remember the titans(2000)
director: boaz yakin
denzel washington, will patton

. You’ll need more than a play-by-play to understand the field action in the new football film, Remember the Titans

Bodies slam into other bodies with grisly, overmiked thuds, and the only way to figure out who’s winning is to wait for the inevitable shot of the scoreboard. Occasionally one of the characters -- say the coach, played by Denzel Washington --  will say something like “Go for a reverse blast with a full George!” This makes everything much clearer, of course.

It’s the end of the sixties, and the civil rights era has brought busing to T.C. Williams, a Southern high school with a championship football team. Affirmative action brings Denzel Washington to the school to take over coaching duties, which doesn’t sit well with Coach Yoast, the eminently qualified man who has been waiting for the job, played by Will Patton, or the good ol’ boys on the school board or on the team.

Washington integrates the team during the course of one, brutal, boot-camp style summer football camp, and he and Patton become friends. There’s tragedy, of course, and touching moments where the boys on the team learn to overcome their prejudice, mostly by singing along with Temptations songs, the musical glue of Boomer society since The Big Chill. The team goes on a winning streak, of course, and this brings the white parents and townsfolk on side. If only Martin Luther King knew what a bit of testosterone-crazed adolescent male aggression could accomplish.

Apparently based on a true story, Remember the Titans shows Washington playing a familiar role -- the righteous, inspiring crusader against America’s racial illness. It’s a role he plays well, but you sometimes wish that he’d find time for a character a bit less noble, a bit more basically flawed.