Damn, I can’t believe I forgot about this one. They were showing it on cable and it is a real fitting coincidence that they happen to show it when the super bowl deal is coming up this sunday. But hell what the hell do i know about what is going on in the world of football these days, that is why it is more exciting for me to root for this movie where Burt Reynolds has to lead a team of inmates in a game against the guards.
Remember when Burt Reynolds was cool? He was just this cocky motherfucker doesn’t give a fuck. All he wants to do is get laid and be a smartass and back then you didn’t expect a big star to be so open about it. He also had that mustache but in this one he shaves it off as soon as he goes to the joint.
The part with the mustache is pretty great though. We open on Burt asleep in a big mansion. This real hot gal is trying to get him to do her, but he’s tired so he just pushes her off. Next thing you know she wants to break up, so he drives away in her car.
So there Burt’s drivin along drinkin a beer when the cops try to pull him over for stealing the car. He kind of shrugs and then leads em on a big chase. When he gets away by jumping a drawbridge backwards, he just laughs, gets out of the car, smokes a cigarette and then dumps it in the ocean. When the pigs finally track im down at a bar, what he does is pick a fight with them which, you know, he ends up in the joint.
Turns out Burt is an ex pro football player disgraced for point shaving, blah blah blah, anyway ends up he’s the quarterback and sort of the coach putting together a team of inmates against the screws who have a semi-pro team. What’s cool about it is that all the inmates are able to come together, even whites and blacks, because they all want a chance to crash the shit out of these guards. I am not a big fan of sports movies but when they take place in prison I am all for it. And this is the perfect setting to show what football is really about, societalistically approved violence against prison guards.
Alot of the movie is getting the team together and training, learning all the dirty tricks, looking up the guards medical records so they can figure out which bones are ripe for breaking. The game seems impossible to win cause the guards are more experienced, but luckily the prisoners have far more resources at their disposal being that they are in prison, you can get just about anything in prison if you know the right people. So they even get nicer uniforms.
So you got the preparations for the game and then the big game, which has lots of split screens and a theme about Burt having to decide whether he can sell out his team again or go all the way. It’s pretty enjoyable stuff.
This is not a perfect picture though, or one of these Poetic ’70s pictures like Mr. Peckinpah did. Just about all of the acting besides Burt is pretty bad so it’s harder to take all that seriously except as a light comedy. This is also kind of what I call a Stick It To the Man picture which in my opinion is not really a good thing. I mean yes, I am DEFINITELY in favor of sticking it to the man, but a Stick It To the Man picture is a picture where they try to manipulate the audience into shouting out “Stick it to the man!” but they don’t really earn it. Like at the end, the leader of the Guardsmen football team, who has been on Burt’s ass for the entire picture, conveniently turns against the warden and supports Burt. Same thing with a little turtley looking geek who is the warden’s assistant. He is there when shady dealings go down and you can tell about a half an hour in advance that he is going to smile when the cons win the game.
These sticks to the man are not earned, they are contrived. We just don’t buy it bud, sorry. You gotta make believable characters and situations and THEN when you stick it to the man, when we BELIEVE you are sticking it to the man FOR REAL, it will make us smile and maybe even give us shivers. Hell man I’m going to put it on the line and say I WILL CRY if you can do it for real. You hear that, a grown man offering to cry in exchange for 100% genuine sticking to the man. Attention hollywood the offer is on the table ladies and gentlemen thanks.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.