Any Given Sunday Reviews
I really thought I was going to like this, considering the talent involved and the fact that American sports tend to be good stock for film material. Sadly not on this occasion.
Al Pacino plays Tony D'Amato, a coach for the fictional Miami Sharks, a team who have hit a real slump in form and are struggling to hold their own on the football pitch. The team has too many Chiefs and not enough Indians and D'Amato not only has to manage the on-field antics of his players but also the off-field antics and spiraling ego's. This is all done with new hard-ass owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) breathing down D'Amato's neck demanding results.
There is such a brash in-your-face kinetic energy to this film that you dont get a minute to relax throughout it. Pacino has several of his usual in-your-face rants, Oliver Stone's direction and dreadful cameo are in-your-face, the sharp and edgy editing is in-your-face. The whole exhibitionist sport is in-your-face. So much so, that it becomes very abusive and quite frankly, tiresome very early on. Added to this, the film goes on for at least an hour over its recommended running time, bombarding us with some very high testosterone and machismo. The only positives rest with the impressive use of close contact football scenes, complete with disorientation and crunching tackles and the fine cast, particulary Cameron Diaz who shows she can match the rants and aggression of Pacino, who's one of the best in the business. It's just disappointing that the film couldn't supply the great ensemble with some material to work with.
On Any Given Sunday, I'd avoid this stinker.
I watched this on a Sunday, on the eve of the Superbowl. I'm not a big fan of American football, mainly watched this because of the cast and Oliver Stone. Wish I wouldn't had.
"Any Given Sunday" is just another basic sports movie, only worse. All of the clichés are here; an injured legend of the game, a young player who thinks his the next big thing in the league, machobullshit player stuff etc.
For example all the women in the movie are portrayed as cheap bitches who are only after the money. The players have similar interests. Stone got me confused by adding stills and short clips of old games and legendary players. I don't know if he meant it like the game hasn't changed and its all about winning the last game.
Like in the quote that I put in the beginning, the editing made me feel exactly like that. One of the worst edited films I've ever seen. Short takes with a shaky camera. Just awful. The images are supported with one of the worst soundtracks ever made.
"On any given Sunday you're gonna win or you're gonna lose."
Well, I definitely lost. I still have fond memories of Stone. Just wish that I can forget this cliché filled movie.
Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino), the head coach of the Miami Sharks, won back-to-back championships four years ago. But new team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) has little enthusiasm for the finer points of the game and is concerned only with the bottom line. The longtime strongman of Tony's team has been "Cap" Rooney (Dennis Quaid), a 39-year-old quarterback, but Christina balks at renewing his contract. When Cap is injured during a game, third-string rookie quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) goes on in his place and becomes a major star. But Beamen is mostly interested in fame and money, and he has little regard for Tony and his teammates.
Despite some great game footage, overacting by everyone from Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz to Oliver Stone himself as a sportscaster render this look at pro football trite and irrelevant.
An added disappointment is the lack of attention to details that lends a sense of authenticity to most of Oliver Stone's films. When is the last time anyone has seen a pro football coach wearing black blazers on the sideline? Moreover, character development happens because the screenwriter thought it would be cool, not because it was evolved from the story. For example, Jamie Foxx's Willie Beamen goes from a confused humble kid to trash talking homeboy in a matter of minutes.
All in all, Any Given Sunday is a must to avoid. If you want a great inside look at pro football, rent North Dallas Forty instead.
Treating the writing in such a way may prove that even the director didn't know what he was trying to do (or that maybe he was just trying to make an overly dramatized but still cliched sports movie), and it makes me wonder tangentially why these movies that can be said to have "something for everyone" in them are so highly praised. This one flip-flops from one direction to the other, and all in all it's a tough one to stick with. Every time you want to turn it off something just a little bit too interesting happens. It just barely passes, and a great performance by Pacino (one of his last before becoming essentially a cartoon character) goes to waste. Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz are both underwhelming, and though the former was on his way up, the latter was already declining... but hey, there is that famous Pacino pre-game speech!
John McGinley (Dr. Cox from Scrubs), Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking), Jim Brown (who I always confuse with Vinnie Rhymes) and Matthew Modine also had little roles in this film.
