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Is this documentary worth its Oscar status or just a capable sports saga made by guys lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time....?
Anchor Bay / 113 Minutes / 2011 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: February 19, 2013
Football is mostly defined by wins and losses, but in every season there is a story to be told.
Filmmaking duo Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin unravel Memphis’ 2009 Manassas Tigers in a compelling narrative by candidly capturing the struggles of endearing coaches and players. Though Oscar-winning sport documentary Undefeated keeps its focus on likeable characters such as head coach Bill Courtney (driven by a painful past to mentor young men), undersized offensive tackle Montrail “Money” Brown (driven by a desire to succeed) and the tank-like lineman O.C. Brown (facing academic challenges), we’re also introduced to the troubled (and fresh out of incarceration) Chavis Daniels.
Most might view Undefeated as a captivating football movie – and it is – but this reviewer found the understated tone of despair and poverty to be the more powerful takeaway. In Manassas, football is a band-aid for a bigger problem – a lack of male role models. The importance of fathers is emphasized by Bill Courtney’s dichotomy of coaching young men while having little time for his own children.
For Chavis Daniels, his abandonment issues have fostered an unstable teenager, prone to violent outbursts. The story finds its main conflict woven around the relationship of these two men and Courtney’s patient and forgiving approach.