Undefeated

undefeated

Last year, I was watching the Oscars when a movie I’d never heard of (Undefeated) won the award for best documentary. In a bubble, this wasn’t strange as I’ve only seen two of the movies that have ever won best documentary. However, the fact that I’d never heard of this movie until that night and it was about sports completely blew my mind. I actively seek out sports documentaries and have seen enough that I could easily make a “top 100 sports documentaries” feature on the website.

Undefeated is the story of the Manassas Tigers football team. Manassas is a poverty-stricken public school for northern Memphis that has never won a playoff football game in the 100+ year history of the school. Six years prior to the events of the movie, head coach Bill Courtney takes over and vows to turn things around for this perennial loser.

Like all good sports documentaries, though, Undefeated is at its best when it touches on life outside of football. There are so many absolutely incredible scenes. Without trying to spoil them, the movie has stayed with me for a week after I saw it. I still have conversations with people about some of the things that I saw. While the football scenes are enjoyable, watching the relationship between coach Courtney and his players is something, as a coach, I can greatly appreciate. What really surprised me, though, was seeing the situations, mostly brought on by extreme poverty, a culture of single parent households, and crime, that just seem like they can’t possibly happen in America. Watching Undefeated, I had many of the same feelings I had many years ago watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina. As in, I don’t even recognize this version of America and can’t believe that we have people in this country that live in these awful of life circumstances.

If you take one thing out of my review of the movie, let it be this: this is the single best documentary I have seen since I watched Hoop Dreams nearly 20 years ago. It’s a better football movie than whatever your favorite football movie right now is. Doesn’t matter if that movie is Friday Night Lights, Brian’s Song, We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans, The Blind Side, Rudy, Jerry Macguire, The Longest Yard, Varsity Blues, Any Given Sunday, The Program, Invincible or any other movie. This movie is better. I think it will gain a huge cult following when it’s released on dvd in two weeks and, especially, when it’s finally released to Netflix. When I get around to making a list of the top movies I saw in 2012, this will be very closer to #1 than #10. A must watch documentary…

9.5

out of 10

Check out the trailer:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckku5qEt-vA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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