We Are Marshall

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We Are Marshall
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

"This is a true story" is the script that appears at the beginning of "We Are Marshall". It's not the typical "based on a true story", which always makes one wonder how much of the movie has a little "Hollywood" added to it. "This is a true story" really kind of hits you right off the bat that what you are about to watch actually did happen.

On November 14, 1970, a chartered plane carrying almost all of the varsity football team from Marshall University, its coaches and a handful of fans did crash. Everyone on board did die. There's no "Hollywood" to make this tragedy better or worse. It was, without a doubt, the most devastating event in the history of American sports. But out of this tragedy there arose many heroes. Led by linebacker Nate Ruffin (Anthony Mackie), college president Dr. Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn) and distraught survivor/assistant coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), the Marshall University football program was saved. Coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) was hired and despite the fact he was forced to recruit players from the baseball, basketball and soccer teams, Coach Lengyel managed to put together a team that uplifted the spirits of Marshall University and the entire city of Huntington, West Virginia.

"We Are Marshall" is a good movie about a significant event. There are many great moments in the movie - the students chanting "we are Marshall" outside Dedmon's window, the symbolic case of beer and the first game at Marshall after the crash are some that come to mind (although I really would have liked to have seen the case of beer played out a bit more). McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn and the rest of the cast are all solid. McConaughey certainly is playing a new, less sexy, less shirtless and more quirky role than he has in the past, but he still does a good job. The movie has got a handful of truly heartbreaking moments which is pretty much to be expected.

"We Are Marshall" is a poignant, dramatic, very heartwarming and very powerful movie. Overall, I found "We Are Marshall" to be a solid movie, more of a movie about a football team and a community rising up from the grips of a tragedy than an all-out sports movie. There weren't even any really great football moments. Even the grand finale in the big game seemed to go a bit over the top, perhaps a little too overly dramatic. But that's okay. It still worked. Football is not what the movie is about.

I can guarantee "We Are Marshall" won't go down as one of the great sports movies of all-time. It is an outstanding human interest movie. It will leave you with a whole new respect for a city, a university, a football team, its coaches and an event that many of the younger generation might not have even heard about. It's a definite tear-jerker and a story that reminds us that even in the face of a disaster, people have to remember that all is not lost. But what was lost should never be forgot. Just ask the people of Marshall University.

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