Every now and then, I'll come across a biopic that just seems too incredulous to have actually been based on a true story. Even if you take out the parts that they exaggerate for theatrical sake, the very premise would seem like it could never have occurred. I would have never thought that getting a bunch of juvenile delinquents to play football, one of the most violent sports there is, would actually straighten up their lives. Guess I was wrong.
"Gridiron Gang" has The Rock playing in yet another role where the real-life character was actually a white guy. Sean Porter came up with the idea of introducing football to teen males in a juvenile detention center. It effectively teaches them the team concept, discipline and accountability and helps many of them change for the better.
It's amazing that The Rock actually slimmed down for this role. Even though he's not at his bulky wrestling weight anymore, he's STILL cut up and looks like he could play some downs in the NFL with no problem. That's why the Mike Tice-inspired scene where he puts on pads himself to get more from his team works so well.
The thing with football movies is that it is one sport that's pretty hard to re-create into some believable action scenes. While the action on the field here doesn't parallel the realism of "Friday Night Lights", it's also not as hokey as the efforts in "Varsity Blues". Somebody probably should have told them beforehand that not EVERY football scene had to be in slow motion.
There were some pretty predictable moments here and there. Of course you knew the kids would get turned around, you knew someone getting shot would help trigger it, you knew family and friends who were jilted in the beginning would end up coming around for support, you knew they'd win the big game at the end in dramatic fashion. However, you probably didn't know that it was going to be such a good movie along the way.
My rating: B+