Movie Review: Remember the Titans

by David Sokol
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  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Running Time: 113 minutes
  • Recommended for
    ages 9+

Lessons you won't soon forget

Kids and adults will appreciate and get absorbed in the uplifting storyline. At its heart, RTT is about working hard for a common goal, defying odds, and learning to respect others who might, on the surface, seem different. During the course of the film, high school kids, many of whom had never associated with people of a different race, grow to respect and admire one another as they focus on forging a championship team. It isn't an easy process, but with tough love and relentless vision from coaches Boone and Yoast, the Titans tackle challenges on and off the field and, along the way, help unite the once-divided city of Alexandria.

Kids Will Like:
Girls will get a kick out of Sheryl, Coach Yoast's daughter. Played by Hayden Panettiere who was nine when the movie was made, Sheryl has an uncanny knowledge of football, and it is through her narration that the story initially kicks in. Boys will like the action -- and there's plenty of it during the team practices and the games themselves. And everyone will appreciate the bonds that develop between the players, a likeable bunch ranging from the sensitive Petey and color-blind Lewie to the dreamy, Johnny-come-lately quarterback from California whom his teammates have dubbed Sunshine.

Parents Will Like:
Overcoming adversity is a common theme these days, but this movie presents the challenge in a smart, contemporary, and very human way that kids and adults will connect with. It's not just the kids who become better and stronger as they face the social challenges of the day, but the grown-ups as well. Denzel Washington is superb as courageous Coach Boone. And then there's the music! The soundtrack is jam-packed with great songs of the era by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Temptations, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and others.

Heads Up:
During a scene when young Sheryl Yoast is visiting the home of Coach Boone and his daughter Nicky, a local redneck throws a brick through a window and yells, "Hey, Coach Coon." There are several other scenes that could be disturbing for young kids. One happens late in the movie when the car that team captain Gerry Bertier is driving gets rammed and Gerry, who doesn't lose his spirit, is paralyzed. (He's able to watch the championship game from his hospital bed.) There are racially tense scenes and some fights—these are high school kids after all, and it was 1971. The movie is book-ended by brief cemetery scenes that take place in 1981 when the Titans reunite at Gerry's funeral. Then, there's the football action itself, and it is quite intense. Although there are no on-field injuries, the hitting is often hard and realistic.

Own It?
Probably. With Remember the Titans, Disney set the bar very high for films humanizing great achievements in sports. The Rookie (baseball), Miracle (Hockey), and Glory Road (basketball), all based on true stories, followed admirably in Titans great big footsteps.

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