One of those "based on a true story" sports movies. This one tells the story of Marshall University's American football team, who were killed in a plane crash in 1970. All but a handful of players and coaches (who were not on the plane) survived. Matthew McConaughey stars as Jack Lengyel, who is hired to coach the team through the 1971 season. He struggles to recruit new players and encourages the president of the college (David Strathairn) to petition the NCAA to allow Marshall to field freshmen in their team. Conflict arises over whether or not it is appropriate to field a team, whether it will dishonour the memory of those lost by failing to compete at the same level, or whether, in fact, it will help the town of Huntington, West Virginia to heal.
The gist of the film is that there is more to sports than winning (apparently contrary to the American ethos, but well familiar with us Britishers, which is perhaps why Ian McShane doesn't look out of place). Although the movie treatment does conventionalize some of the plot elements, there are some powerfully moving cinematic moments (usually avoiding schmaltz) that can move you close to tears even if you're in a cynical mood. The on-field action is convincing and dramatic without being quite as brutal as Any Given Sunday.
Nugget: not bad as American football movies go. It wouldn't be out of place on a long coach journey, although it's not quite as inspiring or entertaining as Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights. The film is directed by some guy called "McG" - what's that all about?