Even though this was an all star cast, I.. dont really see myself watching this again, unless its on HBO or something, but Ill definitely be hunting down the songs on the soundtrack!
Its a movie that you have to atleast watch once. A few of Al Pacinos speeches were good. Cameron Diaz, mmm I think she did a pretty good job, its just that.. the ending confused me a bit, but then again Im not a sports nut.. so I wont really bother in completely understanding that little scene at the ending.
[font=Arial][color=darkred]'Sunday's biggest stumbling block may actually be its focal point - there's too much damn football! The games last as long as actual games and there are multiple games through out. Though Stone captures the essence nicely that these spandex-clad athletes are the gladiators of today playing in a ballet of chaos, he just throws too many jangled cuts, quick shots, and extreme angles flashing around to hyperdecibled soundtrack fodder. After a while the viewer becomes dizzied by the rush of noise and flash of lights buzzing around their precious skull. It's enough to cause a concusion simply from watching.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Most of the action in 'Any Given Sunday' actually happens off the field with some meaty drama delivered by multiple players. Stone focuses in on the people behind the catches and blocks and how the game can control or transform their lives. Finally a drawn-out story that covers football with respect. Diaz and Pachino get into screaming matches for roughly most of the movie, but it's exciting to see two great actors throw the acting medicine ball back and forth trying to out-duel the one before. The supporting characters all have stories suitable to the game and interesting enough to warrant attention. Jaime Foxx has a nonchalant magnetism that keeps the audience pulling for him - even after he vomits for the third time on camera.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Stone lets the viewer into the game of football in a manner truthful yet exaggerated. But with all the whiz-bang he throws out in 'Any Given Sunday' one can't help but have wished for more constraint in the excess and more minutes for the drama in between.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B-[/color][/font]
Again, this film isn't as lengthy as "JFK", and lord knows it holds the potential to be more eventful, yet in execution, this film sometimes forces its runtime of two-and-a-half hour, or in the case of the... theatrical cut (Huh, I'm so used to saying director's cut or something), 160-something minutes, through excessive repetition and even some expendable material, and after a while, the film slows to a crawl and it becomes hard to pay attention, and this film isn't even mildly boring. However, within the film's not being boring surprisingly lays not just any other flaw, but one of the absolute biggest flaws, and one that can be found in just about every Oliver Stone film: overstylizing, which certainly wouldn't fit this film if it was at a minimum, let alone at near-maximum prevalence. Now, this film still isn't quite "Natural Born Killers" overstylized (I don't know what is), yet it surprisingly stands as one of Oliver Stone's most overstylized films, not necessarily throwing crazy imagery at you relentlessly, but going tainted by overemphasized cinematography, as well as wildly frenetic overediting that really does help in knocking you out of the film a bit, particularly during the dialogue pieces, which are made more overwhemling by sound design that is also wildly overstylized, to the point of occasionally rendering dialogue borderline incomprehensible, or at least until someone nearly throws his or her voice out shouting, or in other words, during every second or third dialogue piece. Still, the film's bluntness doesn't just end with the noisiness, because just when you thought that Oliver Stone couldn't get any more unsubtle with his critiques, he finds himself presented with a topic that's a bit hard to deconstruct, as made obvious by Stone's palpable stretching to make such a deconstruction. The film "tackles" (Football pun intended) the flaws of the American sports industry and overall culture, and Oliver Stone isn't about to let you forget that, blatantly hucking his messages at you with restless intensity that is often passable, sometimes overbearing and consistently present, thus diluting the film's substance, which in turns actually dilutes the messages that the film tries so hard press on you. The film is bloated, overstylized, noisy and unsubtle, same as any given Oliver Stone film (See what I did there?), yet those flaws are even more intense here, and for goodness sakes, this is a blasted football film, so on top of often being too much, the lengthiness, stylizing and blatantness doesn't really fit, thus making for a film that's all over the place, but eventually comes back to simply not striking as deeply as it should. However, with all of my problems with Oliver Stone - of which, there are many -, through all of his filmmaking faults... and being just so blasted left wing, he's still a considerably talented director, and further proves that with a film that ultimately transcends its many faults to stand as a really worthwhile watch, or if nothing else, mostly enjoyably stylish effort.
