With how many odds Kurt Warner overcame to go from grocery store worker to Super Bowl MVP, it should be no surprise that the movie about his life exceeds almost all expectations.
American Underdog, starring Zachary Levi as Warner and Anna Paquin as Brenda Warner and directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin, is the inspirational true story of Warner, who overcomes years of challenges and setbacks to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. Just when his dreams seem all but out of reach, it’s only with the support of his wife, Brenda, and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is.
The reason this movie works so well is that it is not simply about the football that was so very important to Warner from a young age, but the relationship he had with his wife Brenda, and the origins of that relationship. That relationship is the core of the movie, and truly the core reason Warner was able to push through the adversities of what some call the NFL wilderness.
Now, that is not to say the football shown in the movie is not impressive. There have been countless examples of movies not getting football throwing (sorry Robbie Amell) or the game action correct, but that is simply just not the case here. Even the practice sequences show the brutality and punishment that Warner went through trying to capture his dream and even capture the ridiculous conditions endured in the Arena League during his time with the Iowa Barnstormers.
The supporting cast of this movie is also one to behold, with a slight surprise for fans of the NBC show Chuck. Levi, who played the titular Chuch, is able to reunite with Adam Baldwin who plays Warner’s Northern Iowa head coach Terry Allen. The same dynamic that Baldwin’s John Casey and Levi’s Chuck had for five seasons comes through at times as Allen rides his quarterback to stay in the pocket and trust his teammates. It’s a reunion that is shown sparingly at the beginning of the movie, but for a long time Chuck fan, it was absolutely wonderful to see.
The other two supporting cast members that stole multiple scenes were Dennis Quaid as Rams head coach Dick Vermeil, and Chance Kelly as Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz. While Vermeil has been featured in a sports movie before in 2006’s Invincible, this is the first time a film has doven into the actions of Martz, and Kelly brings everything he has into the role and shows what it took to get the most out of Warner to propel him and the Rams to a Super Bowl.
American Underdog is an absolute must-see for all sports fans, with its archival footage and realistic football action, but general audiences will also be mesmerized by the emotional journey the Warners went on, and that shows once again that Kurt Warner has defied all the odds.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
American Underdog is out now exclusively in movie theaters. Alex is a movie lover and co-host of the Furloughed Film Talks Podcast. You can find him and his podcast on Twitter @alexfkelly1