REAL OPINION: Faith-based biopic ‘Underdog’ inspires | Lifestyles
AMERICAN UNDERDOG: THE STORY OF KURT WARNER (Cinema)
Kurt Warner’s life story was revealed in his memoir “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Season of Miracles.”
Now his inspiring biopic is coming to screen with Zachary Levi as a talented athlete who finally had a chance in the NFL after interludes as a grocery storekeeper and as a football player in the arena of the Iowa Barnstormer.
Because Warner was playing college ball at the tiny college in northern Iowa, he had a hard time getting the attention of pro teams. But when he finally had a chance with the Green Bay Packers, he failed to assert himself enough to get noticed.
Filmmaker brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin, who brought “I Can Only Imagine” to screen in 2018, co-wrote and directed “American Underdog”.
The faith-and-well-being-based feature includes Warner’s romance with Brenda (Anna Paquin), a former Marine, and a single mother of two. Brenda’s son Zack (Hayden Zaller) suffers from blindness and other problems.
When the future quarterback finally gets his chance as an undrafted free agent in the NFL under coach Dick Vermeil (Dennis Quaid) of the St. Louis Rams, Warner shows humility as well as his incredible talents as a ferryman.
LICORICE PIZZA (Theaters)
Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a high school student from Encino, Calif., Is fascinated by an attractive young woman who is the photographer’s assistant on “Photo Day”.
Although in her twenties, Alana Kane (Alana Haim) dismisses Gary as being too young for her, he persists and manages to get her phone number.
In famed screenwriter and director Paul Thomas Anderson’s nostalgic 1973 comic book, Gary and Alana remain the main characters in an uplifting episodic tale that turns into occasional melancholy.
At just 15, Gary once worked as an actor in a television series and now sees himself as an entrepreneur. He ventures into the craze for waterbeds and hires Alana as a sort of entrepreneur. Alana, who wants to be an actress, auditions with actor Jack Holden (Sean Penn), but the evening turns sour when drunken Holden and director Rex Blau (Tom Waits) decide to recreate a scene from one of their films with a motorbike jump over a flaming ramp. Alana falls off the bike before the jump and Gary saves her.
After the OPEC oil crisis halted production of waterbeds, Gary opened a pinball shop.
Anderson chose non-professionals Hoffman and Haim as the stars of the film. Their natural and unaffected performances bring a new reality to this Hollywood saga.
In a memorable moment tied to waterbeds and the gas shortage, Bradley Cooper brilliantly portrays Jon Peters, the former hairstylist and future real-life producer who reminds everyone he’s dating Barbra Streisand.
3 and 1/2 stars
A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN (Theaters)
Based on real events and directed by Denzel Washington, “A Journal for Jordan” features a touching love story between New York Times reporter Dana Canedy and First Sergeant Charles Monroe King.
The couple met at their parents’ house; he had served in the army under his father. Eventually, Canedy (Chante Adams) and King (Michael B. Jordan) fall into a long-distance long-distance relationship.
When they finally reunite, they start a serious romance. Because the viewer has known from the start of the film that King was killed in Iraq, the flashbacks to their love, commitment to each other and to their child are tinged with sadness.
At over two hours, the film feels repetitive and doesn’t pay enough attention to the evolution of the characters or to the diary itself.
While away, the soldier wrote several hundred pages of advice and information about himself for their son Jordan (Jalon Christian) to one day read.
2 and 1/2 stars
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews films, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.