Sunday, June 12, 2016

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Gridiron Gang" (2006)

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Movie"Gridiron Gang"
Director: Phil Joanou
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Correctional officer Sean Porter (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) tries to inspire the teenage inmates at a juvenile detention center by creating a spirit of camaraderie through the sport of football.

Based on a true story, Phil Joanou's "Gridiron Gang" is about correctional officer Sean Porter, played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, who works at the Kilpatrick detention center. Tired of the fact that 75% of former inmates wind up back in prison, or worse yet, dead, Sean decides he must do something about it. His solution is to create a football team for the inmates. As a former college ball player himself, Sean understands that the sport of football takes discipline, heart, and teamwork, something he believes will inspire the teens to want to do better in their lives. He also thinks it will help raise the self-esteem of the inmates to encourage them away from lives of crime.

"Gridiron Gang" is a formulaic, by-the-book type of inspirational sports movie. Just because it's basic, however, doesn't make the film ineffective. It's an underdog story about teenage criminals showing kids the path to being an upright citizen through the power of FOOTBALL! Because what's better than FOOTBALL! Nothing brings people together like FOOTBALL! We mean, there is no better way than FOOTBALL! To teach violent offenders to stop being so violent, Sean Porter wants to play FOOTBALL! In all seriousness, sports programs are actually a great way to keep kids off the street and out of gangs. Go sports! For the 10,000th time, Dwayne Johnson is charming in this movie, but again, when is he not? He gives a few rousing speeches to the kids and we're supposed to get invested in his movement, though the movie as a whole is not quite as strong as it thinks it is. The dialogue is rough and starts to come off as after school special-esque before moving into standard sports film territory. It's meant to pull of massive feels seamlessly and it's just not quite as good as its other football counterparts "Friday Night Lights," and even going as far back as "Rudy." The cast of kids do decent enough jobs in their parts, but there isn't one huge standout or awe-inspiring performance other than Johnson. It also moves a bit slow and it starts to feel pretty long before the team even plays their first game. Part of us gets invested in the underdog story as our protagonists rise to the challenge and start to turn their lives around, but again, not wholly. This is a good movie, but not a great one.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 42%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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