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Remember the Titans

Starring Denzel Washington, Will Patton
Screenplay by Gregory Allen Howard
based on a true story
Directed by Boaz Yakin

IN SHORT: A Very enjoyable flick with warm fuzzies for all. [Rated PG (for thematic elements and some language). 105 minutes]

It isn't a diss to say that Remember the Titans is a film filled with warm fuzzies. It is a remarkable thing to observe, considering that film's story is true story about school integration and racism in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971. There, three high schools have been crunched into one, T. C. Williams HS. With the contraction of the schools comes a similar number crunch on the number of high school football coaching jobs available. In Virginia, we are told, fan fanaticism over high school football is something akin to the Second Coming. So is the worship of the high school football Coach.

In Alexandria, beloved coach, Bill Yoates (Will Patton) is expected to lead the Titans to yet another winning season. But the entire town, actually the predominantly white school population, is shocked when a more tanned Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is imported from North Carolina and immediately elevated from assistant to head honcho by the School Board. When Yoates doesn't quit his job, he is assured by those shocked parental units that they will find a way to get him into the position they expect.

After a preschool training camp, the kids learn to work together even if the coaches have to work out an "understanding". When school starts, well, it is first day of school and the learning process must start all over again. All is not as neat and clear as it appears to be in Alexandria in in a film that, despite the fact that you know what has to happen to yield a happy ending, still had the audience I sat with applauding when it happened.

But then, we expect no less from a flick starring Denzel Washington, whose choice in projects continues to be almost impeccable.

What we get isn't a flick in which the racism is as one sided as we normally get and much, much funnier than we are ever given cause to expect (hats off to screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard). The black kidlets are just as unhappy with the situation as the white ones. The parents aren't much better. Each side has what passes for a leader -- this is a movie after all, and each side must have one character to focus on. Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) is the focus on the African-American side, Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) on the other. Adding character color is the big fat kid from New Jersey, Lewis Lastik (Ethan Suplee), who just likes football, and Coach Yoast's tomboy nine-year old Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere), who stomps all over the adult character performances. It's called stealing the show, and Hayden does it effortlessly.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Remember the Titans, he would have paid...


The only catch is that, with so many conflicts -- coach versus coach, player versus player -- plus student personal problems and a political subplot, making everything come out nice and neat kind of makes the ending feel, well, too darn neat. It's mentioned only because we noticed it. It wasn't enough to dim any enthusiasm for the movie, which we enjoyed tremendously.

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