My All American Blu-ray Review
If there is one thing Hollywood hasn’t been short on since the late 1980s, it is emotionally-charged inspirational sports films, right? So how does one stand out from the pack? That is a difficult question for any storyteller, let alone one who has already told two memorable sports stories. Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, the writer who brought us the incredible HOOSIERS (1986), RUDY (1993) and even the much less well-received THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES (2005) has a new film to his name, MY ALL AMERICAN. Does it succeed in standing out? That’s a difficult question, especially given his own pedigree. But MY ALL AMERICAN does succeed in a few areas that make it absolutely worth a view if you’re a fan of the genre, of sports, or just of good-natured entertainment.
Freddie Steinmark wants to play football more than anything in the world. He and his father have been training his body and mind to play in high school and college for as long as he can remember. Sadly, Freddie never quite grew to be the size of most college athletes. But one college coach decides to give him a shot, Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) at the University of Texas, and Steinmark makes the most of it, becoming one of the youngest players to start under Royal as a Longhorn. But of course, just as things are starting to look their best for the team, as everything is starting to come together, Steinmark appears to suffer an injury that might change his life.
Steinmark is played by Finn Wittrock, who you might recognize from his recurring role on AMERICAN HORROR STORY or from his recent role in THE BIG SHORT (2015) where he played Jamie Shipley. His performance in MY ALL AMERICAN is solid if a little forced at times, especially when working on some of the heavy emotional lifting. Wittrock clearly has the chops as there are scenes when Steinmark is coming through loud and clear and there is an effortlessness to his performance that defies your expectations… but in the same scene, sometimes in a different shot of the same moment, you can see something disconnect, a moment where it all falls apart, and the performance loses some of its luster for those disappointing moments.
Within moments of the opening you will be wondering if this isn’t another Rudy-esque movie that someone was just dying to get made when they saw the success of RUDY in the early 1990s… but when you consider the screenwriter was one in the same you start to wonder. Then there’s the film’s slightly unconventional structure. It seems to start with all the happy, everything is great feelings that usually come at the end of these inspirational flicks: another hint MY ALL AMERICAN isn’t going to be the same thing you’ve seen a hundred times before. This all works in the films favor and gives it a fresh feeling even though we are frequently treading ground we’ve trodden all too often in the past. It’s a nice effort in a genre that can, too easily, feel forced and boring.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The video quality and presentation of MY ALL AMERICAN is above average with some nice highs and lows but nothing fancy.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio quality on MY ALL AMERICAN is quite nice and especially immersive during the football scenes inside University of Texas stadium.
The Spirit of Freddie Steinmark (02:57) The cast and crew talk about Freddie Steinmark and why they wanted to work on MY ALL AMERICAN.
A Look Inside MY ALL AMERICAN (02:39) A cross between a trailer for MY ALL AMERICAN and an incredibly quick making of featurette. It’s very nicely done and is of surprisingly high quality.