MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “American Underdog” stars Zachary Levi (Shazam! , Chuck [TV series]), Anna Paquin (X-Men , The Irishman), Ser’Darius Blain (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Big Leap [TV series]), Hayden Zaller, Bruce McGill (Law Abiding Citizen, National Lampoon’s Animal House), Cindy Hogan (Boy Erased, The Case for Christ), Morgana Shaw (Mad Money, Secondhand Lions), Cora Wilkerson, Danny Vinson (42, Leatherheads), Chance Kelly (Aquarius [TV series], American Sausage Standoff), and Dennis Quaid (Blue Miracle, Far From Heaven). It is Andrew and Jon Erwin (I Can Only Imagine, Woodlawn), who co-wrote the screenplay with David Aaron Cohen (Friday Night Lights , The Devil’s Own) and Jon Gunn (The Week, I Still Believe).
The life story of pro football hall of famer Kurt Warner (Levi), as he goes from stocking shelves at a grocery store to starting his first game as a quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.
Anyone here ever heard of Kurt Warner? If not, he’s got quite an interesting story. One that is certainly filmic for sure.
My youngest brother is a football fanatic. Through and through. So, when a football film releases, he’ll be one of the first to be eager to see it. Such was the case with “American Underdog.” Being that I receive free tickets for working at Regal, I thought I’d take him to see this biography; unfortunately, we ran late, missing about ten minutes of the film. Bullocks.
From what I gathered, “American Underdog” follows your typical beats for a football redemption story. Guy can’t get his shot, works his butt off, gets his shot, then becomes a legend. However, what I didn’t expect was the faith element. Being that I don’t know much about Warner’s life, it intrigued me to see how religious the man is. This isn’t a Christian movie by any means, but it does hold spiritual undertones. His relationship with his wife (Paquin) plays into this, and I found the mentioning of God to be nice, given how there is so much secular media out there now.
The performances in this are pretty solid. Levi does a good job filling in the lead role of a fairly straight-laced guy with a chip on his shoulder. I never realized that Paquin was playing his wife Brenda until afterwards. She was a good choice (even though her hair was a bit distracting), and the two had great chemistry; them and their family, which was comprised of a child actor who is legally blind (Zaller). You couldn’t help but feel warm whenever that kid had a moment with them. Sure, it’s sappy, but whatever.
For the most part, what you are getting from “American Underdog” is a family story. It focuses primarily on Warner and his wife; how they met, the family they raise, and the trials they face as he pursues his career. If you are wanting a tale focused solely on football, you may leave disappointed. There’s enough there for this critic, but even I’ll admit that I loved the movie when it shifted gears to the sport. The direction of the cinematic football games was good, and the inclusion of some well-known players (my favorite being Ray Lewis) was fun.
All in all, “American Underdog” checks off the boxes for a family biopic. I enjoyed the faith elements, and found the chemistry of the leads to be a strong asset. On top of that, the football aspect was fun. Warner has a great story that ultimately makes for a harmless, heartwarming family feature. If you are into biographies and want a little pick-me-up redemption story, check it out. FINAL SCORE: 78%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: