Invincible

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Invincible
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

I've always had a soft spot for a good sports movie so going into "Invincible", I knew that chances were I would like the movie. (Unless, of course, it was like "Rocky V" bad.) Anyways, "Invincible" doesn't disappoint. The movie is based on the inspiring true story of a sad sack football team called the Philadelphia Eagles. After yet another embarrassing season in the NFL, the Eagles hired and up-and-coming college coach named Dick Vermeil (played by Greg Kinnear), who had the rather desperate idea of holding an open tryout for the team. Originally conceived as more of a publicity stunt to generate some interest in a team that was very quickly losing popularity, the Eagles brass were shocked when a 30-year old bartender (an ironically a season tickets holder) from a working class Philadelphia neighbourhood showed up and more than held his own with the professional players. Vincent Papale (Mark Wahlberg) never played college ball. He just lost his job as a supply teacher. His wife left him. He was poor, down and beaten and yet he was invited to the professional camp and made the team. And not only did he make the team, he played three seasons. And in those three seasons he brought a work ethic and winning spirit that helped them end an 11-year losing season streak. Vince Papale did the impossible. He became a folk hero for blue-collar Philadelphia. It really is a truly remarkable story.

Although "Invincible" might not rank up there with some of the great sports movies of all-time like "Rocky" or "Field of Dreams" or be as entertaining as some of my personal favourites like "Varsity Blues" or "Tin Cup", I still found "Invincible" to be a very good sports film. When you consider the fact that "Invincible" is based on a real guy and a real football team that really did suck that bad, it only makes the movie that much better.

Besides having an inspirational story, "Invincible" is pretty much an all-around well-made movie. It does a good job of capturing the feeling of a down-and-out 1970's Philadelphia neighbourhood, complete with the long hair, the side burns, the big collars and, of course, plenty of flowing beer.

I'm not sure what else to say about "Invincible". I guess the only slight criticism I would have is that perhaps the movie could have had a bit more of the real football games, and not just focus on the tryouts and the practices. But that didn't really take away from the movie. "Invincible" is not a heart-pounding, fist-pumping type of movie. In fact, the only part of the movie that really got me was when Vince was telling his buddy in the parking lot that he made the team. It's not a movie that will turn you into a Philadelphia Eagles fan because seriously, why the heck would you want to do that? It's a movie that will put a smile on your face. It's a movie that will make you a Vince Papale fan. And it is a movie that will make you forget the NFL has guys like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and OJ Simpson on its roster. Maybe the NFL should embrace a guy like Vince Papale. And more importantly, maybe the media and the fans should embrace him too. Vince Papale is a salt of the earth type of guy. He's a working class man's football player. And he's a reminder that not all the athletes want to renegotiate signed contracts, smoke pot, physically abuse people and murder their wives. "Invincible" is a must see for Philadelphia Eagles fans. It's a must see for football fans. And if you're a passionate sports fan or even a casual fan, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea checking out this movie at some point in your life.

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