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Director:Ericson Core
Cast:Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rispoli
Release Date:2006

By Gary Dowell | Posted

Everyone loves an underdog story, and the true story of Vince Papale’s unlikely NFL career is about as underdog as one can get. Papale, played with depth and conviction by Mark Wahlberg, is the subject of Disney’s uplifting sports movie Invincible, a feel-good but thankfully treacle-free tale cut from the same cloth as 2004’s Miracle. The story is set in 1976 Philadelphia, when unemployment is high and the Eagles football team is exiting an embarrassing season. Enter Papale, a nowhere-bound 30-year-old bartender whose wife has just dumped him in favor of greener pastures, and professional coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear, having a great late summer), hired to turn the Eagles into a winning team again. In a calculated attempt to fire up fan interest, Vermeil announces open tryouts for the team, and amateur player Papale attends primarily at the urging of his friends. Against all odds, he’s picked for basic training, and the rest, as they say, is history. Unlike most football movies, the emphasis here is on one man’s struggle for confidence, rather than on the binding of a team. Much of the movie is spent following Papale around his South Philly neighborhood, tending bar and hanging around with his fellow blue-collar buddies, and it may seem that Invincible takes too long to get to the football. But by the time it does get down to it, we’ve invested enough in Wahlberg and Kinnear to give a damn about the outcome of the all-important Big Game.

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