One of our favorite gridiron films, and one of our 7 football movies that score a touchdown, is Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday.
The film is celebrating its 15th anniversary by landing on Blu-Ray with a snazzy upgrade that features the football film that shows the game unlike any other movie has before in the highest definition sound and picture.
The story of Any Given Sunday follows a pro team, the Miami Sharks, as they embark on what will prove to be a challenging season. Their starting quarterback (Dennis Quaid) gets hurt almost immediately and that forces the head coach (Al Pacino) to go to his back-up, the soon to be a sensation played by Jamie Foxx. Pacino and Foxx butt heads, but eventually come to an understanding in this no holds barred look at life in the NFL.
And given the horrible headlines that the league has had of late, one can see why when they have a case of art imitating life too closely, they stay away. The NFL wanted nothing to do with this movie almost two decades ago and thus why all the teams have pretend names instead of the real ones.
This is Stone after all and he is nothing if not pointed with his opinions and thus, his cameras. His take on a game that he clearly loves in Any Given Sunday is pure awesomeness. Stone even gets to deliver a few of his thoughts on the state of the game (which ironically has not changed much in the last 15 years) directly as he cast himself as a play-by-play announcer for the Miami Sharks.
The supporting cast is astounding and they are given much to work with with these riveting Any Given Sunday quotes.
LL Cool J rocks as a running back with an incentive-laden contract who needs more carries to get properly paid. Cameron Diaz comes into her own as an over-her-head owner who inherited the team from her rich daddy, and James Woods is his usual stellar self as the sleazy team doctor who in one characterization showcases what’s wrong with the game from a concern for the players’ health aspect.
Those ongoing problems with concussions that have former all-stars like Jim McMahon suing the league because of his brain injuries? Just check out the story line from 15 years ago with Lawrence Taylor’s character and his taking hit after hit when he clearly should not be on the field.
The Any Given Sunday upgrade on this anniversary edition director’s cut Blu-Ray is impressive. The picture quality is practically as pure as the sea blue waters that surround the South Florida city where the film takes place.
There are brand new bonus features including Anything Can Happen, which features former NFL stars including Marshall Faulk and Willie McGinest adding their two cents as to the authenticity of Stone’s movie. Former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci and current Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even offer their thoughts.
The director's commentary has to be another highlight. We’ve interviewed Oliver Stone and he is as well spoken as he is opinionated and to get his thoughts on a movie he clearly is so proud of is a priceless addition to the experience of actually watching the narrative of his film.
We even adore the Jamie Foxx track. Remember, this is before Foxx was the Oscar winner he is now. Stone gave the comic a chance in the breakout role as the brash QB and Foxx hit it out of the park. Hearing his take on the experience is brilliant.
The HBO-produced doc Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday is a 27-minute look at making the film from back in the day and the previously released deleted and extended scenes are also a nice touch. Oh, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the inclusion of the music videos for LL Cool J's Shut Em Down and Foxx's My Name is Willie and Any Given Sunday.
Also of interest to fans of the movie would be the audition and screen test features that show a (much younger) Foxx auditioning for his first truly big role!
The best part of this 15th anniversary Blu-Ray edition is that it is the director’s cut. The film you watch is how Stone intended it. Period.
Watch Any Given Sunday online now, and you’ll see why the flick remains one of our faves.