REMEMBER THE TITANS
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Denzel Washington,
Will Patton, Donald Faison, Nicole Ari Parker
Director: Boaz Yakin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2006
“I know football. But what you did with those boys…you were the right man for the job.”
“You’re a Hall of Famer in my book!”
It is simply impossible not to be entertained and emotionally involved in a movie like Remember the Titans, especially if you are a devoted football fan. Hollywood has had an impressive track record of football movies, and while this movie is not in the same league as say, Any Given Sunday, it is indeed superb family fare, and one of the best live action movies to ever come from Disney.
The film is true to its time and era, using racial tensions that plagued southern schools in the early 70s, when public schools were first being integrated. Set in Alexandria, VA in 1971, the movie is an account of the T.C. Williams High Titans football team, and its coach, Herman Boone, who is the first African-American to ever coach high school football. Boone is portrayed by Denzel Washington in another fabulous performance. The current coach of the Titans is Bill Yoast, played by Will Patton in what maybe his finest work to date, who is bumped down to assistant coach, as Boone is given the head coaching position. Yoast is stunned at first, but is then willing to accept his new position anyway and put faith in Boone’s coaching ability.
With Boone as the head coach, and the mostly white team now a fully racially mixed team, the town of Alexandria is in an uproar. Boone has vowed not to let prejudice of the players or the town threaten his goal, which is to turn his team into pure winners. The football action kicks off with the team at training camp, where the teammates learn not only the way Boone coaches, but they get to learn a little about each other as well. Boone also arranges white players to room with black players in order to get to know one another and to hopefully push all racial boundaries aside.
We also learn that some of the white players do not get along with some of the black players not because of race, but because of their sportsmanship. There’s a wonderful scene where team captain Gary (Ryan Hurst) tells newcomer Julius (Wood Harris) not to play for himself and leave a teammate out hanging as a result. It’s pleasing to see that it’s not race driving these players’ anger and frustration, but it’s mainly sportsmanship. Gary and Julius do form a bond, and soon become very best friends.
After training camp, the players return for the first day of school, which is fueled by the hatred of angry demonstrators who protest outside the school. Most of the team by now have created a unique bond, and have only one thing on their mind, which is winning.
It’s quite interesting to note that the movie is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s usually known for creating hyperactive action blockbusters like Armageddon and Gone in 60 Seconds. Remember the Titans, by comparison, is more subtle and laid back, though the football sequences do have somewhat of an adrenaline-pumping feel to them, which is helped by a pulse-pounding score by one of my favorite composers, Trevor Rabin, who also composed music for Con Air, Armageddon, and more recently, The 6th Day. Washington is brilliant as always as the determined Boone, and equally as good is the underrated actor Will Patton, whose character could’ve easily been played out as racist antagonist who goes to coach for the rival team as a result, but Patton brings a sense of realism and pure humanity, as he is concerned with the very same thing Boone is concerned with, which is a winning team.
Although Remember the Titans does follow the sports movie formula, a formula that has been applied countless times, you become more than involved with this team and its coach. You want the blacks and whites to form a bond, and they do. And you also want to see the team win a bunch of games, and they do, and as a result of this, you find yourself cheering in the end. This is a glorious, crowd-pleasing piece of entertainment that is more than perfect for the entire family.
A terrific anamorphic widescreen transfer as usual from Disney. Picture comes out as mostly sharp and clear, and a wide, very rich use of colors, even in the football scenes, which mostly take place mostly at night. This outstanding presentation scores Disney an instant touchdown.
This is simply a knockout job from Disney. The 5.1 digital audio track is put to such perfect use, that it might even make you want to cheer yourself. The football scenes are captured perfectly, and seem to catch every loud cheer and bone crunching contact. The movie is also filled with classic songs from the 70s, such as “Spirit in the Sky”, “Spill the Wine” and “Up Around the Bend”, all of which come through beautifully and dynamically on this great transfer.
The extras on this Director’s Cut release are bit lighter. Missing, in particular, are the commentary tracks. What is included, apart from the five additional minutes of footage, are Deleted Scenes, two featurettes, “Denzel Becomes Boone” and “Beating the Odds” and the documentary “Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes”.
remains a remarkably energetic football movie, as well as one of Disney’s best
live action movies of the past several years. It lives up to repeated viewing,
making this new Director’s Cut an even bigger treat!