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Remember the Titans Review

-by Andrew Goletz

Note to the Academy: Remember the Titans come Oscar time!

Remember the Titans was actually a movie I wasn't too interested in seeing. After the recent string of football movies: Varsity Blues (my personal favorite), Any Given Sunday,  and The Replacements I was worried that this genre was going to be exploited more than the teen horror films of late. I'm happy to say that this is one of the best of the bunch.

Remember the Titans takes place 20 yrs in Virginia. It's a racially charged time and a racially charged location. Denzel Washington plays couch Herman Boone, who's the 'token' minority assigned to take over the Titans football program to appease the civil rights movement. The schools are being integrated. The times are changing and the status quo isn't happy about it. Coach Boone is taking the job from Coach Yoast, played by the always wonderful Will Patton. Coach Yoast is no slouch, either. He's had a string of winning seasons and is on the ballot to enter the Hall of Fame. The apparent promotion/demotion does nothing to ease the tension filled town who are already skeptical of integration in general.

Titans doesn't pull any punches when it comes to dealing with the racial overtones of the story and that's a welcome relief. There are no easy answers here. Does Boone deserve the job he's been given? Yes. He comes with a great track record of coaching. Does Coach Yoast deserve to be removed? No. He's a legend in the town, a successful coach in his own right and a good man. So what to do? Rather than pull back away from the issue completely or have the actors indulge in over-acted monologues, the director chooses to confront the issues head on.

Coach Yoast’s former players (all white) resent Boone taking over the team and resent having to share the field, their team, their lives with the black players. It's not going to be easy to pull this team together. Boone’s strategy is similar to that of a drill instructor. There's an incident early on in the film where the two busses bound for football camp are divided with the white players on one bus and the black players on the other. Denzel's character forces the team to separate by position: Defensive or Offensive, not by color. Throughout camp the coach has the difficult task of trying to have his players learn to respect one another while coming together as a football team. Matters are made more difficult when it's discovered that the powers that be have given Boone the job only to stop the outcry from civil rights groups and will fire him as soon as he loses a game. Boone solution to this is to try and not lose any games.

It's an ensemble movie made up of new faces with the exception of Washington and Patton and its fascinating to watch them flesh out their characters throughout the film. People don't have dramatic changes of heart because they need to kiss and make up within 2 hrs, but there is growth, and there are as many friendships made as there are betrayals.

The action on the football field is well choreographed and hard hitting, but when it comes down to it, the movie is a about a lot more than football, it's about ignorance, and tolerance and learning to overcome stereotypes. The astonishing thing was that this takes place in our generation and we really haven't learned that much, have we.

Great acting, good action, and a fine message = a brilliant movie and the first football movie with heart since Rudy.


Rating: 4 Griffons (out of 4)

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