Invincible - Mark Wahlberg
If you've seen Rocky then you know the basic story here - but the brilliance with Invincible is that it's all true. Ironically, when the real life Vince Papale was just going through his transformation in the gritty streets of Philadelphia, Rocky had just come out - and some of his teammates and opponents would tease him by calling him "Rocky".
The brilliance of getting this on DVD is that you can hear the commentary track with the real Vince Papale giving his insight into what was happening throughout this time. The strikes were pulling the heart out of the locals. Vince's wife walked out on him. The Eagles kept losing. The people of Philly struggled on with a mixture of gut determination and faith.
Yes, it's a story of Vince - 30 years old, out of work, out of a relationship, making ends meet by tending bar, getting his one shot at a dream. But it's also the story of the whole area he lives in, how they are being beaten down and they still hang in there. Vince's neighbor invites him in and feeds him pasta. His dad and gang root for him every chance they can. Little kids make up jerseys with Vince's numbers on them.
It's funny how, for a sports movie, it actually is much more about the characters. My boyfriend loves football, but I'm not nearly as enthusiastic about the sport. We both really enjoyed watching this together. The soundtrack is gorgeous. The characters are gritty and real. They're not perfect - they're human with character and heart. As much as some Disney movies can feel very sappy, this one is encouraging without going overboard. These are real heartbreaks that happened - real obstacles that were overcome.
It's fascinating looking back to what football was like in the 70s. Vince explains that the team rooms really were that tiny - that the streets in Philly are narrow, the homes restrictive. The emotions and experiences were real. Mark Whalberg does most of his own football work here and takes some massive hits. The movie ends with clips of the real Papale and his teammates, turning their team from a losing one to a group that reached the Superbowl.
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