Any Given Sunday
directed by Oliver Stone
(Warner Brothers, 1999)

The quest for the coveted Pantheon Cup has driven the owner of the Miami Sharks -- a close friend of Coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) -- to an early grave, leaving his daughter Christian Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) in charge. The team she now owns is on a four-game losing streak, threatening to keep them out of the playoffs. Her advisers are telling her to move the team to a more profitable market and then sell it. And to top it off they are going through quarterbacks faster than the real-life Philadelphia Eagles. These are just some of the problems that plague Tony D'Amato in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday.

Coach D'Amato's problems are just beginning. After losing his starting quarterback, local hero Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid) and Rooney's backup to injury, he must allow Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) to take their place. After performing his interesting pre-game ritual Beamen, an arrogant but charismatic quarterback, takes the field and offers a great performance, but cannot keep the Sharks from losing yet another game.

At this point Any Given Sunday could have become your typical story of an underdog coming from behind to win the day; however, instead it became all of that (to some extent) and more. To begin with you have the team doctor (James Woods), who constantly puts his players at risk by choosing not to reveal the full extent of their injuries to them. You have Shark LaVay (Lawrence Taylor), an aging linebacker who enjoys both the lifestyle and the game, and Julian Washington (L.L. Cool J) a runningback who is as interested in his statistics as he is team wins. Add to this Al Pacino in all of his acting intensity, plus amazing cinematography used for the game sequences, and Any Given Sunday becomes a believable and dramatic look at what goes on behind the scenes in professional football.

Oliver Stone has once again struck pay dirt, this time with a gritty, flashy football drama that at times is both everything you expected and completely shocking. Not very far into the movie I heard someone sitting close to me say, "I think I should leave before this movie makes me a football fan." Any Given Sunday can be a movie for football fans and non-fans alike, and that is what could make this movie one of Oliver Stone's classics, ranking up there with J.F.K., Wall Street and Born on the Fourth of July.

[ by Dan Ford ]

Buy it from