American Football, or Grid Iron, certainly has its place in the world of recognised sports. During its culmination each year in the Superbowl®™ (or Grand Final), advertising can get as steep as two million dollars for a 30 second slot. And these commercials are the highlighted feature of what is, really, just another game of football.
This goes to show the mentality of many Americans regarding football. There are those who are wholly mental about it, but they can also be easily dissuaded by the sparkling baubles and bright, pretty colours of advertising.
The Last Game is a documentary about American Football. Not in the big leagues, but at the high school level where players are constantly being watched by the major league teams wishing to spirit away another teenager from a small town life to fame and rigorous training. Told from the heart in a fashion that would most likely have the Yanks enthralled, here in Australia the documentary falls on its arse a little and needs the sponge boy to come out and help it up. While Grid Iron has its fans here, and even I enjoy the occasional game (though it took me three or four hours to narrow down the rules), I can’t see this rather gung-ho-American-life-aren’t-we-the-best doco being enjoyed all that much here.
We follow the exploits of America's greatest high school team, the Central Bucks West. They are coached by the supreme overlord of coaches Mike Pettine Sr., who is attempting to take them to the finals and maintain an inordinately long undefeated streak. However, this final game of the season, this Last Game, will see Mike Pettine Sr. come up against the second best team in the state, who are coached by Mike Pettine Jr.
I won’t tell you who wins, but I’ll tell you that Mike Pettine Sr. is coaching his final year at Central Bucks West. Will the torch be passed on or will Pettine Sr. go out in a blaze of glory? To be honest, I’d kinda gone beyond caring by this point. And this is the Director’s Cut. I can only imagine what the regular version was like.
To its credit though, it does feature some fantastic camerawork during the football matches, but as a documentary it concentrates mostly on the Pettine family with football almost playing second fiddle to the battle royale between the father and son coaches. The overall competitive nature of the coaches and their teams to be the best rings as almost offensive in its directness and this gives cause for consideration. Are the teams striving to be the best because the coach wants them to, or are they all pursuing a dream of football heroism in the big leagues? Or, do they just want to prove they’re the best and everyone else, like, totally sucks? Or, do they just wanna pick up head cheerleader Brandy for some shenanigans out by the lake?
Whatever the cause, this sport is viewed very differently than it is here in Australia. With our football we may get competitive, we aren’t so objectifying in our wishes of glory. Most people I know who play sport do it for fun and hanging out with friends and the beer afterward. I know I do.
I guess if you’re looking for some motivational film to inspire your team or whatever, you could do worse than this, but frankly I found it a true yawner and not as tense or exciting as the cover makes it out to be. This isn’t fiction, this is real life, and that does get tedious when the characters are folks you’ve never met, live a life you don’t understand and you couldn’t really give a flying fish about the sport in question.
Dialogue is like Boot Camp throughout, with half the statements by players and coaches yelled or cursed at the earth. Adam Sandler’s Waterboy doesn’t turn up at any point, so there aren’t any real laughs here either. There are occasional moments of vulgarity that don’t get censored by this E rating (Exempt from classification due to the documentary nature) so beware of that if you are offended by such stuff.
Music supervisor Robert Walker does all manner of musical bits and pieces here to fit with the themes, but there’s no real score being a documentary that is almost wholly dialogue driven. The surrounds don’t do much and the subwoofer adds depth to the music and crowds (and occasional yelling) but also sits on the bench for most of the game. It’s all brought to us by our good friends at Dolby Digital utilising their special 2.0 mono mix.
This one is strictly for the fans of American football. I had an idea it may appeal to my general malaise and uninspired life, but unfortunately no, it didn’t. There is just too much good ol’ USA running throughout and while that may fly great in the States, here it is almost embarrassing. Add to that the crappy NTSC delivery and you've got an ordinary release of epic magnitude.
(Many thanks to Robert P. who brought some misleading statements in this review to my attention).