|Remember the Titans (Director’s Cut)|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 14 March 2006|
“Remember the Titans” is one of those feel-good sports stories where the basic nature of a game, in this case football, helps those involved with it as coaches, players and spectators overcome all of their problems. A somewhat charming and emotionally satisfying, if overly simplistic, film from 2000, this so-called director’s cut is so close to the theatrical version that it really seems as though Disney is simply repackaging the film so they can sell more DVDs – not that Disney has ever been above that sort of thing.
The film takes place during the fall of 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, and focuses on the impact race and football had on the town. The T.C. Williams high school Titans have one of the best football teams in the state when the school faces integration. Not only are black students and players due to arrive, but so is a new football coach in the form of Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). Though Boone is initially to be only an assistant coach to Coach Yoast (Will Patton), the board decides to make Boone head coach. This causes a greater furor when none of the white team members will play for Boone, who, his hands tied, must continue on with only the new black players. After talking it over, Yoast decides to be the assistant coach, most of the white players return, and the transformation of the Titans begins.
Slowly but surely, through Boone’s tough as nails style and Yoast’s calm demeanor, the teammates begin to understand and appreciate each other. Overcoming their own prejudices seems to be the easy part, as the rest of the town and even one or two of the assistant coaches are more than reluctant to see racial change come to their town. Boone and Yoast have a tenuous though professional relationship and together help mold the team into a winning one. As the season progresses, the Titans have their ups and downs, both within the context of the team and in their personal lives.
“Remember the Titans” is a good but not great movie. It has many of the conventions typical of a sports-themed film that seeks to make social commentary. A few of the conventions are the redneck coach, the pretty, mildly racist white girlfriend, the wiser than thou child, the super-friendly though dumb fat guy who gets along with everyone and others that I won’t bother mentioning. In fact, when I saw the trailers for the recent Disney film “Glory Road,” I thought, “This is ‘Remember the Titans’ with basketball.” The films are both about great teams that had to overcome racial adversity, but show little actual venom in the racism. They show it and overcome it, but it is not hard-hitting. This is one of the things that keeps “Titans” from being a great film. What probably helps is the producing of Jerry Bruckheimer, who seems to turn everything he touches to gold, and the sheer magnificence of Denzel Washington, who makes every movie he’s in better by a factor of at least ten.
For a DVD that came out six years after the theatrical release of the film, this DVD is severely lacking in special features. The three featurettes are all of the boring variety, each lasting about ten minutes and consisting of a few interviews from the cast and production team, sprinkled with scenes from the film and a smattering of behind-the-scenes footage. The only really nice thing is the interview with the real-life Boone and Yoast, conducted by former NFL great Lynn Swann, though he seems out of his element as an interviewer. The fact that producer Bruckheimer gets more face time than director Boaz Yakin just shows that this is really not the director’s film in the usual sense.
The reason this is even called a director’s cut is that there are two added scenes. What’s most interesting and bizarre about this is that two of the “deleted scenes” are actually in this version of the film. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. This more than anything shows that the DVD designers were totally out of it when they put this one together. Plus, it begs the question as to why all four deleted scenes weren’t included in this lengthened version. Either have bonus scenes or put them in the extended cut, but don’t do both, because now they’re not deleted.
The sound mix is solid, though there seems to be little attention paid to the rear speakers. The DVD package says that there is a French language track in addition to the French and Spanish subtitles, but this is not true. There is no French language track and Disney had better make sure they don’t keep claiming things about their DVDs that aren’t true. The film looks good, but the transfer is from 2001, so there is nothing special to talk about, no upgrades, no nothing.
Overall, while “Remember the Titans” is a well-executed, inspirational sports movie, this DVD is insulting, as it makes it very obvious that the producers of it are simply interested in repackaging the film to get more money out of it.