I was ready to dismiss Invincible. Without even seeing the flick, I had this post already written:
"I loved Invincible! In fact, I loved it so much, I couldn't help cheering aloud as I watched: 'Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!"
"Marky Mark and his Phunky Bunch of Philadelphia Eagles."
(Admittedly, that one wasn't really very good...)
But, my pre-judgement about the sports flick was wrong. I ended up being pretty impressed with the Disney production, and particularly with Wahlberg's performance.
Invincible is inspired by the true story of Vince Papale, a Philadelphia bartender who tried out to make the Eagles team. When new Coach Dick Vermeil (played pretty true-to-life by Greg Kinnear) arrived in 1975, the Eagles were the dregs of the NFL. To add spirit and new life to the team and the city, Vermeil announced open tryouts; hundreds of regular guys showed up, but only Papale makes the team. Against overwhelming odds--he was 30 years old, and played only one year of high school football-- Papale not only made the team, but made significant contributions. He was named Captain of Special Teams near the end of his three year professional career.
More importantly, Papale renewed enthusiasm among fans and within a city that had lost a lot of it's swagger: work in the blue-collar city was hard to come by, a recession was hitting hard and the Eagles football team--the one thing that united the citizens of the city, and gave them some measure of hope--was a perpetual loser.
That's what I liked most about Invincible. As much as it's about an individual achieving a dream against nearly impossible odds, it's also about how communities need to dream as well. How the success of a friend, family member or even a stranger with whom we identify can inspire hope in us as well.
It's wrong to dismiss Invincible as simply another sports flick. It's a story of accomplishment, and of dramatic achievement. And it's worth seeing.