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Remember The Titans  

Herman Boone (Denzel Washington)
Bill Yoast (Will Patton)
Gary (Ryan Hurst)
Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass (Kip Perdue)
Directed by Boaz Yakin Written by Gregory Allen Howard
Rated PG for thematic elements and brief language
Running Time: 113 minutes Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures

I have no love for American football. The sport is clearly a hybrid of rugby and football and yet it is neither. I regard this obscure game as an activity, designed by Americans for the specific comprehension of Americans. For me to sit through four quarters of an American football game is as painful as being forced fed McDonald's milkshake. 'Remember The Titans' is a typical big budget Hollywood film about American Football, directed by Boaz Yakin (Fresh) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, The Rock, Bad Boys).

Remember The Titans
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Set in 1971, the story takes place in a racially divided small town in the state of Virginia, USA., in what was a socially unsettled period of American history. The film is oblivious to many other major national issues of the time, such as drugs, Vietnam War or the feminist movement. With the exception of the token hippy character, Sunshine (Kip Pardue) and the brilliantly soulful Motown soundtrack, the film could have quite easily been set about today. To my mind, at least, the film contains no identifiable elements of the early seventies. This small town in the U.S. seems to rest in a state of cultural hibernation similar to the idealistically fictional world as portrayed in the film 'Pleasantville' (1998).

Denzel Washington ('Malcolm X', 'The Hurricane') plays Herman Boone, a upstate black high school football coach assigned to T.C. Williams high school, the first newly structured and racially mixed school in the state of Virginia, to be head coach. Bill Yoast, played by Will Patton ('Armageddon', 'Entrapment'), was demoted from head coach to being Boone's assistant, leading the reluctant and embittered Yoast to contemplate moving to another high school. Although Yoast happens to be the only one in the town with no racial prejudice, the tension mounts between the Boone and Yoast until they find themselves spiritually united in football. Of course, this same tension is mirrored by the multi-racial team of unfocused and angry young men they now coach. This team is the embodiment of what is, perhaps, some of the most positively outstanding individuals in both black and white American culture. This portrayal is almost as idealistic as a Benetton campaign and although the film attempts to illustrate the symbolic concept of racial unity, its depiction is too na´ve to be genuinely believable.

There is only one message in the film and that is, the relief to black and white racial tension lies in American football as illustrated by three differently scaled but cloned subplots: the relationships between 1) Boone and Yoast; 2) the team quarterback and captain, Berthier, and 'Big' Julius, and 3) the entire population of the town. The constant bombardment of the same stereotypical issues only helps to create a one-dimensioned town which, without football, is just another forgettable name on the map.

To its credit, the film does offer comical moments to intermittently divert the audience from this 'in your face' brainwashing, especially in the form of the social outcast, Californian hippy turn pin-up waif, Sunshine, who redeems himself by coming good as an inspirational quarterback. Also worth a mention is Yoast's feisty nine year old daughter, whose angelic appearance is in direct contrast with her insane passion for football, comparable only to the outspoken veteran American football commentator, John Madden.

Denzel Washington again delivers a persuasive and charismatic performance and Will Patton firmly establishes his presence as the calculating brain behind the team. The 'based upon a true story' tag in the beginning of the movie, however, makes you wonder how gullible these Hollywood studios actually imagine the audience to be. Although 'Remember the Titans' lacks intellectual depth and the exploration of human emotions in this Walt Disney film is somewhat na´ve, it is as it is advertised, a superior quality popcorn flick.

Desmond Yung

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