New York Times - 09/15/2006
"GRIDIRON GANG gains significant momentum from Jeff Cutter's amped-up photography, most notably on the gridiron itself."
Sight and Sound - 03/01/2007
"[The Rock's] committed performance is mostly external....But there is also introspection..."
In 1990, coaches Sean Porter and Malcolm Moore took the Kilpatrick Mustangs--a football team of hard-core juvenile offenders from California's Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention center--through their inaugural season, in which they reached the regional championships. In 1993, an Emmy-winning documentary, GRIDIRON GANG, aired on U.S. television. In this fictionalized version of the same name, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as Porter, the coach who uses sports as a means to instill self-esteem into a group or boys for whom crime is a way of life.
A former troubled youth who used football as a means to stay off of the streets, Porter, along with Malcolm Moore (Xibit) now presides over Camp Kilpatrick, where the inmates are gang members, murderers, and drug dealers. Among them are Willie Weathers (Jade York), a gang member doing time for a botched act of revenge. Showing that old rivalries hold true even away from the streets, fellow inmate and rival gang member Calvin Owens (David Thomas) won't let Willie forget that they are sworn enemies. But once Porter introduces football as an outlet, the common goal of winning unites them in ways that no one expected. Sports films are not known for harboring O-Henry-like twists at their conclusions, and GRIDIRON GANG is no exception, but director Phil Joanou (STATE OF GRACE) keeps the proceedings gritty (especially for a PG-13 rating), giving us not only the uplifting and exciting football sequences, but also a handful of heart-pounding--and somewhat graphic--scenes of gang violence, and former Yes member Trevor Rabin's effective score is a nice alternative to the typical pop soundtrack. Not all sweetness and light, GRIDIRON GANG is fine addition to the realm of cinematic sports, leavening the sap with a copious counter-dose of realism.
Description by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment:
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in this gritty and inspirational movie based on a true story of a group of teenage delinquents given a second chance to redeem themselves by playing football. Sean Porter (Johnson) is a frustrated juvenile probation officer. Most of the kids in his detention camp are either sent back to prison once they leave or meet a violent end when they return to the streets. Desperately looking for a way to make a difference, he and his co-worker Malcolm Moore (Xzibit, TV's "Pimp My Ride") devise a plan to teach discipline and responsibility through the game of football. But with only four weeks before the start of the season, Porter must overcome insurmountable odds to put together a competitive team. It's a season that will test their minds, spirit, and bodies as Porter teaches his players the principles of good character, strength through resiliency, and genuine respect for one another.
Football Players |
Theatrical Release |