Remember the Titans

Directed by Boaz Yakin
Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee, Kip Pardue, Hayden Panettiere.
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and some language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
October 2, 2000

Well, there's a first time for everything. Jerry Bruckheimer has actually made a decent film that does more than just pander to dim adolescents. Remember the Titans is his best film since the death of his ex-partner Don Simpson. Together, they made trashy but fun pictures like Flashdance and Top Gun. This is a whole new direction for Bruckheimer: aspiring to inspire. It's even being distributed under the flagship Walt Disney Pictures brand, instead of the non-family-oriented Touchstone brand.

Denzel Washington stars as Harold Boone in the true story about the T.C. Williams High School football team. In 1971, the two high schools in Alexandria, Virginia were merged since one was all-white and the other all-black. Boone was hired as the new head coach of the black school, but after the merger, he was assigned to be the assistant to Coach Yoast (Will Patton), of the old white school, at T.C. Williams. The board of education then promoted Boone against his will to head coach to fill a state quota.

Yoast reluctantly agreed to be his defensive coordinator. The White Men in Charge, however, plan to give zero tolerance to Boone. If they lose one game, Boone is out, and Yoast is back in charge. So, Boone courageously brings together a team of white and black boys in the face of adversity from all sides.

Heavy stuff for Bruckheimer. Of course, he didn't write or direct the film. Under his close supervision were director Boaz Yakin (A Price Above Rubies) and writer Gregory Allen Howard (his first screenplay). What they have managed to put together is not a great film, but a decent, worthwhile docudrama that says some meaningful things about teamwork and racial harmony. Without Washington in the lead, it could have easily been a Movie of the Week, but he legitimizes the film with a warm, witty performance.

Some of the events in this supposedly true story did worry me, however. Many of the situations and characters seemed fabricated, as if they were taken right out of Roger Ebert's Little Movie Glossary. They even have a "win one for the Gipper ending" la Knute Rockne, All American. Then before the ending credits, they have the typical epilogue cards, which seem to back up the film with what happened to the actual people.

I'm not sure what to make of Remember the Titans, but I certainly won't forget it -- at least not until next week.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Remember the Titans (2000)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Remember the Titans (2000) -- VHS
Remember the Titans (2000) -- DVD
Remember the Titans: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan