Gridiron Gang
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

Cast: The Rock, Xzibit, Vanessa Ferlito, Leon Rippy, Kevin Dunn. Drama/sports. Written by Jeff Maguire. Directed by Phil Joanou.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A detention camp probation officer creates a high-school-level football team from a ragtag group of dangerous teenage inmates as a means to teach them self-respect and social responsibility. Of course, our hero must first overcome universal resistance from his skeptical bosses and the coaches at rival high schools who dont want their players mixing it up with convicted criminals.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Despite every clich known to the genre, Gridiron Gang is an engrossing boys-to-men football adventure. What makes it work? The Rock. By now we have discovered that Dwayne The Rock Johnson isnt just another incredible hulk. Hes a fine actor, sensitive and with a self-effacing sense of humor. Here he is more than believable as the tough but concerned officer/coach/mentor.

There are positive lessons aimed at young urban males concerning the sanctity of life and the need to break from the abuse that often surrounds them. (This has been a recurring theme in many films this year.) The on-field action scores for the intended audience with its constant crunching sounds and slo-mo visuals of assaultive tackles. And the films violence is included to further the story rather than for exploitive purposes. Alas, one problem: the language. Its difficult to escape its inclusion, as rough language is an element of life for many coming from the hood and evidently nearly every filmmaker. But filmmakers should remember that its simply not artistic for those who consider themselves artists to excessively use obscene language simply because its an easy way to express frustration. And there is no excuse for the coach, the leader of these young men, to be profaning Gods name, which The Rock does throughout.

If you do not wish to support a film where the lead character misuses both Gods name and Christs, then allow me to suggest an alternative: Invincible (still in theaters at the time of this review). Inspired by the true story of Vince Papale and Dick Vermeil, the new head coach of the Philly Eagles, its the best sports film Ive seen since The Rookie. The football sequences are involving, as are the lead performances. Invincibles positive themes include caring and sacrificing for others, and following the impossible dream.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: A couple of crude comments as the inmates refer to scantily clad women.
Obscene Language: Throughout. Around 30 uses of the s-word, one of the f-word, 3or four of SOB and a few I wont even mention here. Also there is an excessive number of expletives (damns, hells and the like). The N-word is used several times, once by a white guy, but mostly by Blacks.
Profanity: 4 misuses of Christs name and 5 uses of Gods name followed by a curse.
Violence: Several shootings, with four characters being gunned down. Protecting his abused mother, a teen shoots and kills her boyfriend. There are several fight scenes. Though this action is brutal, its there to depict the rough world these kids come from. Blood: Some, as we see three dead bodies.
Sexual Intercourse: None, but we do see several cheerleaders in revealing costumes.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A couple of crude comments as the inmates refer to scantily clad women.
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Theres a positive portrayal of a Christian. Hes a coach and when reminded of Christs directive to have mercy, he supports the convicted teens.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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