Jerry Bruckheimer may have been too busy wrangling his Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to personally lavish on Invincible the pumped-up crassness of Remember the Titans or Glory Road, but this fact-based gridiron feel-gooder proves how capably Disney has assimilated the pandering formula. Then again, the studio has always gravitated toward the underdog, and director Ericson Core’s football drama offers a perfect specimen: Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a part-time barkeep and failure-magnet who attends the Philadelphia Eagles tryouts during the team’s dismal 1976 slump and lives out the dream of every fan by being handed a chance by newly hired Coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear). For a film that follows every step in the fumbling-start-to-rousing-climax formula like chalk marks on the floor, Invincible is mercifully low on testosterone and sometimes surprisingly sensitive to its characters’ working-class textures; shut-down factories, unemployment lines, and prole strikes feature prominently, unfortunately only to be glazed by Core’s top ’70s hits nostalgia. Given the actor’s Boogie Nights wig, Wahlberg’s Papale could be how Dirk Diggler might have turned out had he never caught Burt Reynolds’s eye, though any intriguing similarities between porn actors and athletes is not to be pursued; lyrical slow-mo is reserved for the muddy touchdown session with the boys, and the hero’s wooing of scrappy New York gal (and Giants fan, of course) Elizabeth Banks is chastely curtained before any Diggler-like talent can be unfurled. What’s left is an inoffensive, instantly forgettable guy-weepie, equipped with Wahlberg’s puppyish earnestness, Core’s pedestrian football sequences, and a bizarrely golden ’70s evocation, embalmed in the kind of amber more fitting for the 1890s Vienna of The Illusionist.
- Ericson Core
- Brad Gann
- Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli, Kirk Acevedo, Dov Davidoff, Michael Kelly, Sal Darigo, Nicoye Banks, Turron Kofi Alleyne, Michael Nouri
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