Any Given Sunday * 1/2

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Director: Oliver Stone.
Screenplay: Oliver Stone, John Logan.
Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, James Woods, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, Aaron Eckhart, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine, Jim Brown, Lauren Holly, Ann-Margret, Elizabeth Berkeley, John C. McGinley, Charlton Heston.

Considering the talent involved and the fact that American sports tend to be good stock for film material, you’d think that this film would be a winner. Sadly, not on this occasion.

Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino), is the coach for the Miami Sharks, a team who have hit a real slump in form and are struggling to hold their own on the football pitch. The team has too many Chiefs and not enough Indians and D’Amato not only has to manage the on-field antics of his players but also the off-field antics and spiraling ego’s. This is all done with new hard-ass owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) breathing down his neck and demanding results.

There is such a brash in-your-face kinetic energy to this film that you dont get a minute to relax throughout it. Pacino has several of his usual in-your-face rants, Oliver Stone’s direction and dreadful cameo are in-your-face, the sharp and edgy editing is in-your-face. The whole exhibitionist sport is in-your-face. So much so, that it becomes very abusive and quite frankly, tiresome very early on. Added to this, the film goes on for at least an hour over its recommended running time, bombarding us with some very high testosterone and machismo. The only positives rest with the impressive use of close contact football scenes, complete with disorientation and crunching tackles and the fine cast, particulary Cameron Diaz who shows she can match the rants and aggression of Pacino. It’s just disappointing that the film couldn’t supply the great ensemble with some material to work with.

Wonderful cast. Wonderful director. Woeful film.
On Any Given Sunday, I’d avoid this stinker.

Mark Walker

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