Washington's TITANic Battle
On face value "Remember the Titans" is another entry into the feel good sporting movie genre which follows a somewhat formula driven approach in delivering an inspirational story on top of a crowd pleasing climax. It never strays from the path worn by so many other inspirational movies in this particular area and despite being based on a true story is quite predictable. But then if you are looking to watch "Remember the Titans" expecting any gritty realism in demonstrating the racial tensions which surround the story then you will be disappointed as "Remember the Titans" is a family friendly Disney movie which stays away from being too in your face especially when it comes to the racism aspect. Don't get me wrong as "Remember the Titans" is an enjoyable and entertaining movie, it's just too safe when it comes to being gritty.
In "Remember the Titans" we are taken back to the early 70's where racial tension runs high especially at the TC Williams High School as it becomes integrated. On top of this the school governors replace victorious football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton - Entrapment) with Herman Boone (Denzel Washington - The Hurricane) derogatorily known as Coach "Coon" due to his African-American background. With unrest boiling both within his colour divided team as well as the parents; Herman not only galvanizes the players into a winning force but also breaks down the opinions of those who should know better.
For the most I like "Remember the Titans", it's the sort of movie which does what it sets out to achieve, which is to entertain and inspire. The fact that it's based on a true story makes it all the more interesting and although it follows a pretty standard storyline with obvious peaks and troughs you will end the movie feeling like it's been worthwhile. It doesn't matter that it never really brings anything in the least bit new to the niche of inspirational sports movie and you could quite easily split the movie down into a series of set plays. The fact is that from an entertainment point of view "Remember the Titans" is well made with an equal balance of action, humour and sentiment which whips you up on an emotional and inspiration ride.
But then there is a huge negative when it comes to "Remember the Titans" and that is it hides away from putting its neck on the line and delivering that gritty realism as to the racial tensions which are the basis of the story. At times it felt that this aspect of the movie was portrayed as a petty school ground squabble and was resolved by just kissing and making up, which was definitely not the case and nor do I imagine that it was that easy for Herman Boone as he tried to galvanize his team. The thing is "Remember the Titans" is a Disney Picture and as is often the case that they will turn a gritty storyline into a family friendly movie, but I really wish they hadn't. By cheapening the impact of the racial issues "Remember the Titans" lacks that punch of reality which is needed and stops it feeling anything like an accurate interpretation of a true story, more a fairytale.
Performance wise well two fine actors suffer because of the taming down of a storyline. Denzel Washington is an amazingly powerful actor and at times he fills the screen with that power as Herman Boone, but just when he gets going and you expect something quite meaty when it comes to the effects of racism on his family he seems to pull back before becoming too confrontational. Despite this he does a good job in playing Coach Boone and you get a sense that although at times quite harsh gained respect through his fairness. The same problems befall Will Patton who again seems to recoil from showing any true racial tendencies as the assistant coach Bill Yoast but does a good job at convincing me that he knew how to coach a football team.
As for the players in the team themselves, well they all do a good job of providing plenty of entertainment but never doing anything completely memorable. Saying that I didn't expect these performances to be that memorable anyway because the storyline focuses more on Boone than anything else.
What all this boils down to is if you like crowd pleasing sports based movies which will leave you feeling inspired and empowered then "Remember the Titans" will certainly achieve this and a little more. But if you expect a realistic tail of racial tension and one mans courage to fight that by galvanizing a young team of hot heads then you will be disappointed as "Remember the Titans" never gets close to being that gritty or realistic preferring to target itself at the family friendly end of the movie market.