*1/2 (out of 5)
August 25, 2006
Mark Wahlberg as VINCE PAPALE
Greg Kinnear as DICK VERMEIL
Elizabeth Banks as JANET
Kevin Conway as FRANK PAPALE
Michael Rispoli as MAX
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by: Ericson Core
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
When “Invincible” first started to play in the theatre, I thought it was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time. To me, that wasn’t a good sign.
This may sound confusing, but I have a point. You see, when the second unit photography over the opening credits looks that good, it means only one of two things for the film – it will either be awesome, or it will stink.
And “Invincible” stunk.
“Invincible” is another film in a long line of Walt Disney live action features about inspiring true stories in sports. Most recently, we saw “Glory Road” in which Josh Lucas headline the historic West Texas Miners story of their struggles against racial inequality. While this was a decent film, it never quite lived up to “Remember the Titans” because Josh Lucas is no Denzel Washington.
Unfortunately for “Invincible,” it never lived up to its own opening titles.
The story follows the mid-life of Vince Papale, a part-time bartender and substitute teacher, who tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles at age 30. To everyone’s surprise (except perhaps that of the audience in the theater), he makes the team. However, he faces hazing from the other players who paid their dues in college ball, and he’s also saddled with one of the worst teams in the NFL at the time – the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles.
However, through his spirit, the support of his friend and the hype from the city of brotherly love, he manages to persevere. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Yes, part of my dislike for this film comes from me being tired of watching the obligatory sports movie. It’s probably one of the most unchanged formula out there. But that’s not really the biggest problem.
The biggest problem with “Invincible” is that it’s boring. It drags and drags and drags. We all know that Papale makes the team, so why do we have to wait 30 minutes before the try-outs. And why does it take the same amount of time for him to play a game.
I don’t have any problem with Papale’s story. It’s actually pretty inspirational when you hear about it. It just doesn’t make a good movie. This is because Papale wasn’t a rally point for the team. He wasn’t an amazing coach, like the ones featured in “Miracle” or the aforementioned “Remember the Titans.” He was on special teams, which has only limited impact on the game itself.
To help pad out the film, which could be condensed into an hour-long documentary, there’s reels and reels of footage of Papale dealing with his out-of-work friends, his non-existent love interest and his crotchety father. I understand the need for characterization, but remarkably found myself longing for some football moments.
The acting is decent, except for the fact that the relatively short Mark Wahlberg is a little hard to swallow as a professional ball player. And, with his abhorrent 70s fashion and messy hairstyle, I kept flashing back to his other disco-era flick “Boogie Nights.”
Yes, “Invincible” pushes all the right buttons, and a person not so tired with the genre may enjoy it. However, I couldn’t get out of the theatre fast enough.