Marshall Movie More Than Worth The Price

By Adam Caparell - December 08, 2006

Sometimes you leave a movie theater feeling high. Sometimes you leave a move theater feeling low. And sometimes you leave it emotionally drained, but smiling as you make your way to the exit. That was the case for me Thursday evening after I had the chance to catch a special screening of Warner Bros. new release, “We Are Marshall,” in Midtown Manhattan.

The entirely true story surrounds the aftermath of the Marshall University football team’s plane crash 36 years ago that killed nearly the entire football team and coaching staff Nov. 14 on their way home from a game.

While the story is wrapped around the rebuilding of the football program from practically nothing, one thing people should realize is this isn’t a football movie. Rather it’s a movie with football as a background as the town of Huntington, W.Va. comes to gripes with the tragedy and attempts to move on as a new team is fielded for the 1971 season.

It’s a movie filled with all kinds of emotion. It’ll leave a lump in your throat, tug at your heart, make you laugh and appreciate life, all in a shade over two hours. Not that I’m any movie critic or buff – for all intents and purposes this is my first movie review – but when I get lost in a movie and don’t over analyze the acting performances or question the authenticity of things too much, then it’s a pretty good one in my mind. I pretty much got lost in it yesterday.

There’s no Oscar worthy performances in this one, but I thought overall the acting was well done. Although I wonder if Jim Lengyel, the Marshall coach played by Matthew McConaughey, was, and still is, as eccentric and animated in real life as McConaughey portrayed him. But watching the end credits that were interspersed with real photos and video from the 1971 season it looked like McConaughey played a pretty good Lengyel. I thought Matthew Fox did a nice job portraying a conflicted Red Dawson, the lone assistant coach who did not die in the crash because he went off on a recruiting visit instead of flying back with the team.

The players looked the part on the football field and Anthony Mackie, who played Nate Ruffin, one of only three players from the 1970 team to play on the 1971 team, did a very nice job in his portrayal.

The football scenes were well produced and I had only a few gripes about authenticity. But when you’re filming a movie in the year 2006 that’s supposed to take place in the 1970s, you are invariably going to run into a few sparse issues here and there, but there was nothing gross or negligent on the producers part in the movie.

I found my heart beating faster in a number of scenes and the assembled crowd in the theater even cheered and clapped at a few points. The movie really grabbed at people and there clearly looked as if there were more than a few non-football fans, including my guest for the screening - my movie-loving friend, Kathleen - who said she enjoyed the film, as well. And you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows less about college football than her.

“We Are Marshall” will be out in theaters Dec. 22. Football fan or not, if you’ve got any kind of heart you’ll find this an entertaining and moving film.

Regular Season Predictions: A Look Back

Champion: Miami
Division Winners: Atlantic - Miami | Coastal - Florida State

Retrospect: Could not have been more wrong about this conference.

Big East
Champion: Louisville

Retrospect: It was Rutgers' for the taking, but the Cardinals' in the end.

Big Ten
Champion: Ohio State

Restrospect: Right on.

Big 12
Champion: Texas
Division Winners: North - Nebraska | South - Texas

Retrospect: Got one of the division winners right.

Conference USA
Champion: UCF
Division Winners: East - UCF | West - Tulsa

Retrospect: Dead wrong.

Champion: Northern Illinois
Division Winners: East - Akron | West - Northern Illinois

Retrospect: Ditto.

Champion: TCU

Retrospect: TCU should have won this league, they had the talent to do it. Didn’t see BYU having the kind of season it had.

Champion: USC

Retrospect: The Trojans aren’t going to lose the conference as long as Pete Carroll is there.

Champion: Auburn
Division Winners: East - Georgia | West - Auburn

Retrospect: Two disappointing teams. Both had the defenses early on to carry them to the SEC title game, but couldn’t sustain the early success.

Sun Belt
Champion: La.-Lafayette

Retrospect: Didn’t see one game played by a Sun Belt team, but I'm aware Troy was the league winner.

Champion: Nevada

Retrospect: Thought I’d be ahead of the game and pick over Boise. Lesson learned. Don’t under estimate the Broncos in the WAC.

BCS Matchups

Fiesta: Texas vs. TCU
Sugar: LSU vs. Louisville
Orange: Miami vs. Notre Dame
Rose: Ohio State vs. West Virginia

BCS Title Game: Auburn vs. USC

Retrospect: One out of 10… That’s just awful.

Heisman Winner

1. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
4. Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
5. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State

Retrospect: Well, 2-for-5 is better than my 1-for-10 BCS showing.

Last Week: 3-2
Season Record: 50-21

Final Retrospect: Bigger and better next year.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 03:34 PM on December 08, 2006

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