The Express

Movies
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The inspirational-sports-movie template seems capable of absorbing almost any set of facts and coming out with the same basic uplift. Take the case of Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the coveted Heisman Trophy, in 1961. Playing at a time when most college-football teams were lily-white, Davis (Brown) faces openly expressed racism from opposing squads and subtler racism from his own coach (Quaid), whose argument that he’s trying to protect his black players by keeping them on the bench in hostile games rings hollow. Davis exercises remarkable patience, and when he’s pushed to his limit, he expresses his anger in earnest, measured words. He’s pretty close to sports sainthood.

It’s a great story, but the movie has to bend a few things to make it fit the standard arc. First, the climactic game in which Davis faces down Texas bigots was not played the year he won the Heisman. Second, fixated on the uplift, director Gary Fleder has to rush Davis’s sad ending (he died of leukemia before he ever got to play in the NFL). We’re not asking for another Brian’s Song, but does Davis’s tale have to seem like a rehash of Remember the Titans?

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Details

Release details

Rated:
PG
Release date:
Friday October 10 2008
Duration:
129 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Gary Fleder
Screenwriter:
Charles Leavitt
Cast:
Rob Brown
Dennis Quaid
Darrin Dewitt Henson
Omar Benson Miller
Nelsan Ellis
Charles S. Dutton
Aunjanue Ellis
Saul Rubinek

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