Any Given Sunday
**.5 GM
Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Ladies Love Cool James, Jamie Foxx, Matthew Modine, James Woods, Dennis Quaid, Jim Brown, Bill Bellamy, Lawrence Taylor


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Oliver Stone's distinctive cinematography and stylized editing really works well for movies like Nixon, JFK, Natural Born Killers, etc. - movies with vital importance and relevance to society and the way it behaves. But when applied to a subject as relatively unimportant as football, it loses a good amount of its punch. Don't get me wrong - football is fun, hard-hitting and interesting to me... but I can't say it has the same urgency that, say, the assassination of the president does.

Tony (Al Pacino) is the coach. Christina (Cameron Diaz) is the young upstart owner puts money over respect for the game. Cap (Dennis Quaid) is the legendary quarterback who gets injured, Cindy (Lauren Holly) is Cap's wife who won't let him quit, Willie (Jamie Foxx) is the hip new self-absobed QB that replaces Cap when he goes down, J-Man (Ladies Love Cool James) is the star running back who selfishly wants to make a lot of money, Shark (Lawrence Taylor) is the star linebacker with a serious injury, Jimmy Sanderson (Bill Bellamy) is a wide receiver that we don't even notice until the end, when he's suddenly supposed to be a character we care about, Montezuma Munroe (Jim Brown) is Tony's assistant coach, Dr. Oliver Powers (Matthew Modine) is the idealistic assistant to the cynical Dr. Harvey Mandrake (James Woods), who has no problem with overprescribing pills and medication to the players to keep them playing.

There are more characters, but since I don't remember hearing half of these guys' names in the film, you can imagine what little development any of them really get.

This film marks the historic reteaming of James Woods and LL Cool J, who worked together in the powerful film "The Hard Way," also starring Michael J. Fox. Unfortunately, the two don't have a scene together in this film, so their electric chemistry couldn't be reignited, and the film suffers for that.

Be that as it may, and I'm not sure that it was, the theme is basically "football should not be about money," whether it's the owners demands that the coach alter his methods to achieve it, or if the players are playing solely for a bigger payday. But it's also got a lot of nifty football action and some entertaining performances - a particular surprise being Lawrence Taylor, New York Football Giants legend. Maybe it's because he's reliving his own life, but he seems really natural and at ease in the role.

There's also the problem that is generally a constant in sports movies - the team always has to win in the end. There's generally a lack of suspense in a movie like this - the only thing you don't know is just HOW they're going to win. You can't make a sports movie where they don't win in the end. Except maybe "Rocky," which is probably why that movie won Oscars - it figured out how to make a good sports movie WITHOUT that cliche. Oliver Stone didn't... but the movie's still decent, despite being nearly three hours long.

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