Before Ron Howard enslaved him, cinematographer Salvatore Tatino caught his big break shooting for this film, and doing a pretty fine job of it, for although Stone is overemphatic about Tatino's contributions to the point of occasionally rendering the film more style than substance, the photography on this film boasts that good old fashion Oliver Stone handsome haziness that's not terribly stellar, but catches your eye and breathes life into this film, much like most every other piece of style within this film. Again, the film is excessively overstylized, yet more often than not, the style really does amplify the engagement value of the film, with most great frenetic editing (Even if a couple of pieces of dialogue cut unevenly) giving the film a lot of flashiness and intense sound design giving the film a lot of pump, and when that style comes into play on the field, the result is some top-notch football sequences, which isn't to say that all of this style keeps the film from dulling out when our players take a break from bashing into each other. Again, the film is overwhelmingly lengthy and overstylized at points, yet make no mistake, this film is among the handful of wildly entertaining sports films, with consistent flare and even a soundtrack that's pretty hit-or-miss (The many then-contemporary mainstream '90s songs and "original" rap songs are, of course, terrible), but really hits hard when it does hit, really sparking a lot of fun energy in the film, sometimes too much so, but generally to where you'd be hard pressed to not want to stick with the film, as it is so rewarding as, if nothing else, pure entertainment. Still, that's not the only thing that Oliver Stone delivers on, because although he is such a messy filmmaker, especially here, when he hits, he cuts deep, and sure enough, there are quite a few potently well-directed moments in this film, as Stone will sometimes pull back to deliver on a degree of provocative messaging, as well as a few poignant moments of depth that really do bring this story to life. Sure, as much as I complain about sports films, plenty of them do have strong stories, and this film has a really strong one that is generally betrayed by the shortcomings of the execution, yet is generally played up pretty sharply, with plenty of style and some depth that will occasionally border on epic, and for that, credit has to go out to Oliver Stone for his extremely flawed, yet ultimately rewarding and inspired direction, as well as to the talents within this star-studded cast, or at least most of them. I would consider Cameron Diaz a fair actress, as well as not even terrible in this film, though she still turns in a certainly improvable performance with limited notes and moments of overacting, yet I still stand by statement that it is not a terrible performance, as Diaz, well, doesn't really slip up too much, and also wears a certain charisma, though one that is easily overpowered by every other talent in this mammoth star cast, with such cast members as Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Jim Brown, John C. McGinley and even a cameoing (Is that even a word?), show-stealing Charlton Heston delivering on colorful charm, made all the sweeter by fine chemistry that sells you on our characters and their relationships, making each and every one of them, to a fair extent, reasonably compelling. Now, with all of my praising, the film is much too faulty to keep consistent as enjoyable, yet the fact of the matter is that the film does still have plenty to praise, and that's enough for it to keep you going and enjoying yourself through thick and then, and at the end of the day, that leaves this film to, like the football players it studies, to go long... or far, or the distance, or whatever it is they say in football.
At the end of the sunday, or whatever day of the week you watch this, a promising project goes tainted by common Oliver Stone faults at pretty high intensity, whether it be the overlong runtime, or overstylzing, or noisiness, or simply the profound lack of subtlety that leaves the film's messages to bear down and intensify the overall overbearingness of the film, until by the end, it fails to make the touchdown it should have, yet in spite of that, this film still scores pretty big, boasting fine style - often overblown though, it may be - and livliness to spark consistent and wild entertainment value, while Oliver Stone establishes many a high, if not golden moment of effectiveness, really sold by the massive collection of charismatic performances within the star-studded cast, held together by razor-sharp chemistry, thus leaving "Any Given Sunday" to play an imperfect game, yet one that's still lively, generally interesting and ultimately rewarding enough to really win you over through thick and then.
3/5 - Good
Any Given Sunday is well acted, and insightful of its handling of the financial and social issues facing the sporting arena. The full frontal male nudity, while in the locker room, caught me off guard but the solid performances all around in a stellar cast makes this well worth watching even if you are not a huge sports fan.