Any Given Sunday

1999, Movie, R, 165 mins


An extremely loud, often brutally realistic meditation on the power of money and testosterone in pre-millenial America. Oliver Stone looks at contemporary pro football with the cynicism of NORTH DALLAS FORTY plus the technical effects he pioneered in NATURAL BORN KILLERS: mis-matched film stocks, faster-than-the-eye cutting, pulverizing sound and music. Stone isn't grinding an axe as loudly as usual here, but he remains one of our least subtle filmmakers. As entertaining as much of the movie undeniably is, the story is slight for its length (most astute viewers will have predicted the ROCKY-esque fate of Stone's fictional Miami Sharks before the appearance of the Warner Brothers logo) and, as usual, his characters are somewhere between clich├ęs and archetypes. Fortunately, by way of compensation, Stone handles his huge ensemble cast extremely well, getting terrific old-fashioned movie star turns from Al Pacino as a burnt-out head coach, Jim Brown as his philosophical assistant, Cameron Diaz as the ruthlessly bottom-line oriented team owner, Ann-Margret as her alcoholic mother, Jamie Foxx as a quarterback who hits the big time too fast, and Matthew Modine and James Woods as team doctors with radically different medical ethics. Stone also gets some great work around the edges from Lauren Holly, who's amazing as a sports wife from hell, and from SHOWGIRLS laugh riot Elizabeth Berkely, who's charming (and all but unrecognizable) as a hooker/groupie. Former New York Giants star Lawrence Taylor, however, nearly steals the picture in the small but pivotal role of a blocker putting his life, literally, on the line. leave a comment --Steve Simels

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