The overrated underdog

Kurt Warner fumbles the ball on his own movie


Photo courtesy of IMDB.

American Underdog is the story of Kurt Warner, without any substance to what made his career great.

Logan Moseley, Striv Co-Executive Producer, Business Manager

Those that know of Kurt Warner’s story are aware of what he had to go through to become a Super Bowl champion and Most Valuable Player. You’d also know of you who know his twilight years in Arizona, where he was one 234-pound mistake from once again hoisting the seven pound trophy of champions. I am one of those people, and after watching “American Underdog,” I was disappointed in how this felt more like a Disney football movie than a movie about the greatest underdog story of all time. 

For those that don’t know the story, here’s a quick synopsis. 

Kurt Warner went to Football Championship Subdivision Northern Iowa, rode the bench for a few years, and then got some playing time only to go undrafted. He later got a call from the Green Bay Packers, got cut after two days, ended up bagging groceries at a local Hy-Vee, played some Arena Football for the Iowa Barnstormers, got a chance with the then St. Louis Rams, then backed-up quarterback Trent Green until he got hurt in a preseason game. In relief, they won the Super Bowl. 

The next year Warner himself got injured, only to lose the Super Bowl the following year to the New England Patriots, starting the Tom Brady and Bill Belichek led Patriots dynasty. He then would find himself with the New York Giants, mentoring a young Eli Manning. He later found himself having a career renaissance of sorts in Arizona, leading the Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance, falling just short. In the big game, he notably threw a 99 yard pick-six to 243 pound defensive lineman James Harrison, a play that decided the game with a score of 27-23. 

The movie starts off with a young Warner, watching San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana play in the Super Bowl against the Miami Dolphins. The voice of an older Warner (Zachary Levi) narrates over him watching Montana set the record for most passing yards in the Super Bowl, and then a training montage, which is typical in a sports movie. 

It then cuts to Warner sitting through film, with what little he had, trying to see what he had that could get NFL scouts’ heads turning. Shortly after going undrafted, he got a call from the Green Bay Packers, offering them a spot behind legendary quarterback Brett Farve. He was cut after two days. 

This is where the “feel good” part of the story falters. In most movies like “The Blindside” and Rudy, when the main character has an obstacle to overcome, a little bit of luck will fall their way. For Michael Oher, it was stumbling upon the Tuohy family. For “Rudy”, it was the chance to play at Notre Dame. There is none of that in this movie. After Warner and his girlfriend Brenda Meoni (Anna Paquin) and her two kids, Zack (Hayden Zaller) and Jesse Jo (Cora Wilkerson), got caught up in a snowstorm where they nearly froze to death, Warner finally got the chance he wanted and played Arena Football for the Iowa Barnstormers. 

This is the part of the movie that I hated the most. From the beginning it showed Warner progress as a quarterback and spending more time in the pocket, whereas in Arena League everything goes quick. Having to relearn his instinct hurt Warner, and he struggled with adjusting to the speed of the game at first, but eventually he adapted. The reason I hated this part wasn’t because it wasn’t interesting, but because it was the most football in a football movie. The IMDB page for this movie has “sports” in its genres, yet this was the closest we got. However, I do like how they paid reference to “The Tackle:” the play that won Warner his lone ring. While he was on the one yard short end of the stick, it was a nice reference to throw in for die-hard Rams fans like myself. 

After his loss in the championship game, the Rams called him, and he had a rare second chance years after losing his first. This is where the movie villainizes the wrong person. While head coach Dick Vermeil (Dennis Quaid) is the hero of the story for sticking up for Kurt, offensive coordinator Mike Martz (Chance Kelly) is a mean, arrogant coach who even says he doesn’t want Kurt for his “perfect offense that [he] built.” Kurt not only performs well and earns a roster spot, but also wins the hearts of his teammates. 

Then, in a preseason game, starting quarterback Trent Green went down. Kurt fills in and gets the start against the Baltimore Ravens. This does bring me to  one thing I do like about this movie and that is it had the old 90s-2000s games in the movie, and with an appearance by the legendary commentator Gus Johnson, it was really cool to see how they incorporated those games into the movie. Warner goes on to beat the Ravens, but then is a sudden jump away from the rest of the regular season to the Super Bowl against the Tennessee Titans. For some reason, it only showed around five plays. They didn’t mention “The Tackle” at all, which was very disappointing, as that part I was looking forward to. 

At the end, it goes over what he did, going to New York and then Arizona, but the entire movie was more about his family, which I can respect, although that part was not marketed enough. In total, I would give this movie a two out of five stars.