Sunday, April 28, 2013

Now on Netflix Instant: Undefeated (2011)

Undefeated (2011) - Directed by Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin.

By Kenny Howell

Why I waited so long to see this movie I don't know.

I had heard so many good things, it won the Oscar for Best Documentary, and it involves Tennessee High School football, which I cover.

I wish I wouldn't have waited so long, but now I am glad that I saw it. It is unbelievably good.

Manassas is a high school in north Memphis, a extremely low income inner city area. Their football team has never won a playoff football game in over 100 years of existence, partially because of the issues the school has. The movie starts with Head Bill Courtney going over what had happened in the previous two weeks, which including player arrests and players getting shot.

However, Courtney had a class of talented players that have reached their senior year. They are led by O.C. Brown, an over 300 pound offensive lineman that is getting a lot of notice from major college football programs across the country. He is a good kid, but is having trouble getting his grades where they need to be.

Montrail Brown is a kid that has the grades to get out of the rough area of Memphis and make something of himself. However, he isn't sure he can secure the money to go to school. He lost his father a few years earlier, and Courtney is a bit of a father figure to him.

The most interesting story is that of Chavis Daniels. Daniels has a history of unruly behavior and spent over a year in a juvenile home. Daniels has a big time anger problem, and Courtney helps him work through that so he can be a part of the team.

The movie is pretty much set up as kids trying to get out of poverty and change the trend of the students at their school, but it really takes on the importance of athletics in children's lives. Athletics take hits because many people don't see it as a necessity, but this movie shows just what it means to the kids involved, and what they learn from it. The biggest lesson, which Courtney repeatedly tells his team, is overcoming the times when life smacks you in the face. These kids have had that happen their entire lives, and Courtney's coaching and the team's journey helps them take those next steps in their lives.

The filmmakers really capture the emotion surrounding the game and these kids' lives. You may get misty eyed from overwhelming joy or the pain of defeat. Either way, if you don't get invested in this movie, there is something wrong with your insides.

Undefeated is now streaming on Netflix Instant.

Rating: ****

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