Not the multiple-personality-disorder saga the title suggests, though not without its schizoid qualities, either, We Are Marshall is instead another giga-budget, connect-the-dots football movie that’s based on a true story and meant to inspire the bejesus out of us. That tale, about the devastating 1970 plane-crash deaths of nearly the entire football squad of West Virginia’s Marshall University, is ripe material. The film tracks the accident and subsequent rebuilding of the team under a new, outsider coach (McConaughey) and his shell-shocked veteran assistant (Fox), who are opposed by a bereaved local (the magnetic but miscast McShane). These events aren’t enough to sustain the two-hour running length, so director McG pads the plot with many familiar, decade-appropriate pop-tune montages.
That there’s little in the way of originality left in the genre isn’t just beside the point, though—it is the point. Despite getting the contours of the town’s slow-to-fade grief right and occasionally nailing the pathos (McConaughey and Mackie, as a hypervigilant surviving player, share a moving exchange), We Are Marshall is altogether content to traffic in bromides and clichs. Moreover, McConaughey’s uncanny Dubya impression here implies that screenwriters Jamie Linden and Cory Helms had something more jingoistic in mind. (Opens Fri 22; Click here for venues.)—Mark Holcomb