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Fourth and long

Paul Clinton

“Any Given Sunday,” directed by Oliver Stone and starring Al

Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx and James Woods. Rated R.

Kernel Code: 2

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Oliver Stone has made another brutalizing movie with “Any Given

Sunday.”

At last, Stone has found the subject most akin to his penchant for

pulverizing nerves - tackle football.

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For three nearly incoherent hours, Stone gives us his reductive view

of the game - bone crunching hits, a flashy catch, then more bone

crunching hits.

Without much genuine drama, unless you count trying to predict when it

will end, “Sunday” grinds on without slackening its grip.

Stone, who directed and co-wrote the script with John Logan, tries to

wrap his game day scenes with the personal stories of the coach, players

and executives of a pro team.

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Though the team, the Miami Sharks, plays in the AFFA not the NFL. Just

off a streak of winning seasons, Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) clashes

with the Sharks’ ball-busting owner (Cameron Diaz).

Also, his flashy young quarterback (Jamie Foxx) won’t blindly follow

his orders, especially when D’Amato benches him for the more experienced

Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid).

Instead of making dramatic sense out of football, tying it into a

clear story, Stone throws in all the play calling lingo and inside jargon

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of the sport. That’s always been my big problem with Stone. He doesn’t

sort though his convoluted oversimplifications.

To give his movie “authenticity,” Stone fills it with cameos from

well-known NFL players - Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Dick Butkus, Warren

Moon and others.

While the on-the-field scenes have little variation, the others aren’t

any more compelling.

The embarrassingly bad off-the-field scenes -- whiskey after a tough

game, cocaine mansion parties, lots of locker room camaraderie (with some

frontal nudity) and guys shouting at each other - play like a male soap

opera.

Stone can’t resist throwing some of his 1960s counterculture politics

into the mix - the glitzy-empty marketing of the sport, prejudice toward

black quarterbacks, even the use (and abuse) of painkillers by the

athletes.

Pacino gives the performance of the movie. Though he doesn’t have much

to work with, Pacino rightly emphasizes the coach’s burned out intensity

and ravaged personal life.

“I’ve driven away anyone who ever loved me,” he says at one point.

It wouldn’t be an Oliver Stone movie without James Woods, who shows up

briefly as a sleazy team doctor. Ann-Margret’s cameo, as the booze hound

widow of the Sharks’ former owner, is also memorable.


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