My All American Blu-ray Review

        Angelo Pizzo has made a career out of writing screenplays based on true life inspirational sports stories, and in the past they have all been directed by his former fraternity brother from his undergraduate days at Indiana University. But whether it is the fault of a diminishing ability to write an inspirational screenplay or his shortcomings as a first time director, My All American comes nowhere near the level of Hoosiers, Rudy, or even The Game of Their Lives. Considering it has been 10 years since his last screenplay made it to the screen, I’m afraid Pizzo may have returned to the well one time too many, with this latest endeavor feeling like a bad copy of his past successes.


        Even the choice of subject often feels derivative of Rudy, focusing on an underdog deemed too small to play football. This is not fair to the actual Freddie Steinmark, a real person who has been reduced a bundle of sports film clichés and shoehorned faith-based messages. Played by Finn Wittrock, Freddie Steinmark’s career in football is shown from childhood through his college days coached by Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) in Texas. The entire narrative is told by Royal in a pathetically amateur bookend sequence where he is being interviewed about his career late in his life, complete with Eckhart wearing distractingly bad old age make-up. Not only are the technical elements of this scene frustratingly inadequate and the acting by the interviewer among the worst in the film, but the entire logic of the sequence is flawed. How can the coach from Steinmark’s college career in Texas be the narrator to the first third of his story taking place in Colorado?


        There are many of these dumbfounding moments of faulty film logic within My All American, showing Pizzo’s inexperience as a director and failure as the screenwriter in one fell swoop. This isn’t to say that there is nothing good about My All American, but most of the successful elements either feel borrowed from better films or simply overwhelmed by the elements which don’t work. It doesn’t help that many moments of Christian ideology seem forced into the narrative. While I have no problem with issues of religion and faith in film, here it only adds more distraction to an already unfocused screenplay.


        On top of his motivated climb through the ranks in the world of unprofessional football, My All American gives us a picture-perfect romance with his high school sweetheart (Sarah Bolger), not to mention a flawless relationship with his parents (Michael Reilly Burke, Robin Tunney). While it is at first refreshing (if not a bit hokey) to see a biopic where the character doesn’t have to overcome some dark past, it only foreshadows the difficulties that lie in Steinmark’s future. With all of the events and characters off of the field, it is surprising that the film has time to show much of his actual football career.


        The Blu-ray release of My All American comes with a DVD and Digital HD copy of the film. There are also two special features in the form of generic featurettes. One is about the real-life inspiration for the movie, while the other is just promotional behind-the-scenes look at the movie. Neither have much more depth than the film itself.


Entertainment Value: 5.5/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10

Historical Significance:  2/10

Special Features: 3/10

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