You don’t have to be a Notre Dame football fan to fall for “Rudy,” and you didn’t have to have Indiana hoop dreams to get all sentimental over “Hoosiers.”
But Angelo Pizzo, the guy who scripted those films and who wrote-and-directed the deathly-dull football melodrama “My All American” makes it damn near impossible to like, geographically.
It’s a true story (like his earlier films) set in the the alternate reality of Texas and Texas football. This “Brian’s Song” among the Longhorns is a heaping helping of schmaltz that’s mighty hard to swallow.
Finn Wittrock stars as Freddie Steinmark, an undersized, lightly-recruited defensive back for the powerhouse University of Texas football team. He is “Mr. Outside” and his best friend (Rett Terrell) is “Mr. Inside” on that vaunted defense.
The Vietnam War as raging, Nixon was the incoming president, college football was a largely segregated affair, and legendary coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart at his stiffest) was keeping a stiff upper lip as he turned his young men into national champions.
“I might be wrong,” he grouses at one point, “but I’m not confused.”
Freddie, his gutsiest player, was a key to that rise. Oddly, when Freddie is injured, the coach is confused about what to do.
“I promise, coach. I will not let you down.”
He keeps playing. His girlfriend, the paler-than-pale Linda (Sarah Bolger) may wonder, “Why are you limping so badly?”
“I’m not going to miss the season, Linda!”
And so he doesn’t.
The story bores you to tears until it takes its tragic turn. And the tragedy, infuriating and laughable to think of in the context of Texas medicine and Texas priorities (football uber alles), never adds up to anything more than a tearless weeper.
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, language and brief partial nudity
Cast: Finn Wittrock, Aaron Eckhart, Robin Tunney, Sarah Bolger
Credits: Written and directed by Angelo Pizzo. A Clarius release.
Running time: 1:58