Gridiron Gang is about an inspirational coach who leads a bunch of juvenile delinquents to victory on the football field. With that summary right there, I was ready to pass up this film right there - after all, how many times has this story been done before? Don't get me wrong - I like sports films - but the underdog sports story is so overused it's... well, I can't think of anything funny to say.
Then again, Gridiron Gang does star The Rock, one of the few, if only, quality transfers from the WWF or WWE or whatever wrestling federation he came from (yeah, take that, John Cena!), and it is, after all, a sports movie.
Give Gridiron Gang a chance, because it is a surprisingly entertaining, fast-moving and uplifting football movie that has some fun characters and good football moments. The Rock gives it his all, even though he isn't doing the action himself. This man, who I can now call an actor, is charismatic, likable and believable, despite his size/stature (thus far he hasn't played a suburban dad). With exception to Doom and the God-awful Mummy Returns, he is a highlight in every movie he's in, and he was the only highlight in 2005's Be Cool. Hell, I even liked The Scorpion King. In Gridiron Gang, The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson, plays real-life coach Sean Porter, who sees that most young men who leave his juvenile detention facility end up back in prison, or dead. To create bonds and boost morale, he starts a football club and somehow manages to get them into a league, where they get to compete against high schools.
Gridiron Gang has a lot of characters, but handles them well. Most of the young stars pull things off quite well, even if you do get the clichés here and there. Like Remember the Titans, the movie manages to balance character development and football quite well; there is some drama, there are some laughs, and there are plenty of football moments to get your adrenaline pumping. Director Phil Joanou executes the football action quite well, and despite the fact that you can pretty much guess what is going to happen, he still makes it suspenseful (how do sports films always manage to do that time and time again?).
Gridiron Gang is a fun and entertaining football movie. It isn't very original and it isn't close to being the greatest sports movie out there, but it is a quality entry in the genre.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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