Before they could win, they had to become one.
Remember the Titans is a 2000 biographical sports film directed by Boaz Yakin, written by Gregory Allen Howard, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and Technical Black Films, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures. The film is based on the 1971 T.C. Williams Titans football season. It stars Denzel Washington and Will Patton. The film was not nominated for any Academy Awards.
"You make sure they remember, forever, the night they played the Titans!" -Coach Bill Yoast
In Virginia 1971, black football coach Herman Boone arrives and becomes the new head coach of T.C. Williams High School. His team consists of both black and white kids, who spend 2 weeks together in a brutal football camp, but become friends through the experience. Boone and the team must defy all odds and go undefeated throughout the season for the coach to keep his job.
I love Denzel Washington, and he absolutely nails his role in this film. He is so assertive and coach-like. He just hauls this entire movie on his back, and it was just so entertaining to watch him take this role and this movie and make everything so immersive and feel so real. One of the best scenes in the movie is when the team goes on a run to the graveyard of the Battle of Gettsyburg, and Denzel just speaks to his team and the audience as though they are one and the same.
I do have some problems with the story, which I'll touch on later, but the overall message is incredibly powerful and important. I think that the actual story itself is fantastic, and it really speaks out to a lot of audiences. If you have not seen this movie, go watch it right now. Especially now, with everything going on, you have to go watch this film. It talks about current issues that we all face, whether we are white or black. This movie has a great message, and it shows how no matter how racist you are, people change. Environments change. We need this environment to change right now, and it starts with becoming aware of stuff that is going on in our country. While watching Remember the Titans may not be protesting or doing something to support the black community, it is doing something. It is making yourself aware that these things happen in real life. Life isn't fair, and it should be. For everyone.
The movie has a very fluid pace. It starts off a little bit slow and immediately picks up pace when they go to camp. It starts with the team breaking out into fights and learning how to accept one another, and teventually evolves into a team that cares about each other, white and black, unconditionally. Gerry Bertier, the All-American linebacker on the Titans, who is white and initially racist, turns around and becomes best friends with Julius Campbell, who he consistently stands up for. Once the season starts, they bring in the news that Herman Boone (Denzel) is going to get fired if they lose a game. That adds stakes to the story, and it makes the movie even more urgent and faster paced. There are not moments past the first ten minutes when you are bored, and that is something that very few movies, especially sports movies, are able to pull off.
The chemistry between the team is great. There are so many memorable people on this team. From Blue and Petey to Sunshine and Louie, the actors and writing make these characters just pop on screen. They all do a complete 180, starting off as a mean, grumpy group of people that wants to play football to a loving team of people that are football players. 90% of the actors embrace their role, making it so believable and so inspiring. I am currently on a football team, and the chemistry feels exactly the same on the Titans as it does on mine.
The script is phenomenal. It really does some fantastic things. There are some laugh-out-loud moments as well as some legitimately emotional moments. They are usually elevated by the acting, but this movie would not be what it is with a bad script. The writers made it a powerful message, making sure that the story resonated with the audience.
The soundtrack is so lovable. There are tons of songs that sound like they are from Motown, and, being from Michigan, I was a huge fan. The characters are all jamming out to this 60s and 70s music, and I felt like them when they were dancing. It fit the tone and friendly feel of the movie, and it was a fantastic choice by the crew to include these songs.
The worst and most obvious thing is that this movie is painfully predictable. You know exactly what's going to happen, exactly when it is going to happen, and that is a big problem, whether you choose to harp on it or not. This movie is a biopic, so that can give it a bit of a bypass. It doesn't matter, though, because this writing and story set everything up perfectly in place so that you know what's going to happen to who and when it is going to happen.
Secondly, I don't think that Ryan Hurst and Wood Harris are good. It's more Harris than Hurst, and it is really disappointing, because, behind Denzel, they are the heart and soul of this film. These are the characters that change over training camp, and you need to see these actors fully devote everything into this role to make it feel right. They just don't do it. There are scenes where Wood Harris would whimper like a baby. There are scenes where Ryan Hurst would act incredibly stereotypical as the popular, hotshot football star, and he'd take it way too far.
Oh, yeah, and Will Patton is horrible. He displays no emotion and could be acting in a horror movie or a comedy movie. There is a sense of lifelessness that he brings when he enters on screen. He is also in Halloween as a cop chasing Michael Myers. This, a high school football coach, is nearly the same exact performance with different lines. He takes it way too seriously and sucks all the fun out of the movie.
Lastly, I think that Sheryl Yoast is just a horrible character. I don't understand why they'd have a ten-year old girl that is the daughter of a high school football coach take these games and practices so seriously. The worst part is that she is the narrator of the story, and it makes no sense. She shouldn't be a prominent character, because it is so unrealistic and so annoying.
With some acting problems and a predictable story holding it back, Remember the Titans succeeds in every other category and makes a successful, fun, and inspiring sports film.
I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Remember the Titans"
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Boaz Yakin
Rated PG for disturbing themes and behavior, mild language, and thematic elements
Released on September 23, 2000
1 hour and 53 minutes
Denzel Washington as Coach Herman Boone
Will Patton as Coach Bill Yoast
Ryan Hurst as Gerry Bertier
Wood Harris as Julius Campbell
Ethan Suplee as Louie Lastik
Donald Faison as Petey Jones
Craig Kirkwood as Jerry "The Rev" Harris
Kip Pardue as Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass
Hayden Panettiere as Sheryl Yoast
Ryan Gosling as Alan Bosley
Earl C. Poitier as Blue Stanton