Based on the true story of Vince Papale a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who was a long shot to play professional football and did just that to play for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles back in 1976.
I have watched this film a couple of times now and find it a truly inspiring story about how you should never really give up when your play any type of sport. Vince Papale heads to some open trials for the football team he supports and loves, something he didn’t really want to do but was convinced by friends that he had to go for it with this amazing opportunity.
He had recently come to the end of the road with the teaching job he had been doing two days a week as a substitute being cancelled due to funding and then his wife leaving him because he would never be anything. Honestly those scenes are pretty tough to watch as you cannot help but feel sorry for Vince. The wife or soon to be ex obviously does not come across as a very nice person at all, I think this makes what happens to him next even more satisfying.
Dick Vermeil is the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and comes up with the idea to find some hidden talent by holding the open try outs. That doesn’t really work as well as he had hoped when a lot of the men who turn up are not even close to being able to play. But Vince with his running speed impresses the coaches and he becomes the only player to have a chance of making the team being invited to the training camp. Although he had played with his friends and one season in High School he had never actually played in college or at a decent standard before that.
While his chance of a life time is going on he also meets Janet who just so happens to be a huge football fan, but supporting the New York Giants who are big rivals of the Eagles. The story is inspiring and the film is very compact and really does make you think and wonder if those could happen again or happen in any other sports that someone so late on actually makes a professional debut!
Performance wise I was very impressed with Mark Wahlberg in the leading role and he certainly makes everyone watching fully engage with the film and character of Vince. Greg Kinnear is decent as well as the struggling coach who does not have the backing of the fans or the press. Elizabeth Banks before she started taking on totally crazy roles impresses and feels very real in this outing as Janet. The relationship between Vince and Janet feels very real in the slow build up with a good amount of chemistry between Wahlberg and Banks to really help create that.
A rather low-key American Football film compared to others that are out there but that does not take away from how powerful the story is and teaching everyone that you should never ever give up on your dreams, always work hard and you never know what might actually happen.