The story of NFL MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback, Kurt Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a supermarket to becoming an American Football star.

Pam says:

“Destiny belongs to the underdogs,” a quote from the newest film “American Underdog” directed by the duo Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin and starring Zackary Levi (“Shazam”) and Anna Paquin as Kurt Warner and Brenda Meoni. It’s a Cinderella story of a man with a dream of being the next Joe Montana who loses his way only to find his way back through the love of Brenda and the coaches who see how special he is. The true life story of this MVP Hall of Fame winning quarterback is uplifting and inspiring even with its rather contrived musical score.

To read Pam’s review in its entirety, go to RHR


Chuck says:

There’s no shortage of sports movies out there and, as we’ve established here before, they follow a well-worn template. So, it’s no wonder that I, and likely you, approach them with a sense of trepidation.  How is the latest inspirational, come-from-behind, underdog sports film going to move me?  In the end, very few of them do.

To my surprise, the Kurt Warner biopic “American Underdog” hit me right where I live. To be sure, the story of the Hall of Fame quarterback checks all the boxes of the typical genre entry, while the sports scenes are rousing, yet hardly exceptional. Yet, there’s more at play here as a sense of sincerity suffuses the story that will likely prevent even the most cynical of viewers from scoffing at it. Warner’s story is incredible, as much for what happens on the gridiron as off, and that the film stresses these moments more than the big game scenes helps make it a truly special entry in the genre.

The film begins with a quick look at Warner’s (Zachary Levi) college days where at the University of Northern Iowa, he didn’t make an impression until his senior year.  However, while there he met Brenda (Anna Paquin), a tough single mom with two children, one of whom, Zack (Hayden Zaller), suffered brain damage and was rendered blind when his father accidently dropped him at four months. Though she’s suspect of Warner’s motives (“Who would want me and all of my baggage?”), Brenda comes to see what a straight arrow he is and that he is nothing if not persistent in achieving what he sets his mind to.

And we see that this ultimately holds him in good stead as Warner suffered more than his share of setbacks before succeeding in the NFL. We see him stocking shelves in a local grocery store after going undrafted and reluctantly entering the fledgling Arena Football League before finding success with the St. Louis Rams, all of which “Underdog” covers in a rousing fashion, underscoring the on-field successes with the proper amount of inspirational gravitas to send a chill up the viewer’s spine.

But it’s the moments between Warner and Zack where the movie really shines. These scenes could have gone wrong in many ways but the natural camaraderie between Levi and Zeller prevents them from becoming overly sentimental. The pair have a natural rapport that contributes to creating a strong narrative foundation as does Paquin’s unaffected turn and Dennis Quaid’s performance as Dick Vermeil, the coach who sees something in Warner which others don’t.

Based on his autobiography and serving as one of the film’s producers, Warner obviously had a great deal of control in bringing his story to the screen and as such, one would assume he made sure to put the most positive of aspects of his story front and center. That is absolutely the case but it’s far from a self-serving approach.

From what I’ve read, not much of what is on display in the film is fabricated or exaggerated. Yes, Warner’s on-field exploits are incredible but it’s the charitable acts he’s committed and those he’s inspired because of them that are his most significant acts. In the end, you come to realize that he isn’t concerned with inspiring us with how well he throws a football but in showing the positive impact of the good deeds he’s done. This isn’t a self-serving act- Warner’s just leading by example, as he’s always done and “Underdog” is a sincere testament to the simple nature and powerful results of adhering to the Golden Rule.

3 Stars


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