Invincible Movie Review
Walt Disney Pictures has singlehandedly grabbed the feel-good sports movie market, much like they once had the squeeze on the cartoon genre. With hit films like "Miracle" and "The Rookie" under their belt, they certainly know what they need to do to succeed - deliver some entertaining sports excitement, don't make things too cheesy, and have a happy ending. "Invincible," the latest in this line of sports flicks, does just that.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Vince Papale, a struggling Philly native whose wife has just left him, has lost his substitute teaching job, has to borrow from his father to pay rent and who manages to get by on a part-time bartending position. A good football player and a diehard Eagles fan, he gets by doing and watching what he loves - even when the team is about as bad as they can be. When a new coach is brought in (Greg Kinnear), the Eagles decide to hold open tryouts to rouse interest from the fans - and Vince is the one man who makes it past the first cut.
If this film can be compared to any sports film, it would have to be "The Rookie," as this movie is less about a specific sporting success than a man overcoming the odds in training camp. Most of the movie is spent in the pre-season as Papale fights to get on the team, even when he doesn't expect to make it. Ultimately, the film is still a moving, entertaining piece of work, but doesn't necessarily have a climatic finish like a world championship or anything like that.
Ericson Core, in his feature length directorial debut, has created a good but not great film. The movie captures the depressed mood of 1970's Philadelphia quite well (of course I have no clue if it's an accurate mood), and never loses its pacing. "Invincible" is never boring, and often very entertaining, but doesn't quite have the impact of some more eventful sports movies. "Invincible," while presenting interesting characters (though, surprisingly, none of those characters are Papale's teammates) and a fun underdog story, is essentially a training camp movie, and training camp movies we have seen before. Ultimately, there isn't much of a repeat viewing here.
The real highlight of the movie is the performances. Wahlberg is the perfect choice to play Papale, as he captures the working-class look quite well and also turns in a perfect down-on-his-luck-and-skeptical-of-his-own-future performance. Kevin Conway is good as Papale's father, and Kinnear turns in yet another change-of-character performance that works well in every scene.
"Invincible" is a fun sports movie and if you like underdog stories than this one is certainly a must-see, but if sports movies aren't your cup of tea there are much better ones out there.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.