Paper Lion Reviews
Alan Alda, early on his career, here plays the incompetent neophyte quarterback in this farcical and unentertaining adaptation of George Plimpton's experience training alongside the 1963 Detroit Lions. Though Plimpton was only allowed to call a few plays in scrimmage, this adaptation in search of a story-worth-telling places Alda in the final moments of a pre-season game with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The film's payoff is seeing Alda give ground and eat turf on 1st and 2nd downs then, while scrambling but unable to find his wide-open receiver, knocking himself out by running head-first into the goal post. Hardee-har-har.
Most people will consider neither that, nor Alda's subsequent resuscitation with smelling salts, to be adequate reward for their 100 minutes of patient viewing.
Lauren Hutton, bouncing up and down on the sidelines in her career debut, isn't very interesting, unless the viewer fancies the novelty of the gap between her front teeth.
The most tasty part of the meal is the occasional close-up look-sees of the vintage Lions doing their thing and the cameos from gridiron greats such as Frank Gifford, Alex Karras, and Vince Lombardi.
Diehard football fans might well be fascinated by the paperback that probes the nature of the players and the game - but it's doubtful the same can be said of this cinematic retelling focused squarely upon Plimpton's self-indulgence.
Ultimately, Plimpton carved a career (of sorts) out of such self-indulgence, dealing out the insider's view of several other sports over several other novels. Truly, the story this film documents is what doors of opportunity will be thrown wide open for a ne'er-do-well - - if he's prepped at Phillips Exeter, graduated Harvard, taken tea with the Kennedys, and done a bit of step-and-fetch work for the CIA.
REcOMMENDATION: At 3rd and 32, Alda should have punted - and you should punt here as well.