"The point is I'm trying to fucking get paid. That's the point."
— J-Man Washington
"You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That's part of life."A 1999 American Football film, starring (among others) Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, and Jamie Foxx. Directed by Oliver Stone, so think The Replacements (2000) meets Natural Born Killers.An ailing professional football franchise suddenly loses its first and second string quarterbacks to injury, and third stringer Willie Beamen (Foxx) gets a shot at glory when he becomes the team's starter for the remainder of the regular season. Along the way, the movie takes a long, unflinching look at various aspects of pro football: huge egos, playing hurtnote , sacrifice, and getting old. This is punctuated by some freakin' intense scenes of the game....add up all those inches...
— Tony D'Amato
This film provides examples of:
- Achilles' Heel: Cap's back injury and Shark's improperly healed neck. Subverted in the case of Willie's shoulder. It's hinted throughout the film that his arm could soon give out, but it never does at any point on screen, and he doesn't tell D'Amato about it before he's named the starting QB at his new team.
- Badass Boast: Delivered frequently and early.Unnamed Linebacker: "Beamen! Beamen! I want you to take a good look at me, imma be the next motherfucker to knock you out!"Linebacker #2: "Best buckle up, it's gonna be a long day today!"Same linebacker, seconds later after smearing Beamen: "Best get used to this, motherfucker, imma be picking peanuts outta your ass!"
- Based on a True Story: The corrupt team physician subplot was inspired by the 1980s L.A. Raiders.
- Berserk Button: Shark finds out that Willie has been ripping the defense. He responds by cutting Willie's car in half!
- Big Game: Subverted, in that they lose the actual championship... during the credits. The fact that they go the distance and make it to the championship is powerful enough. Like Rocky.
- The Cameo: Several famous football personalities, such as Johnny Unitas and Terrell Owens.
- Cap Rooney's house is actually the real life house of Dan Marino.
- Captain Ersatz: Averted; when the NFL refused to let the film use their rights, the film's league was retooled as an alternative league existing alongside the NFL, rather than as an Ersatz for the main American pro football league.
- This actually becomes a plot point: one of the reasons Christina can't get the city of Miami to pay for a new stadium is because of the Dolphins.
- Chekhov's Gun: Shark's broken neck.
- Cap's back injury as well. Subverted with Beamen's shoulder. It looks like it's going to become one, but it's never really addressed onscreen.
- The Chessmaster: Subverted. Christina tries this, making underhanded power plays not only within her team but with the league commissioner and the mayor of Miami. It's clear early how in over her head she is.
- Cluster F-Bomb: See Badass Boast above. Also, it's an often-realistic football movie starring Tony Montana. So, you know, EVERY OTHER SCENE.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: All of the members of the Sharks' coaching staff are this to some degree, but Christina absolutely personifies the trope.
- Creator Cameo: Oliver Stone as a TV announcer.
- Disney Death: Shark
- Expy: John C. McGinley's Jack Rose is one for outspoken sports talk host Jim Rome; D'Amato slugging him harkens back to former NFL quarterback Jim Everett shoving Rome after the host insultingly referred to him as female tennis player Chris Evert.
- Eye Scream: One of the Knights' players gets his eyeball ripped out.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Willie reveals that due to taking a rented suit from a college booster for a wedding, he was suspended for violating college rules for handouts, slid to the seventh round in a draft where he was originally projected to sign for a million-dollar signing bonus, and was labeled as a "troublemaker" coming into the league.
- From Bad to Worse: At the start, the Sharks have lost three games in a row and are down in a fourth... and then they lose their first and second string QBs on consecutive plays.
- Ice Queen: Owner Christina Pagniacci.
- Henpecked Husband: Cap Rooney; his wife simply won't allow him to quit despite the pain he's frequently in at his age.
- Money, Dear Boy: In-universe: While the players and coaches all have a genuine love for the game, they make it no secret that they're primarily concerned about their next contract.
- Next Sunday A.D.: The movie was released 1999 but took place during the latter half of the 2001 AFFA season.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jack Rose is a thinly (read: not even remotely) disguised caricature of Jim Rome, right down to his abrasive comments resulting in him being assaulted on camera. In addition, Tony D'Amato is based on former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, and Christina Pagniacci is a combination of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Rams owner Georgia Frontiere.
- Not So Different: Dr. Powers manages to oust Dr. Mandrake over his dangerous practices; when Powers takes over and Shark asks for another (unnecessary) cortisone shot, Powers hesitates then relents.
- He's also shown flirting with a much younger girl in a Funny Background Event.
- Oh, Crap!: Written all over Al Pacino's face several times on the sidelines.
- Rousing Speech: One of the most famous in film over the last two decades.
- Shown Their Work: While the AFFA and featured teams in the film are fictional, the movie accurately captures a lot of aspects of real life professional football.
- Beamen's draft stock dropping because he took a gift from a booster is very much Truth in Television: college players can and have seen their draft stock plummet for relativly minor infractions.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Christina thinks of herself as a tough, no nonsense manager of a football team. However, as the film goes on, she realizes how much she isn't respected and is really a laughing stock. Some of it isn't justified and based on sexism, while there are genuine reasons people don't take her seriously, reasons people close to her try to point out, but she doesn't listen
- Willie quickly gets one when he wins the starting job and is hailed as one of the best QB's in the league. This quickly gets undone as he becomes alienated from the team.
- So Last Season: D'Amato takes a lot of heat from both his owner and his offensive coordinator over his antiquated and predictable running-based offense.
- Cap also becomes this once Beaman takes over the starting job.
- Spanner in the Works: Willie Beaman's shoulder injury that he's been dealing with long before joining the Sharks. It gets worse during the film and in the ending segment, he has a chance to tell D'Amato this after learning he's going to be made a franchise quarterback for his expansion team, but he doesn't.
- Stress Vomit / Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When forced into his first game after two more experienced quarterbacks are injured, Beamen promptly throws up in the middle of the huddle. In later games, he's shown throwing up on the sidelines before taking his first snap.
- 10-Minute Retirement: While it was known all throughout the movie that this season would likely be his last, it seemed to end with D'Amato announcing his retirement. But he instead signed with an expansion team as coach and GM,and also signed Beamen to his team.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Possibly the best possible interpretation of Dr. Mandrake. He lies to the players about their injuries (and this ultimately gets him fired when Tony finds out). He justifies his actions by saying that if he told the truth their their careers would be over and he not only wants to give the team the best chance to win, but he doesn't want to be responsible for telling the players that they have to give up on their dream, especially when he's convinced (not without merit) that most of them would want to play through their injuries anyway.
- While he does cover up Shark's injury (namely the fact that he could die if he takes another hard hit), he does feel guilty about putting him at risk. But he again justifies this by saying Shark has 4 kids to feed, and he doesn't want to end his career.