There seems to be no end to beating-the-odds football movies these days, and if they all peak with a breathless moment of anticipation during a clutch play, then We Are Marshall
, based on a true story, has plenty of (mostly good) company. Matthew McConaughey plays Jack Lengyel, who becomes head coach--more or less by default--of Marshall University's rebuilding varsity football team in Huntington, W. Va., after the school's 37-member team and coaches (and a number of others) die in a plane crash in the Appalachian Mountains on Nov. 14, 1970. Facing an indifferent college president (David Strathairn) ready to shut the football program down, a morose assistant coach (Matthew Fox), and a charged-up player (Anthony Mackie) who missed the doomed flight due to an injury, Lengyel is faced with fielding a new team and putting the players through their paces. There are the usual, perhaps too-familiar, training montages and field action, but screenwriter Jamie Linden and director McG (Charlie's Angels) also draw some very good performances from the likes of Kate Mara and Ian McShane, contributing to an emotional tapestry conveying a powerful sense of how such a sizable loss affects a small community. --Tom Keogh
On the DVD
Introduced by director McG, "Legendary Coaches" (37 minutes) has real-life coach Jack Lengyel (portrayed in the film by Matthew McConaughey) recalling his time at Marshall and reading a letter he received from President Nixon. Then five championship coaches discuss their coaching philosophies and overcoming adversity: Bobby Bowden (Florida State football, and also portrayed in the film as the 1971 coach at West Virginia), Pat Summit (Tennessee women's basketball), Lute Olsen (Arizona men's basketball), George Horton (Cal State Fullerton baseball), and John Wooden (UCLA men's basketball). Also included are a current promotional spot for Marshall University and the theatrical trailer. --David Horiuchi
More We Are Marshall
Combo HD DVD
Return of the Thundering Herd: The Story that Inspired "We Are Marshall"