Gridiron Gang

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Gridiron Gang
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Gridiron Gang is a movie based on the true story of a California correctional facility that housed the worst of the worst juvenile delinquents in the entire state. Murderers, thieves, gang bangers, you name it, Camp Kilpatrick had it. As I'm sure with most institutes of this nature, many of the punks who lived there brought their violent lives and their gang mentality with them and needless to say, Kilpatrick was not "home sweet home". At Kilpatrick, however, things changed. Sean Porter (played by The Rock), a correctional officer in the facility, is the reason things changed. Porter decided he no longer wanted to see these kids do their time and end up back on the streets with a gun in their hand or a bullet in their chest. He formed a delinquent football team to get the kids to learn about things like comradery, sportsmanship, cooperation and so on and so forth. The state buys them uniforms, the team practices and fights but eventually they get to the point where they start playing local high school teams in real games. Of course, as should be expected with any team full of a bunch of criminals, there are a few minor and some major bumps in the road but despite all the trials and tribulations, the boys, for the most part, persevere and become a competitive team on the California high school circuit and best of all, and as far as I can tell, it's a program that to this day is still in place.

Gridiron Gag, overall, is a pretty decent movie. I found that perhaps at times it was a bit too sappy - you know those sports movie moments where the underdog scores the touchdown, or the two players on the team who don't get along shake hands, or the coach gives the big inspirational speech. The movie seems to have a plethora of those moments. But despite the overabundance of teary scenes, Gridiron Gang is a pretty damn good movie. It has a decent cast of unknowns and of course, The Rock. And really, how could you go wrong with The Rock? In all honesty, this might have been one of his most underplayed roles to date, but he still manages to have a commanding screen presence.

I suppose with Gridiron Gang, the strenght of the movie lies in the fact that it's based on a true story. I'm not sure if a bunch of criminals playing football did too much for me but seeing a prison guard who watned to do more for these kids than wake them up, feed them and throw them in solitary confinement sure did. He cared about these kids and that's probably what a lot of them need - someone who cares. And anyone who has played sports in their life knows that it is one of the best ways to get men to bond and develop a sense of responsibility and loyalty to one another. Why do you think when you see a lot of these professional athletes retire that they cry like little babies?

Anyways, Gridiron Gang might not be the best football movie I have ever seen nor is it the best gangsta movie I have ever seen but it is nonetheless a decent 90 minutes at the theatre. I would say that the best part of the movie is probably the end when they tell us where some of these kids ended up in their lives. Needless to say, it is somewhat shocking and a bit sad in a couple of instances. Some of them will put a smile on your face. At the end of the movie there is also some real footage of the real Sean Porter and the real delinquent football players and it is surprising how accurate it is to the movie. The only real big difference is that The Rock looks nothing at all like Sean Porter. Some of this footage should make for some interesting bonus features when the DVD is released.

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