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We Are Marshall

Published December 21, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Warner Bros.
We Are Marshall Poster We Are Marshall
I must be a real cold, heartless shell of a man if I can hate on a movie about honoring dead athletes. I mean, I definitely felt my heart sink at the thought of all those lost lives, but two hours later I still knew what was going to happen and wanted it to happen more quickly so I could get home.

Review: We Are Marshall

In 1970, the Marshall University football team lost nearly all of its players, coaches and some fans in a plane crash. The remaining students rally the town to continue the football program, so new coach Jake Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) comes in to start recruiting.

For a movie about death, dying and grief, the scenes of tragedy are handled with class. They really could have milked it and they showed restraint in cutting the crash, and focusing on the survivors when they approach the wreckage. Throughout the film, the town's grief is obvious, but nobody wallows.

There is one scene that seems to exist only to show someone crying. Cheerleader Annie Cantrell (Kate Mara) returns her engagement ring to her fiance's father to keep it in his family, but he tells her to keep it because he has no more family. And Matthew Fox breaks down after the triumphant ending, but we'll give them those two. After all, it is really sad.

There's a good sense of humor to most of the film. Lengyel is clearly in out of his depth as he bombs a press conference and turns to other sports to find his new players.

There are plenty of montages, including recruitment, training and game time. We Are Marshall doesn't forget it's a sports movie and goes through all the motions in that department. It's rousing where it needs to be, even if it is familiar.

The only point that gets saccharine is the final play, as if one pass summarizes all the emotion we've just witnessed for two hours. That's really laying it on thick, but it's just a stylistic choice and the story is the story.

We Are Marshall is perfectly good filmmaking. If, like me, you feel you've seen one too many inspirational sports movies, you probably won't get through it. Even with the triumphant ending, it's still a lot of tragedy to get over in life, let alone in one evening.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Warner Bros.

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