Remember the Titans (2000)

(On TV, November 2015)  Some movies feel as if they were executed almost entirely on autopilot, making use of familiar elements to make entirely unobjectionable moral points in ways that are undistinguishable from countless other similar movies.  So it is that I hadn’t seen Remember the Titans, but it felt as if I already had: Using football as a way to discuss racial integration, it’s a film that plays exactly like many other such movies, with underdog victories, enemies making nice, a community forgetting their racial divide through sportsmanship and the entire laundry list of such wishful thinking.  It’s not necessarily bad (with Denzel Washington starring, there’s at least one good performance worth watching), but it’s intensely familiar.  It’s also, to be savagely truthful, the kind of movies so specific to the American Midwest experience (football and racism!) that it becomes an anthropological artifact to non-American viewers: Whatever strings the films pull aren’t as effective for foreign viewers and the result feels intensely mechanical as a result.  Even Washington plays pretty much the same role as he ever has.  Despite its subject matter, Remember the Titans is consciously meant to be nice and uncontroversial: a family movie after which everyone can feel better about their non-obvious racism.  It plays without big surprises, but also crucially without any ambiguity than a look at the historical facts would reveal.  Well-done but familiar, It’s a hard film to dislike but an easy one to dismiss. 

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