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Film Review: Remember the Titans
In 2000, Boaz Yakin released Remember the Titans, based on the true story of African American football coach, Herman Boone. Starring Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Ethan Suplee, Kip Pardue, Craig Kirkwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Krysten Leigh Jones, Inasia Brown, Hayden Panettiere, Kate Bosworth, Earl C. Poiter, Ryan Gosling, Gregory Alan Williams, Brett Rice, Burgess Jenkins, and David Jefferson Jr., the film grossed $136.7 million at the box office. Nominated for the 2001 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Wood Harris), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress, it won the awards for Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Denzel Washington) as well as the BET Award for Best Actor and the Black Reel Awards for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.
In the early 1970s, a Northern Virginia school experiences racial integration and the football teams from the merged schools are forced to come together and play as one team. To placate the critics, they hire Herman Boone as the new coach who pleads with Bill Yoast, the coach he replaced, to stay on as defensive coach. The two of them lead the team in a training camp where Boone enforces a policy that the team will not separate into racial cliques and eventually, they form friendships and earn respect on the field.
The film that started Disney’s run of serious sports films, Remember the Titans is a really good and well-done film. It brings about a very interesting plot where the trials the team faces isn’t turning from a terrible team in to a good one. Rather, the team is already considerably accomplished and the source of conflict comes with their struggles to face the racial tension between themselves. The film presents the turning point in their interactions with each other in a great way, with Coach Boone realizing that they need a bit of a history lesson and taking them on an early morning run to the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. His speech there inspires them to not only to work like a team, but to get over themselves and come together as teammates.
The characters that make up the team are quite entertaining as well and some even have their own decent character arcs. For instance, there’s Louie Lastik who gets a defining character moment during the training camp when he sits down with his African American teammates at the beginning and starts eating with them like it’s no big deal. Further, he does get some good development as a character considering he starts off thinking he’s just some dumb muscle only good for the line and ends up getting good enough grades to go to college at Boone’s encouraging. Gerry and Julius are also pretty notable characters, considering the two start off as enemies, going at each other’s necks. However, as the film continues, the two form a considerably tight friendship that’ seen on and off the field and really culminates in Gerry calling Julius his brother when the nurse says that only family is allowed in the hospital room.
However, one of the most notable characters in the film is Assistant Coach Yoast. He had his position as head coach ripped out from under him and halfway through the film, he had been assured that it would eventually come back to him. Yet, once he sees how they’re doing that, by having the referees unfairly call the game in favor of the Titans’ opponents as losing would mean Boone getting fired, he decides he’s not going to have any of it. Instead of just watching and letting it happen, he confronts the head referee and states that he’ll go to the media even if it means him falling from grace as well.
Still though, the film isn’t entirely serious as there are a lot of humorous moments to be had. One of which involves the team telling “Your Mom” jokes which ends with Louie, the biggest out of all the players, telling one of the others that he just gave his mother a piggyback ride and she’s twice as heavy as he his. Another good comedic part of the film doesn’t even involve the team. It’s when a restaurant puts up a sign that says “Titans Eat Free” and then later, it’s shown being wiped off.
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