Only once every couple of years does Hollywood put out a heartfelt, emotional, and spirit building film; a movie that is anticipation at its highest sense of the word. It is these films that renew our faith in Hollywood, in the magic of acting, movies and most importantly, in the magic of ourselves. Then there are the adult/young adult films Disney does, where these same traits and ideas are sugarcoated to death and make the film no longer bearable for adults with any sense of resistance to being spoon-fed.
Remember the Titans could quite possibly be Disney’s biggest fumble. Sure there are movies like the remake of Herbie, but no one was expected to like it. What’s even more sad is that Disney had such an opportunity to tell a really good story with Titans and in an effort to make it “family oriented” killed all the impact the film could have had.
The story is based on a real high school coach in 1971 during the first year of its integration of black and white students. Not only did Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, have to teach the students tolerance of each other, he also has to battle the racism of the town. As you can imagine, after they fight amongst themselves, the team wins a lot. So the premise is good, turmoil between the team and all around them. The fault is in all those other details like script, acting abilities, deep characterization; all those little things.
The story is just a bit too much. The two main football playing characters fight, then are friends, then fight again, then realize how much they need each other, yadda yadda yadda. The script for Titans was originally littered with obscenities (which probably made it a good script and could have made it a decent film), but Disney took all those things out in a grasp for a PG rating. The result is so deep with fluff that I’m shocked the box doesn’t guarantee an uplifting speech every fifteen minutes or your money back. So I ask you, how do you make a film realistic and yet include no realism? You can’t.
Another fine example of this is the annoying fact that throughout the whole movie, any person that’s white has a deep Southern accent, if they’re Black, they sound like normal people. I don’t know if anyone else in the world has ever been to Alexandria, VA but if you are from there 1) you don’t have an accent like you were raised in Alabama, and 2) you’re practically a Yankee and you know it. Finally, the last nail in the Titans coffin is the timeline. The year is 1971, and yet, most of the film comes off looking and sounding like something from the fifties. Come on! The sixties fell in the middle of that. How come there ain’t a lick of blue jeans or tie-dye in practically the whole film. All of these teenagers, juniors, seniors in high school are dressed like proper ladies and gentlemen as if they just walked off the set of a more relaxed version of Grease.
Honestly, I see no point to a release of a Director’s Cut version of Remember the Titans. This version is only seven minutes longer than the original and those seven minutes don’t make a bit of difference to the final verdict on this film, and that is that it was a good effort, but Disney lost the game. If you want to see a movie about racial discrimination, see Crash. If you want to watch a movie about integration and segregation in the South, watch Mississippi Burning. If you want to see a movie about football, see something other than Remember the Titans.
The disc for the Director’s Cut of Remember the Titans is just as disappointing if not more so. The extras include four deleted scenes, and three featurettes. Now that doesn’t look so bad initially and you might be thinking it's all right to watch these. Well, you’re wrong. To kick it off, (more football puns, I know), two of the four deleted scenes in the Director’s Cut are no longer deleted scenes. When you go over to watch these wonders of film editing you’re sitting there through half the scenes, meaning a measly two, saying to yourself, “I saw this, this isn’t deleted.” It is at this point that, if you fell for the hype and bought this edition of the film on DVD, you probably want to start looking for your receipt.
The three featurettes are just as irrelevant to the film as they are to anything else. In “Denzel Becomes Boone” there are six minutes of Denzel basically putting on a hat and chewing gum. Well, we just watched close to two hours of him wearing hats and chewing gum. How is this a transformation? He hung out with the real life Coach Boone on the set and then they chewed gum together. The same theme of unnecessary clips carries over in the next one called “Beating the Odds.” It’s okay, but just okay. And with these as the only salvation for the sunken film it’s a pretty sad picture.
The last extra on the disc is an ABC Special called “Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes”. This features TC Williams High School and talks to the original coaches of the movie-worthy team and is pretty horrible. Good information, but horrible presentation. Now you have to find that receipt. After watching all this, or not being able to bear watching all this, we all know no one needs to own this DVD.
What’s even worse for the general public is that the original DVD, in widescreen, no Director’s Cut or fancy bells and whistles, released in 2001, has all these same features and more. Who in their right mind would pay for less of a DVD five years after it’s already been released? Who? I want to know this person. Who? Jerry Bruckheimer needs to personally come to their house and thank them for pouring more money into his pocket for no reason at all. The original has audio commentary (not on the Director’s Cut), and six deleted scenes, plus the three featurettes. Please, don’t waste your time, your money, your brainwaves on this one. Save yourselves. It’s too late for me.