Brian and the Boz

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Brian and the Boz Movie Poster Image
Smart docu about controversial football player's redemption.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 51 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Shows a former star athlete whose fame went to his head expressing remorse over his past behavior. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bosworth expresses remorse over his egocentric behavior while he was a star football player at the collegiate and professional levels. He has clearly learned from his mistakes, as he's shown talking about his past with his teenage son. He learns and demonstrates gratitude, integrity, and humility.

Violence

Football violence.

Sex
Language

"Hell." Other profanity is bleeped out.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brian and the Boz is a 2014 ESPN documentary that follows the rise, fall, and redemption of one of 1980s football's most colorful characters. He was known in his heyday as a cocky egomaniac who marketed his image as football's "bad boy" to the hilt before being suspended and eventually kicked off the Oklahoma Sooners for steroid use and unsportsmanlike behavior. But this documentary shows Bosworth, decades later, to be a changed man -- genuinely contrite for his actions as he shows his son the memorabilia his own father kept of his glory days on the field. Love him or hate him -- and for football fans in the '80s, there was no in-between -- what emerges is the study of an athlete who lost sight of who he was as the pressures of fame mounted and eventually learned from his mistakes, which cost him his career in football.

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What's the story?

BRIAN AND THE BOZ explores the rise, fall, and redemption of Brian "The Boz" Bosworth, one of football's most colorful and polarizing figures in the 1980s. Interweaving  footage of Bosworth's days as a ferociously talented linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners with more recent scenes of Bosworth and his son going through newspaper and magazine articles, trophies, and assorted memorabilia -- now in a north Austin storage unit and that Bosworth's own father kept -- the documentary shows that Bosworth is genuinely contrite for how he let his cultivated media image as football's "bad boy" supersede his love of the game. While winning football games, Bosworth was equally known as a provocateur who loved trash-talking other football teams, walked around with a "punky" blond mullet haircut with war paint smeared across the sides of his head, and enjoyed thumbing his nose at any authorities who tried to get in his way. Over time, the image took over from the reality, as steroid use and unsportsmanlike conduct led to Bosworth being taken off the Sooners before he went pro with the Seattle Seahawks in a career cut short due to injuries.

Is it any good?

As with so many other documentaries in ESPN's "30 for 30" series, this documentary presents an illuminating and revealing study of moments and characters that are familiar to sports fans. And it goes the extra mile to give the complete story. In this instance, the story is of Brian "The Boz" Bosworth, one of football's most controversial stars from the 1980s. Although his heyday was in the '80s, this documentary explores an all-too-familiar contemporary theme: A talented star athlete's cultivated media image spirals out of control, culminating in ego trumping talent and fame trumping the simple love of sport.

Through footage of Bosworth's plays on the field and antics off the field interspersed with more recent scenes of Bosworth and his teenage son going through a collection of memorabilia from his career, the portrait that emerges is of a man who feels a tremendous amount of remorse for letting fame and ego spin out of control at the cost of his football career. Those who only remember "The Boz" as the trash-talking cocky linebacker for the Sooners who tried to take on the NCAA might be surprised at this older, wiser, and contrite Bosworth. Brian and the Boz is an excellent documentary with plenty of life lessons; families are likely to find many discussion points.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about families and sports. In Brian and the Boz, Bosworth's father is discussed as a man who was never satisfied with his son's performance on the field, no matter how well he did. How does this documentary address the issue of hypercompetitive parents?

  • How does this documentary address other sports-related issues such as athlete-branding, steroid use, and the corrupting influence of money on college sports?

  • What values is Bosworth trying to teach his son as they're in the storage unit, looking at newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and trophies from Bosworth's college and professional football career?

  • How does Brian and the Boz promote gratitude, integrity, and humility? Why are these important character strengths?

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