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February 8th, 2006:
Based on a 1993 television documentary of the same name, the film presents the story of Sean Porter (The Rock), a juvenile detention center counselor. In a three-week span, Porter put together a football team that was largely made up of troubled youths charged for gang activity and murder. By taking on other “straight” high school teams, Porter hoped to build a sense of social responsibility and true camaraderie between his kids. He hoped to give them something to care for. What started out as a lost cause, turned into an incredible accomplishment as the team overcame their adversities and went on to become the CIF league champions.What to Expect:
When I first heard about this movie, I thought to myself, “Haven't I seen this already? Haven’t I seen this more than just a few times?” With an onslaught of similar titles like Glory Road and Coach Carter coming out lately, Gridiron Gang is yet another addition to the recently popular “underdog” genre, which started with the likes of Rocky and Hoosiers. This may be the most overused film premise, certainly in the past few years. While the storyline lacks originality, the producers may have made an even bigger mistake casting The Rock (The Rundown, Walking Tall, Doom) as Sean Porter. Known to millions as a professional wrestler and an intense, but likeable action star, the Rock was once expected to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hollywood’s top movie hero. I find him difficult to imagine in this role. The original documentary focused on the daily hardships and struggles that Porter experienced while trying to get through to the kids. Being a man of average proportions, he relied primarily on his intelligence to handle the impulsive delinquents. Someone who is 6’4”, over 200 pounds, muscular, a former wrestler, and goes by the name “The Rock,” is not likely to appear shaken by his dilemma. Dealing with a bunch of kids half his size, The Rock will tower over them. His physical presence alone takes away from the credibility of the role he has to play. What's next for him, a part in a drama where he overcomes hardship and somehow manages to make the high-school wrestling team? With rapper Xzibit (xXx: State of the Union, Derailed) as his partner, the two would make an unstoppable action team in another film. In Gridiron Gang, we’ll be forced to ignore their imposing presence. Article continues below
The film is directed by the moderately successful Phil Joanou (State of Grace, Final Analysis, Heaven’s Prisoners), whose work includes some decent, but mostly forgettable pictures. However, I believe that he may actually be a perfect match for this type of material. Phil Joanou directed the highly underrated "Three O'Clock High," in which an insignificant high school geek took on the deadly school bully. It was an odd and humorous take on the genre and ultimately epitomized the idea of underachievers becoming great. It’s possible that with everything else lacking in this movie, Joanou could prevail with an above average job.In Conclusion:
Clearly, this type of role is an attempt by The Rock to be on Hollywood’s good graces. He is easily capable of becoming a superstar and conventional films of this type will lead him there, but his acting muscles still need more flexing. Gridiron Gang will probably fail to generate as much positive reactions as films like Friday Night Lights or Coach Carter, but it’s always a welcomed formula among audiences. So if you like The Rock, and are eager to see him stretch his acting skills, this movie may be for you. For those hoping for an inspiring coming-of-age story, you have an endless selection of better titles to check out.Similar Titles: Hard Ball
, Glory Road
, Coach Carter
September 15th, 2006 (wide)
January 16th, 2007 (DVD)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Xzibit, Six Reasons, Jurnee Smollett
Total: 76 vote(s).
Rated PG-13 for some startling scenes of violence, mature thematic material and language.