American Underdog (2021)

Andrew and Jon Erwin are Christian film directors, screenwriters and film producers who have made movies such as WoodlawnI Can Only ImagineOctover Baby and Mom’s Night Out. Andrew says that their goal: “Our focus is still firmly rooted within the church, but it’s focused out. And so our goal is to reach out beyond the church walls to engage a generation that’s walking away from the church — as an introduction to Christianity.”

That would be telling the story of Kurt Warner, who career saw him take the hero’s journey from undrafted free agent to a two-time Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl MVP. After playing at Northern Iowa from 1990 to 1993, Warner spent four years without being picked by an NFL team until signed by the Packers and released before the season started. He played three seasons of arena football for the Iowa Barnstormers before getting signed by the Rams.

Of course, this movie doesn’t really tell the entire truth, as it shows his first Rams game as the 1999 season opener against the Ravens. The truth is that it was actually the Rams’ week 17 game of their 1998 season against the 49ers, during which he only completed four of his eleven attempts for 39 yards. And Trent Green, who the movie claims is the established quarterback, signed after Warner, who was allocated to NFL Europe and brought back.

But does that matter to someone who doesn’t know anything about football? Zachary Levi (ChuckShazam!) is really charming as Warner, Anna Paquin is good as his wife and I’m always happy to see Dennis Quaid in a film.

If you do know football, having Ray Lewis be the bad guy of Warner’s first game in the NFL is pretty awesome. And regardless of how you feel about religion, the lesson that Warner learns — success is only found by how you overcome failure — is one that works no matter your belief system. The way that he becomes part of his wife’s family and cares for her children is exemplary and this film turned me into a fan of Warner the person.

American Underdog is now available on DVD from Lionsgate.

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