Friday, October 10, 2008

"The Express"

I don’t give a shit about sports, so when yet another sports movie comes our way embracing the same exact cliches with little or no differentiation (this time, there’s integration!), I tend not to flip my shit. I never really hate them, but I also don’t hesitate to flip the channel when I see that they’re on TV. However, "The Express," feels a lot more sincere, entertaining and well-packaged than most movies of its based-on-a-true-story ilk (much how I felt about "Flash of Genius"). Telling the story of Ernie Davis (a blandly solid Rob Brown), the *SPOILER AHEAD!* first black man to win the Heisman trophy *SPOILER OVER* Every redundant superlative you can think of (e.g.: inspiring, involving, emotional) applies to the end result here, but the cliches are strung along in a manner than never causes eyes to roll and makes for a surprisingly compelling two-hours-plus. Even the racial elements of the story – well-worn territory in this sort of thing – are dealt with in a fairly frank way that doesn’t feel overly familiar, and, if anything, are lent more of a resonance and emotional impact in an “Obama era.” The cinematography makes the film perpetually great to look at, and Dennis Quaid does especially fine work as the coach whose awkward growth into acceptance mirrors the country’s. The flick is no “Friday Night Lights;” it’s not subversive or genre-defining , but in the realm of conventional, check-off-each-expected-story-beat sports films, it’s one of the better ones I can recall in the last decade or so.


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