American Underdog doesn’t do proper by Anna Paquin. I do know, I do know. “A faith-based movie a couple of soccer participant doesn’t make area for the lead girl within the solid? Shocker!” And maybe that’s truthful. Nonetheless, Underdog takes a couple of steps additional than the everyday Erwin Brothers’ fare.
Brenda (Paquin), Kurt Warner’s (Zachary Levi) eventual spouse, discusses her religion with Kurt early of their relationship. She describes an encounter with an older girl who informed Brenda that God had a plan for her to do nice issues. For particular forms of Christians this may be, certainly, a robust and shifting encounter. One can definitely perceive why it made such an impression on Brenda.
Nonetheless, within the context of the movie, the implication turns into Brenda’s “nice” factor is marrying future Tremendous Bowl MVP St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner. It isn’t simply that the movie provides her a small function. I get that; it’s Warner’s film particularly, in any case. It isn’t that they don’t give their greatest performer sufficient to do—though she is, and so they don’t. It’s that they take what most be a treasured facet of her religion journey and find yourself implying that her true greatness is sitting within the stands. It, to talk bluntly, is an amazing bummer.
Additionally it is, oddly sufficient, one of many few explicitly faith-related setpieces of the movie. It’s as if the Erwins have gotten so good at smuggling Christian messaging into pretty mainstream-looking films, they type of forgot to do it right here. Many of the cause we all know it is a faith-oriented movie is the Erwin Brothers’ filmography, that Warner’s Christianity is a fairly well-known facet of the person, and so they love a shot of sunbeams. Should you someway had no thought about any of that, you possibly can conceivably watch this whole movie being none the wiser.
To be clear, although, this doesn’t make Underdog good.
Warner is undoubtedly a superb subject for a biopic. His story is fascinating. The one undrafted MVP in historical past. The one undrafted Tremendous Bowl MVP in historical past. Going from a third-stringer to a 47 million greenback seven-year deal three years later on the age of 29. A really publicly trustworthy man who has claimed that God healed his concussion in 2000. A very good mum or dad who shortly adopted his stepchildren after he married Brenda. One of many earliest white gamers to precise public assist for these kneeling throughout the Nationwide Anthem. Nice movie fodder.
Sadly, Underdog takes all that fascinating materials and flattens it. We hear about his wrestle from Levi, doing a nice sufficient job, however the film not often provides us time to really feel it. If something, Paquin will get the larger emotional setpieces, together with one regarding her dad and mom’ tragic deaths. Kurt will get the screentime, however we get no specific perception into his wrestle or journey.
The filmmaking is satisfactory. Unusually the film solely actually involves visible life throughout Warner’s transient time in enviornment soccer. Shot with fast edits, closeups, loud music, smoke, and topped with a commissioner, Jim Foster (Bruce McGill), who loves flashing money, it’s simply probably the most enjoyable Underdog ever feels. Really, on reflection, the Erwin Brothers could be suggesting a type of Hell with the staging, which makes it extra non secular than I stated above AND might counsel one thing about me that I’d quite not unpack.
Nonetheless, general, from the filmmaking to the script, Underdog has one overwhelming feeling: enjoying it secure. It takes no huge swings—no shock that Warner’s stand on kneeling doesn’t find yourself in right here—and even the swings it takes, they fail to take a position with pathos.
I’m all for faith-based movies that inform tales quite than merely preach for 90 minutes. Give me an Underdog over a Fireproof day by day of the week. Nonetheless, I do know there exists a technique to inform tales of religion that aren’t simply sermons AND have a spark to them, a way of life. This will mark a step in the appropriate route for the Erwin Brothers, however it nonetheless seems like miles to go earlier than they sleep.