Cast includes: Bill Courtney, O.C. Brown, Montrail ‘Money’ Brown, Chavis Daniels
Director: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin (Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong)
Genre: Documentary (2011)
Players shot, players in jail, players fighting… football coach Bill Courtney has had a “career’s worth of crap to deal with. I think that pretty much sums up the last two weeks for me.” It’s Manassas High School on the north side of Memphis, but Coach Bill thinks these kids can “rise above the inner city knock.” Manassas hasn’t won a game in 14 years. When Coach Bill came to Manassas, he created enough excitement about football that some local 8th graders came to see what was going on. He urged them to come to Manassas and play football. Coach Bill, we soon see, is a force of nature. Some coaches will work hard for their best players. Coach Bill is there for all of them. “Young men of character end up winning in life.”
The kids he encouraged to come to Manassas are now seniors, and Coach thinks they have a real opportunity. But this is no band of brothers. It’s still a struggle each and every day. One player just released from prison has anger issues. One struggles with academics. Others repeatedly blow off school and practice. We learn that Coach Bill is a local businessman who has volunteered for this job… and that’s a story in itself. “Yesterday, I had to cuss way too much. I had to go home and pray for the way I had to talk. Please don’t make me do this!” Against all odds, Manassas is no longer the worst team in Memphis. In fact, they may have a shot at the playoffs. College recruiters are paying attention to the Manassas Tigers for the first time ever.
Every few years we get a really good documentary about inner city kids who beat the odds and achieve something impressive. This year, it’s the Oscar-nominated film, Undefeated. Americans love this theme so much that it’s inspired Hollywood films like The Blind Side… which isn’t half as amazing as this film. The filmmakers were aware, however, that it’s difficult to get movie goers to go see documentaries. But I believe they’ve done an excellent job of making this film feel like a mainstream movie… great footage, editing and music. Yet, at every turn, we realize the cast… the kids… struggle against daunting odds. “You think football builds character. It does not. It reveals character,” says Coach Bill. How do you measure character? “It’s not how you handle success. It’s how you handle failure.” And these kids get a lot of practice handling failure.
4 popped kernels
You don’t have to love football to care what happens to these young men and their amazing coach
Primary Audience: Young adults & Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Intense
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking