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Movie Review

Oliver Stone Hits 'Em Again, Harder! Harder!

In over-the-top style, the director mythologizes pro football.

December 22, 1999|KENNETH TURAN | TIMES FILM CRITIC

Fleshing out the picture are lots of awfully familiar roles, like the craven sportswriter (John C. McGinley), the long-suffering girlfriend (Lela Rochon), the scheming wife (Lauren Holly), the running back in love with his own statistics (LL Cool J), the ruthless team orthopedist (James Woods) and the more idealistic internist (Matthew Modine). NFL veterans like Jim Brown playing defensive coordinator Montezuma Monroe and Lawrence Taylor as defensive captain Luther "Shark" Lavay also get in the act, and Stone has even given himself a cameo as a TV color commentator.

All acquit themselves well enough, and in any case memorable acting is not what this picture is all about. Still, "Any Given Sunday" does err in casting Pacino as the old school coach. Yes, he can yell when he has to, which is often. But Pacino is so self-centered an actor he has difficulty conveying a believable interest in other people, specifically the players, that great coaches, no matter how egomaniacal, must have. Stone and company are right, it is a jungle out there, and even warriors need someone who cares on their side.

* MPAA rating: R for strong language and some nudity/sexuality. Times guidelines: The locker room talk is very graphic plus a glimpse of full-frontal male locker room nudity; not for young sports fans.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

'Any Given Sunday'

Al Pacino: Coach Tony D'Amato

Cameron Diaz: Christina Pagniacci

Dennis Quaid: Jack "Cap" Rooney

James Woods: Dr. Harvey Mandrake

Jamie Foxx: Willie Beamen

LL Cool J: Julian Washington

Jim Brown: Montezuma Monroe

Lawrence Taylor: Luther "Shark" Lavay

Matthew Modine: Dr. Ollie Powers

An Ixtlan/the Donners' Co. Production, distributed by Warner Bros. Director Oliver Stone. Producers Lauren Shuler Donner, Dan Halsted, Clayton Townsend. Executive producers Richard Donner, Oliver Stone. Screenplay John Logan and Oliver Stone. Screen story Daniel Pyne and John Logan. Cinematographer Salvatore Totino. Editors Tom Nordberg, Keith Salmon, Stuart Waks, Stuart Levi. Costumes Mary Zophres. Music Robbie Robertson, Paul Kelly, Richard Horowitz. Production designer Victor Kempster. Art director Derek Hill. Set decorators Ron Weiss, Ford Wheeler. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

In general release.

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