Our Score: 2 out of 5 Stars
Sometimes after a come from behind win or a miraculous season in sports, you’ll hear the announcer utter the phrase, “You couldn’t have written a better ending.” Usually the coach or player saying this is describing the improbable odds they faced, but still overcame. Generally I don’t like the line because of how inherently silly it is since some of the best movies are about the impossible. This phrase could have been said during the events of “My All American”, but someone should have written a better script for it.
“My All American” follows Freddie Steinmark (Wittrock). His journey starts in Boulder, Colorado during the 60’s. Steinmark is a good natured Christian boy with aspirations about playing college football for Notre Dame and being drafted by an NFL team. His dreams are consistently hampered by everyone else around him who sees him as too short or too thin to stack up with other players on the gridiron, regardless of how dominant he is under the Friday night lights.
Darrell Royal (Eckhart), the coach for the University of Texas, is given some game tape of Steinmark and quickly recognizes the teen’s massive heart. He sees what we see, a boy who puts his heart and soul into everything and sometimes leaves it on the field. He offers him a scholarship and we slowly watch as Steinmark goes from a wide-eyed college freshman to a legitimate force on the Longhorn football team.
The main problem with “My All American” is the length and the pace at which it moves. The film seems transfixed with reminding us that we’re in the late 60’s and that the Vietnam War, hippies, and landing on the moon, were a thing. It also crams in a Wikipedia entry worth of unnecessary information about Steinmark like his high school sweetheart, his dad’s dreams and aspirations, his partner in crime throughout the whole movie, and a myriad of other things that don’t help the overall message.
“My All American” has the heart and soul we’ve seen in other sports movie, but it doesn’t deliver it in an entertaining or touching fashion. Angelo Pizzo, who wrote “Hoosiers” and “Rudy”, may have written a script that would be best suited as a televised re-enactment of real life events for PBS. It’s so unnecessarily dry at time, its sucks the juices out of the crisp sports sequences and the beauty that was Steinmark’s life. “My All American” feels more like a two hour long advertisement to enroll at the University of Texas.
A little bit of digging reveals that Steinmark was a real person and a genuine human being. The University of Texas still remembers that young man’s time with the football program and the impact he left behind. His story is one worth remembering if every giblet of human endearment and compassion is 100% true. I just wish it was condensed into a “30 for 30” on ESPN so that someone could have trimmed the unnecessary fat and hokey TV movie moments out.