I used to really love inspirational sports movies. But that was back in the day when I only read Sports Illustrated and could sit through 3 full football games on a Sunday. Times have changed and I’m a lot more critical of the inspirational sports movie now. Had this movie been put out 15 years ago, I would have loved it. But now, it felt like it was lacking some punch. Overall, Invincible isn’t bad. But it isn’t great either.
I’m not sure how accurate the movie is. I know it is based on the true life of Vince Papale, a nobody who gets a shot with the Philadelphia Eagles and makes the team. But considering how inconsequential the Eagles were at the time, I’m not familiar with the story too much. It also takes place in the year before I was born. And I did spend a lot of the time thinking, “it doesn’t matter. Through the whole 1976 season, nobody can hold a candle to my Raiders.” Accurate or not, the story is still missing something.
They take an inspirational story and try to give it some oomph by focusing on the recession and really turning it into a “local boy makes good against all odds” thing. But they also try to make you think that he’s losing touch with his roots and becoming aloof. This would have been a lot more believable if the character wasn’t constantly going back to his old neighbourhood and hanging out in his old bar. That isn’t the only drama that they attempt only to have it fall flat. There is no relationship development between Papale and his father or Janet Cantrell. It could have been a football movie or a relationships movie. They didn’t fulfill either.
The good thing about the film is the authenticity of the era. I felt that the props, costumes and sets were all done very, very well. It is also very well cast. Mark Wahlberg is a star that has the ability to make you believe he is an everyman. He plays humble very well. This is also the first time that Elizabeth Banks has been on a screen that didn’t make me want to put my foot through it. Finally, Greg Kinnear really played Dick Vermeil well. I found that I never took notice that it was Kinnear (like I did with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe in Moneyball). He made you believe the character.
So, overall, it’s a good movie to see. But the story is a bit flat and it’s one of the few times I would say they could have made a movie longer and it would have been better. That would have allowed for more character and relationship development. While there are better inspirational sports movies out there (Rudy, The Rookie), I would still say See it. Especially because it should be cheap to watch by now.