Never give up. That's the theme of American Underdog, the amazing and inspiring true story of how Kurt Warner went from not being drafted out of college, to winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. I should have known that this movie coming to Digital around the same time as the Super Bowl (featuring the now, LA Rams) that it was a bad omen for the Cincinnati Bengals, but I digress. American Underdog is about football, but is it a football movie? Will your sports-loving kids enjoy it? I'm breaking down the plot, the PG rating and sharing my overall thoughts in my no-spoilers review of American Underdog.
Disclaimer: I was given access to American Underdog free for review. All thoughts an opinions are my own.
American Underdog | No-Spoilers Movie Review
American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback.
The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player – but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination.
Based on the Book “All Things Possible” by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver. Screenplay by Jon Erwin & David Aaron Cohen and Jon Gunn. Directed by The Erwin Brothers.
Related: Clifford The Big Red Dog | No-Spoilers, Parent Review
American Underdog | Review
Kurt Warner's story is one that deserved to be told on film. The determination he had to stay the course and pursue his dream after all of the challenges he faced is absolutely commendable. He never gave up and it certainly paid off.
The story behind the film is wonderful. Unfortunately, the film has some challenges.
For starters, Zachery Levi, while he is a very good actor, appears to be a bit too old to play a role of someone who is meant to be just out of college.
Now, I grew up watching Grease, so I am no stranger to actors playing roles way out of their age range but, as the movie progressed and Kurt got older, Levi's appearance didn't really change. As a viewer I didn't feel like we got the transition from "college kid" to grown man that we should have gotten.
Another problem that plagues this film is the length.
American Underdog has a run time of 1 hour and 52 minutes and it feels every bit of 1 hour and 52 minutes. There is some action when we see Levi on the field but, for a movie based around football, the scenes on the field were too few and far between for my personal taste.
Related: A Mouthful of Air Review
There is a lot to unpack here. First there is Kurt in his last year of college hoping against hope to get drafted by a NFL team.
While we build to that change-your-life-phone-call, we see Kurt meet Brenda and subsequently her two children. Which brings in the idea of this straight out of college "kid" becoming a father figure and the challenges that can bring.
Pepper in some financial hardships and deaths in the family, and you realize why the film is 1 hour and 52 minutes long.
For kids who like football, they may find the story interesting but they may also find it hard to follow, given all of the "off-filed" plot devices.
The PG Rating
American Underdog is rated PG for "some language and thematic elements".
The language here is pretty mild, and rarely used. Terms I did hear included "damn" and "hell".
As far as thematic elements, there are scenes in a bar with drinking, there are implied deaths due to a weather event and we see Warner/Levi take some hard hits on the filed.
Related: Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park | No-Spoilers, Parent Review
My Overall Thoughts
Is it even a sports movie if Dennis Quaid doesn't show up? I'm thinking, no.
Dennis Quaid plays St. Louis Rams head coach, Dick Vermeil and while it is understandable why he wasn't seen for the first half of the movie, I so wish we could have had more Dennis Quaid in this film.
No film ever suffered from too much Dennis Quaid. I mean, the man just shines in sports films! He was built for giving pep talks.
In addition to Quaid, another bright spot in American Underdog is up and coming actor, Hayden Zaller. Zaller plays Brenda's son, Zack and like his character, he is blind. The bond between Zack and Kurt is beautiful and Levi and Zaller make for some really heartfelt on-screen moments.
As I mentioned, for a film based around football, the on-field scenes are lacking but the few we do get are great!
I especially liked the excitement built around Kurt's first on-filed plays as a Ram; seeing Brenda in the stands, his friends watching from the bar at home and his former coworker at the grocery store realizing he too could do anything, was goosebump inducing. It is during these on-field moments that American Underdog shines and really feels like a sports film.
American Underdog Age Recommendation: 8+
The film is rated PG and is certainly mild in terms of adult matters however, this sports movie is not fast paced and I don't believe it will hold the interest of younger children, even those who love football.
American Underdog teaches an important lesson of perseverance and never letting go of a dream. Kurt Warner's story shows that if you have a solid support system off the filed you can achieve almost anything on it.
American Underdog is available on Digital now and comes to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & DVD on February 22nd.
4K Ultra HD/ Blu-ray/ DVD/ Digital Special Features: