Invincible: Another Great Sports Flick
by Alex Billington
August 24, 2006
Invincible is this year's Miracle set on a football field instead of a sheet of ice.
Invincible is an uplifting film set in the 1970's following the true story of Philadelphia Eagles' fan Vince Papale who ends up making the football team after open tryouts are held. Working through opposition from the players and the coach as well as his own doubts, he eventually helps the Eagles move out of a losing streak and gives all of the Eagles fans something to cheer for again.
Some may feel that sports movies have been a too often overdone genre that results in nothing but movies with the same ending and same stories. Although this is often the case, Disney is one of the few studios that is able to produce films that stand out from the typical plethora. Largely based on the excellent movie Miracle, Disney pulls together great production and fantastic performances from the cast and crew all around, and Invincible is no exception. Invincible compared quite similarly to Miracle, with a story of players as they got cut by a compassionate coach to form a team, and a coach with a wife who helped him find his true direction. The only differences were that it was a football field instead of an ice rink, and Philadelphia instead of Lake Placid. Despite this connection, Invincible lived up on its own as a great story of success.
Although it's understandable that the film was centralized in the area of Philadelphia, it needed more of an emotional experience on a wider scale. There was a brief scene where a group of children were playing football and one ran by wearing a homemade jersey with Vince's number on it. This type of emotional uplift adds to the satisfaction of success in the end, but there wasn't enough of it. I wanted to cheer out loud in the theater when it showed people all around Philadelphia smiling and cheering with Vince near the end. Although it did have some shots of various people smiling with success, I wasn't able to experience the widespread full-scale level of emotional pride that could have been possible.
Mark Wahlberg delivered a stellar performance as Vince Papale as a character full of not only doubt but eventually hope. However, the best performance in Invincible was from Vince's friend Tommy, played by Kirk Acevedo. Although he only fulfilled a supporting role, he was the best friend and often wise supporter of Vince. Johnny, played by Dov Davidoff, a constant drunk and soft-spoken bar regular, also brings a strong emotional character to the mix. Most of Vince's friends from the local bar were incredible characters played by great actors who helped strengthen his connection to the true fans. Except for jumping between accents, Elizabeth Banks' beauty and charm also graced the screen as a fan of the Eagles' rival team the New York Giants and Vince's eventual love interest Janet. I can't leave off without mentioning Greg Kinnear as Coach Dick Vermeil as well: another solid performance from one of the many great actors in Invincible.
Invincible ends on a somewhat abrupt note and shows some real-life footage of Vince Papale and Coach Dick Vermeil. This is an interesting choice for an ending, as it seemed like it stopped short of reaching a full conclusion. In lieu of explaining the ending of the film (as this is what you need to go see to experience), I almost wished there was more to it. But in the same, if it had gone on further to more football games it may have lost its excitement and slowly entered into boredom.
This is another great story of hope and success. Disney is at the very top notch of sports films based on real-life events, and this is another one to add to their list of excellent productions. Although the story is a similar experience to Miracle, many fans of football and/or the Philadelphia Eagles will see the heart in this movie and feel the emotion in the same way Vince Papale did himself. Invincible is only one step down from Miracle, but in itself still a fantastic story of heart and pride worth seeing on the big screen.