American Underdog (Movie Review)
Kurt Warner, an NFL Hall-of-Famer quarterback who held positions with both St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals during his storied career, has an inspiring life story worth telling – and now that it has been immortalized on film for all to enjoy, that story can reach fans worldwide.
American Underdog is a faith-based biopic about Kurt Warner’s true-life football career as an undrafted quarterback who rose through the ranks to lead The Greatest Show on Turf with St. Louis Rams before leading Arizona Cardinals to their inaugural Super Bowl appearance in 2008.
The movie follows Warner through his early football journey, from when he was an undersized quarterback at an Iowa college who lost out on playing for University of Northern Iowa because his coach found him too reactive for quarterbacking, to eventually learning how to stay in his pocket and endure being hit harder than anyone.
At that time, Warner meets Brenda (Anna Paquin), an ex-Marine and single mom from her past life who takes an instant liking to him despite both of their rough childhoods. Before long, they find themselves living together along with Brenda’s disabled son Zack who shares similar grit and determination as Warner himself.
At last, his persistence and grit lead him to secure a stocker job at his local grocery store. Even though this low-paying position offers limited career advancement opportunities, Warner remains motivated by his dream of having his image appear on a Wheaties box one day and keeps working toward this goal.
“American Underdog,” which is based on Warner’s memoir “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracle Season”, can be an excruciatingly cliched watch; yet its message remains strong: it’s never too late to change your life and make an impactful impactful difference in this world.
Zachary Levi is an excellent actor, but his portrayal of Warner in “American Underdog” seems one-dimensional. He plays too much like an unassuming hero rather than someone with fierce competition on the field – something which the screenplay doesn’t address very effectively either.
As soon as he finally gets an opportunity with the Green Bay Packers, his tryout goes poorly: He is passed over again and forced to live with Brenda who does not share his enthusiasm for football. But he perseveres; eventually making it to University of Minnesota before the draft occurs and taking another shot at becoming professional player.
Warner remained humble throughout his NFL career, using his God-given gifts to help others and build teams. One of his charitable initiatives included giving to Camp Barnabas in Missouri – an all-inclusive children’s camp.
But while “American Underdog” may be an inspiring tale about one man overcoming hardship, the movie itself falls far short in terms of quality filmmaking. Pacing and message are too vague; also expectedly it contains too much cheese-factor.