Any Given Sunday
A coach who believes in the value of experience, but battling to preserve his values. A star player who is on the verge of losing his place due to injury.
A ruthless young manager, who believes in survival of the fittest, and wants to promote her protégé.
A young and dazzling talent, who believes he is a law unto himself.
A ruthless professional league where reputations are made and destroyed on the weekend.
To all of us following the recent sporting controversies all over the world, most of it seems very familiar. Any Given Sunday is Oliver Stone’s 1999 take on the ruthless, dog eat dog world of American professional football.
The title is taken from the blurb “ Any Given Sunday, a legend will fall, and a hero will rise”.The movie centers on the rivalry between two fictional teams the Miami Sharks and Dallas Knights, two fictitious American football teams located in Miami and Dallas. Tony D’ Amato( Al Pacino) , is the coach of the Miami Sharks. He is a typical old school coach, who believes that the players must be under his control, and values experience more over youth. His tough as a nails attitude, is reflected in his views which say
On any given Sunday you’re gonna win or you’re gonna lose. The point is – can you win or lose like a man?
At the same time his unhappy personal life is reflected in this where he says
Now I can’t do it for ya, I’m too old.
I look around, I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make.
I’ve pissed away all my money, believe it or not.
I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me.
And lately, I cant even stand the face I see in the mirror.
When their star quarterback Capt Rooney( Dennis Quaid), is injured in a match, and has to be replaced, Tony has to bring in the talented but highly reckless third stringer Willie Beamen( Jamie Foxx). Beamen makes an impact in the game and becomes the star for Miami Sharks. Energetic, restless and popular, he is also highly egoistic. Beamen believes he is a law unto himself and deliberately stars to ignore Tony’s calls and makes his own calls. He believes in winning only as he saysI’m trying to win coach. I ain’t trying to disrespect nobody, but winning is the only thing I respect.
Obviously Willie and Tony are constantly at loggerheads. Willie meanwhile starts a singing career and goes on a wild partying binge, not to the liking of Tony.Tony also has to face a running battle with the new owner of the team Christiana Pagniaci( Cameron Diaz), whose attempts to modernize the team which irks Tony to no end. Tony believes that the coach is paramount, and no attempt should be made to interfere with his functioning. Tony also has a running battle with Christiana over Rooney, while Christiana feels Rooney doesn’t have any value to the team and he has aged, Tony does not believe in just dropping him from the team.
LL Cool J, is Julian Washington , the running back for the Sharks, and he is increasingly upset by Beamen’s cocky attitude. Real life football player, Lawrence Taylor, plays the role of Luther ‘Shark’ Lavay , the defense captain.Other crucial characters are Dr. Harvey Mandrake(James Woods), the team physician, a crooked doctor, who deliberately hides the injuries, and certifies players as fit. Any Given Sunday is about American football, but it could be well about any sport in the world.
The clash between a tradition minded coach and a manager believing in modern values. The talented young player who however is totally reckless.
A sports reporter who constantly debunks Tony D’ Amato. Doctors indulging in shady practices.
As also the sleazy side of American football, the drug use, the partying, the sex and the gambling.
The confrontation scenes between Tony D Amato and Pagnaci, as well as between D Amato and Beamen are superbly picturized.As also the scene where Tony reassures Rooney that he would always support him on the hospital bed.The football games are well picturized too, as also the scenes where Tony and Beamen understand each others view points.
On the flip side, the movie is let down by an inconsistent script. For a movie which tries to look at the seamy side of American football, the Hollywood style feel good ending jars a lot.
Any Given Sunday is also helped by some fine ensemble performances.
Cameron Diaz is first rate as the bitchy, ruthless manager of team. She shines in her scenes with Al Pacino.
Jamie Foxx is excellent as the brash, reckless but talented youngster.
But above all just watch the movie for Al Pacino, in one of his finest performances. As an ageing coach who has a steadfast belief in his values, and as a brooding person, whose personal life is in a mess, Pacino shows you why he is considered as one of the best actors. If for nothing the movie is worth a look just for Pacino.