They have covered the lack of a good story with almost three hours of the clanking of colliding fiberglass, while the sky overhead is filled with visions of dollar bills.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


Oliver Stone sees the world in two ways: the way it is and the way he wants it to be. This collision of opposites provides the grist, the paranoia, and the excitement in all his films. He wraps history--Nixon, JFK, Larry Flynt, Vietnam, and the infamous Natural Born Killers--in a mix of violence and conspiracy that leaves audiences arguing over the accuracy of his tormented visions.

Any Given Sunday is a sustained rage at the state of professional football. Does it really matter whether Stone exaggerates or understates the sins of football? It's enough that he takes aim at one of the ugliest aspects of our national culture, hammering home its absurdities at intolerable length.

In pro football the time has long since passed when the purity of Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, and Gale Sayers made their fans misty-eyed. From there to here lies the nasty progression to today's reign of drugs, steroids, money, power, and greed. The public has every right to be absolutely disgusted. The sport is played by multimillion-dollar men attended by the women and hangers-on who serve them. For a few minutes in the sun of celebrity, they play the sport in metaphors of sex and war: football players as Roman gladiators. As if it isn't obvious enough, Oliver Stone repeatedly runs clips of Ben Hur to remind us that sport is war.

Mr. Stone shoots his movie in a rap 'n roll frenzy so overwhelming that any character development is lost. Even Al Pacino can't yell louder than this score. Tony D'Amato (Mr. Pacino) represents the old order of coaching. Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) is the pure quarterback of yore. In a nice performance, Jamie Fox as Willie Beamen tries to remember what it cost him to become the new overnight sensation for the Miami Sharks. Cameron Diaz's talents are wasted as the villainous owner of the Sharks, as are Ann-Margret's as her alcoholic mother.

People involved in this ugliness are driven and absorbed by celebrity. Puffed-up announcers in the press box fill airtime with cliches. Postgame parties expand sexual reputations. Dreadful wives operate within a pathetically limited paradigm. It's all about who you know.

Oliver Stone presents men as grotesque sides of beef inflicting injuries that didn't happen when normal-sized men played the sport. When Coach D'Amato invokes Y.A.Tittle ("Tittle says the game has got to be about more than money"), we can only laugh. It's only about money-and blood, betrayal, painkillers, needles, and playing on decorated grass. The crowds, the noise, the spectacle are garish and cruel.

You won't get to know any of the people in this movie; the camera is running too fast to catch their dilemmas. The sound-effects men are kings of this field. They have covered the lack of a good story with almost three hours of the clanking of colliding fiberglass, while the sky overhead is filled with visions of dollar bills.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 498
Studio : Warner Bros.
Rating : R
Running time : 2h42m


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