Any Given Sunday
CAST: Al Pacino, Cameron
Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx
DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone
Al Pacino plays Tony D'Amato, the head coach
of the Miami Sharks. The once-great football team is now
being managed by the late founder's daughter: Christina
Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz). She wants the team to modernize
and emphasize passing, regardless of the venerable
coach's opinion. The starting quarterback, Jack
"Cap" Rooney (Dennis Quaid) is injured after
losing three straight games. The second-stringer goes
down right after him, so Tony sends out the new
third-stringer: Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx).
Beaman couldn't pull that win, but starts picking up and
wins the next few games, keeping the playoff hopes alive
and giving Cap a chance to come back for the postseason.
Christina loves the seat-of-the-pants style that Beaman
has, but Tony is frustrated by his lack of discipline and
respect for his coaching. Beaman might not be executing
the called plays, but he is winning and filling the
stadium with new fans.
Oliver Stone's most notable films are his
"Vietnam Trilogy": Platoon, Born on the Fourth
of July, and Heaven & Earth. So it should seem
fitting that his first sports movie is about the most
martial of games: football.
Stone obviously has a great zeal
for the game. He has cast several football legends in
small parts, including Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Dick
Butkus, and Lawrence Taylor. The problem is that he has
tried to fit too much into one film. It seems that since
Natural Born Killers, Stone has been more concerned with
amusing himself than trying to make films that are
actually enjoyable to anybody else. Any Given Sunday
isn't quite as indulgent or absurd as his other recent
films, but it still does not measure up to his earlier
What I can't decide is whether this film is meciocre in
spite of its great cast or because of it. In JFK, he made
an all-star ensemble work, but here it's just jumbled.
The screenplay (written by Stone and John Logan) was
based on two books: On Any Given Sunday, a novel by Pat
Toomay, and a memoir by Rob Huizenga titled "You're
Okay, It's Just a Bruise": A Doctor's Sideline
Secrets About Pro Football's Most Outrageous Team, about
his time with the Raiders. It's quite apparent that there
wasn't a strong center between those stories.
One can easily see from this film that
Stone still has an exceptional talent for direction.
Perhaps this is his transitional work, between the
bizarre and whatever is coming next. Either he'll go
the way of the studio or join the new crop of
exciting filmmakers that were so influenced by his
early work. Let's hope he finds the correct path.
Matt Heffernan of Filmhead.com