Any Given Sunday

Oliver Stone is one of the greatest living directors. He has given us the horrors of war with Platoon, along with the aftermath of war with Born on the Fourth of July. He has given us conspiracy theories with JFK and his take on the media with Natural Born Killers. Sure he has stumbled with movies like U-Turn and Alexander, but every director has had a miss or two so we can't really hold it against him.

In 1999 he gave us his take on football and all the bullshit that comes with it in Any Given Sunday, a movie that seems more prevalent now than it did when the movie came out. Since the movie's release the curtain has been pulled back on not only football, but sports in general. We have had many sports stars being accused of doing everything from taking steroids to running dog fighting rings. Its no wonder why the NFL wouldn't allow Stone to anything affiliated with the NFL in this movie.

The movie is not all doom and gloom though. Sure there is a lot of doom and gloom here, but I think that the movie's heart rests with the people behind the scenes, not just the players. There is a message here and it is that the game is only as good and honest as the people behind it.

Back in the day football was played by real men. Guys who had their heart set in the game. Teamwork was an important thing back then. Nowadays it is not about the game anymore. Its about bonuses, big money contracts, and getting your face plastered on everything from water bottles to the cover of the latest Madden game. Players are willing to risk their lives in order to get more money. The love and heart has been removed from the game. The game seems that it is geared more towards the highlight reel than anything else.

Watching Any Given Sunday I was reminded of another football movie released the same year, Varsity Blues. In that James Vander Beek or whatever his name is, we'll call him Dawson because of that show he had where he owned a creek, went up against Jon Voight. That movie focused on some of the same problems that Any Given Sunday focused on, but in a WB kind of way.

Watching both movies back to back shows how simple minded Hollywood can be. In previous years we were given movie battles that included volcanoes (Dante's Peak and Volcano) and meteors (Armageddon and Deep Impact). This time Hollywood decided to take on football with two very different movies, but ones that held truth in them. I believe that some, if not most, of the guys from Varsity Blues would grow up to become the guys in Any Given Sunday.

It's a sad thing when two movies that come out so close together where one can predict the future of the other. Varsity Blues is a movie of it's time. A movie that so perfectly captures the late 90's. Any Given Sunday, on the other hand, is a movie that is sort of timeless because the same stuff that is happening in that movie is going on now. Any Given Sunday is a very good movie from a great director.

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