Dave's Rating:

4.0

… really effective and moving.

Who's in It: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Ian McShane, Anthony Mackie, David Strathairn, Brian Geraghty, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kate Mara

The Basics: The 1970 Marshall University football team, including coaches and boosters, died in a plane crash in November of that year. This is the mostly true version of what happened after the crash — meaning that some of the stuff (and a couple of the composite characters) didn't happen at all.

What's the Deal? Technically, this is about football — but it's mostly about people grieving triumphantly. I know that sounds harsh, but it's kind of by the numbers like that. You don't notice it while you're watching, because it's really effective and moving. But after you're done, you realize it's mostly effective and moving because other movies have gone down that road before many times. I'm trying not to sound like a jerk here because the story really is very sad, and it got me all teary-eyed, too. I guess feeling a little manipulated is part of the experience.

Sometimes People Surprise You: I liked McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. And then I never thought much of him again. I'm also repelled by the version of his "real" self that he presents to magazines, Oprah and other PR outlets. Something about him seems relentlessly fake and aw-shucks smarmy. So right now, I will eat a small handful of my past unkind words and say that I liked his enthusiasm and actorly heartfelt-itude in this movie. Also the weird 1971 hair. I dug that, too.

The Thing I Appreciated Most: It doesn't sugarcoat that the rebuilt team stayed a mostly losing one for the next dozen years. Points for that.

Dear Viewers Who Are Afraid to Fly: If you're like me and beyond terrified to get on an airplane, you will not enjoy the first 15 minutes. Just a warning. I hear director McG is one of us, too, which is kind of weird. Maybe directing it was therapeutic for him. Xanax and Ambien are my therapies.

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