Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In my experience as a movie watcher, I’ve learned that it’s really hard to screw up a football movie.  Adam Sandler’s remake of the ‘Longest Yard’ managed just fine to pull off that rare feat, but for the most part, you just can’t go wrong with a football movie.  Heck, if Keanu Reeves in the replacements is watchable, then I rest my case.  Fortunately for Mark Wahlberg / Walt Disney, I saw ‘Invincible’ before I saw Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s ‘The Gridiron Gang’ because the Gridiron gang turned out to be a truly special film, and if you only see one football movie this year, that is one the one I would recommend, but you’ll still have a pretty good time at the show if you decide to catch ‘Invincible’ as well.

I should also mention, for full disclosure, that Disney passed out ten dollar concession vouchers for everyone at this screening, so short of Marky Mark jumping out of the screen and slapping me upside my head, It’s gonna be really hard squeezing a bad review out of this one from me.

‘Invincible’ is the story of Vince Paple, a laid off substitute school teacher, part time bartender and big time Philadelphia Eagles fan.  The Eagles have turned in another losing season, Vince’s wife has left him, and left a note letting him know what a loser he is, and the whole city is in economic depression.   Enter Dick Vermiel (played by Greg Kinnear), a hot shot college coach who has been hired to turn around the Eagles fortunes.  Coach Vermiel gets the bright idea to hold open tryouts for the citizens of Philadelphia to shake up his new city and his moribund team.  Vince, only at the urging of friends, decides to go to the tryout.  Out of the hundreds of over weight, untalented glory hounds at the tryout, only Vince earns an invitation to Eagles training camp, where he is met with disdain from his teammates and doubt from some of his friends.  But with a little luck and a lot of determination, Vince rises above and does the impossible by making the team as a special teams player.

Though this film was nothing special, it hit all the right notes at just the right time as Disney corp. can make these kinds of uplifting dramas in their sleep.  Of particular note was the Eagles opening up the 1976 season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.  Being a child in Texas at that time and absolutely hating the Cowboys, the filmmakers did an excellent job at the expressing the magnitude of Vince, a regular guy, entering Texas stadium with 65 thousand screaming fans and Cowboy legends Roger Staubach, Randy White and Ed Jones just across the sidelines.  I don’t know how that scene would affect a non-football fan, but I literally had Goosebumps looking through that damned hole in the roof at Texas stadium.

There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about ‘Invincible’ as it hit all the sports movie cues clearly and cleanly.  Mark Wahlberg, though super-fit, did seem a bit small to be pro football player, and his performance was rather subdued, but he handled the football aspect of the movie quite well.  Greg Kinnear also gave a good performance as head coach Vermiel.

Definitely worth seeing, and well worth your entertainment dollar, ‘Invincible’  is two hours well spent.  Damn it all to the ‘Gridiron Gang’ which elevates the genre to something special, but I did see ‘Invincible’ first and maybe initial impressions stand that this is a fine film that I’m certain you will find entertaining.

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