Any Given Sunday

on December 22, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
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It's not surprising that the National Football League refused to grant the producers of "Any Given Sunday" permission to use its trademarks. Oliver Stone's vision/version of the professional sport depicts its players, coaches and orthopedics slaves to the almighty dollar and the power that comes with it, willing to sacrifice their loyalties, integrity and careers to make a few more bucks and score with a few more chicks.
Coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) is in the twilight of his career, struggling to hold his Miami Sharks together with an aging quarterback (Dennis Quaid) while the organization's ruthless owner (Cameran Diaz), the daughter of the man with whom he built a championship team, vows to make any cuts necessary. While his first-string quarterback sits out due to a debilitating back injury, third-stringer Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) leads the team to much-needed victories, losing himself in the flood of popularity and endorsements in the process.
Stone brands "Any Given Sunday" with his trademark extreme close-ups and disorienting hand-held camerawork, creating a position for the audience right on the field where it can hear every call and feel every hit. He also exaggeratedly elevates these men to warrior status, juxtaposing their battles with footage from "Ben Hur."
Still, he doesn't take himself too seriously, recognizing the irrelevance of the post-game prayer and Willie's shamelessly self-promotional music videos. And amidst all the drama, there are comedic moments, such as the Sharks' version of the self-congratulatory end zone dance the Dirty Bird, the metal-vs.-rap locker room debate and the loose crocodile in the shower.
But aside from its nauseating testosterone level, "Any Given Sunday's" biggest flaw is its lack of NFL sponsorship, forcing it to resort to silly team names, sillier uniforms and, the silliest of all, calling the Big One the, uh, Pantheon Bowl. Starring Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J. Directed by Oliver Stone. Written by John Logan and Oliver Stone. Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Dan Halsted and Clayton Townsend. A Warner Bros. release. Drama. Rated R for language and nudity. Running time: 163 min
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