seperate envelope inside a slip of the packaging - making it very easy to scratch the disc! wake up Warner! The main movie itself also features a commentary track by Oliver Stone, a commentary track by some of the actors in the movie AND an isolated score track - feature packed I'm sure you'll agree. All these features round of a very well put together package and one I would highly recommend anyone to watch.
When this movie first came out last year, I missed it at the cinema, and was disappointed, as I try to see anything with Al Pacino in it, and "Any given Sunday" had received good reviews. I have just watched it on cable TV, and have mixed feelings about it. Al Pacino is great in it, and it's a typically detailed and lengthy movie from Oliver Stone. But, I finished up not really enjoying it that much. It's a movie about American football, and a lot of the footage features stadium action, or backroom talk of tactics. Now it's a game I can't for the life of me understand, but I don't think that's was my problem with the movie - in fact, it's a sport that offers lots of visual potential, and the game scenes are very exciting. There, and Cameron Diaz is reasonably effective as a hardnosed big-business entrepreneur, and there are good, although relatively minor, roles for James Woods and Dennis Quaid. But... all in all, it didn't do a lot for me. What was wrong with Any Given Sunday? * At 150 minutes, it's too long. I think that it would have been possible to make a great movie with about 30 minutes lopped off it. * The soundtrack. To start with, it works well, tracks from people like Gary Glitter, Moby and FatBoy Slim complement the football action. But there are simply too many songs, most of which serve no real purpose - except perhaps to foster the audience's interest in the songs, (and sales) and I'd be very surprised if they are not Warner Brothers artists. (The movie is a Warner Brothers movie). * The fast cutting. To begin with it's great, complements the fast-action on the field, but after a while it gets annoying, with the scenes cutting from this to that and back again. What did I like about Any Given Sunday"? * The characterisation of the players, mostly black, is very good, and you get to understand what it is that dri
ves them (off pitch as well as on). Also, the portrayal of race issues, even within the team, where there are some white guys who make the BNP look like pussycats, is realistic. This kind of conflict is presented as merely something that's there, not a subplot that's there to be resolved by the end of the movie. * Al Pacino's acting is superb. He plays a man who lives for football, and is entirely convincing. * The way it exposes corruption within the corporate sport and media industries. The viewpoint that it's all about money is forcefully put. Ironically, Stone also manages to point the finger at the film industry - as already mentioned, the number of music tracks featured in the movie is beyond a joke. * I liked the movie trickery, such as the split screens, used to show some TV interviews, and also the way that, at one point, the movie itself turns into a pop promo video. Some might think it's gimmicky, but it worked for me. The plot is on the predictable side, but there are some surprises along the way. Many times, the movie whizzes by some quite momentous events, there's very little time spent, for example on the "eye accident" scene. This all reflects what is a very fast-paced sport, I guess. Also, the scene where Cameron Diaz, , goes into the shower room to see 'her' team - the full frontal, naked men are not a real issue... unless of course you view it in terms of gender politics. So, a movie that's well-worth seeing for many reasons, but the things that annoyed me about it, annoyed me a lot - it's not perfect.
Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday is a massive 150-minute American football drama which, for all its ferocity and cynicism, is as soft-centred and clichéd as any Rocky-style underdogs-make-good crowd-pleaser. The Miami Sharks have lost three games in a row and their coach, Al Pacino in an intense performance as the only half-decent major character in the film, faces crisis when untested quarterback Willie Beamen (an excellent Jamie Foxx) becomes an overnight star. Fame goes to Beamen's ego; manager Cameron Diaz ruthlessly wheels-and-deals; and team doctor James Woods sacrifices medical ethics for his career. The Gladiator-esque close-up "shakycam" visuals reflect the player's POV yet make many scenes almost incomprehensible, while the ludicrously fragmented (seven composers, 80 songs) rap-metal-ambient soundtrack obscures much of the dialogue. The world of American football is presented as brutal, nightmarish and corrupting, the players mainly drug-taking, money-grubbing, whoring, foul-mouthed barbarians. So when Stone's last act offers his hollow men as heroes, mythological noble warriors incarnate, the attempted feel-good finale rings seriously false. Stone exposed the rotten heart of the American dream to infinitely greater effect in JFK (1991), is here too much in love with his target for the shots to hit home. --Gary Dalkin On the DVD: The first disc presents the director's cut of Any Given Sunday. The UK cinema cut was nine minutes shorter than the US release. The director's cut starts with the longer US version, removes 11 minutes, adds six, including one of the most shocking and horrifying images seen on screen in some time, then re-edits several other sequences. Stone's commentary ranges far and wide, and he is far more interesting and thought-provoking to listen to than his film is to watch. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 image and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack are both flawless. The second disc is divided into pre-game, half-time and post-game sections, beginning with Jamie Foxx's audition video and screen tests and a routine 27-minute making-of documentary. Halftime consists of two music videos by Jamie Foxx (both anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1) and one by LL Cool J. Post-game offers three sets of outtakes set to music, a stills gallery, a collection of advertising images and 33 minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary from Stone. Completing an exceptional set of extras are DVD-ROM features on scripting and editing, plus reviews, a quiz and the complete original promotional Web site.