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Starring
Matthew McConaughey
as Jack Lengyel

Matthew Fox
as Red Dawson

Anthony Mackie
as Nate Ruffin

David Strathairn
as President Donald Dedmon

Ian McShane
as Paul Griffen

Kate Mara
as Annie Cantrell

Written by Jamie Linden

Directed by McG

Running Time: 2:11

Rated PG
for emotional thematic material,
a crash scene, and mild language.

B+


THE OPENING

We Are Marshall was a strong, emotional film that hit all the right notes.

THE STORY

In November of 1970, a small plane carrying the Marshall University football team crashed in a field just outside of Huntington, WV. Everyone on board died. In the immediate aftermath, the college and the town had to decide what to do. Should the football program remain, or should it be suspended. In stepped an unknown coach named Jack Lengyel who wanted nothing more than to try and help the school heal. But in a small town where the team meant everything, not everyone agrees with the idea that football should continue. But through all the adversity, the young Thundering Herd fought through the pain and the suffering and came together as one.

THE REVIEW

Here's the thing about movies like We Are Marshall; you know what you're gonna get. You know that the movie will start off on a sad note and the rest of the film will be spent fighting back to the top. People love a true underdog story, which is why filmmakers keep making them. Granted We Are Marshall is based on a true story, but that doesn't make the act of telling a story any different. But even though I knew exactly what I was going to get, I was still affected by it, and that is the mark of good filmmaking.

First there was the tragedy of the plane crash. It was done in such a way that we first get to meet all the people involved, whether they were on the plane or not. It was a nice quick introduction to the characters and you could immediately tell that in this small town, the football team meant everything. I felt the time in between the crash and the football team getting back together was rather short, but it was still powerful. There's a scene they show in all the trailers of the entire school standing outside of a meeting chanting 'We Are Marshall' over and over, and that scene still brought goosebumps. All in all the opening part of the movie took about 20-30 minutes but it set the tone for the rest of the film.

Then comes act two: the rebuilding. This is where you need a strong, motivational type person to help everyone out of their funk. Matthew McConaughey is kind of an odd choice for this role. Normally you see him in romantic comedies, where he takes off his shirt and flashes his smile and gets the girl. In this film however, he's a married man with 3 kids. He's got his hair matted down and he talks out of the side of his mouth. And he's got some strange constant hand movements. He's not so much big on speeches as he is making people feel at ease. He has one or two rallying moments, but for the most part he's the comedian. He's always got a quick line that will make you laugh. He may not have been the first person I would have thought of for the role, but he did a good job.

Act three is the rebirth. The team is reunited and they get back on the field. Whether they win or not doesn't matter, just as long as they're out there giving it their all. I think what I enjoyed most about the film is that they didn't just focus on McConaughey's character and make him the saving grace of the town. He was just a part of the overall picture. His assistant coach, played by Matthew Fox, was supposed to be on the plane but opted out at the last second. His character had to go through the biggest arc and he was allowed to do it on his own. The same with the other players and people from the town. The coach didn't take them all aside and tell them they were going to be alright. Instead, they were all allowed to feel their own way through the tragedy.

There will obviously be moments of sadness during the movie, and I daresay most people will shed a tear or two. There will also be a lot of lighthearted moments, many courtesy of Matthew McConaughey. And there will certainly be a lot of goosebump moments, whether it's from a speech or whether it's from the football games. Like all good underdog sports films, the movie makes sure to hit you with all the emotions. And like all good movies, it never panders to the lowest denominator to make you feel something. Not every actor is great, and not every line is perfect, but all things considered, it's a pretty darn good film.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So overall, the movie will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you stand up and shout We Are Marshall!

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Prices subject to change
reviewed 12/19/06

© 2006 Wolfpack Productions

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