A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My All American is a sentimental biographical drama about the late, beloved University of Texas football player Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock), whom most considered too small for the sport -- except for Longhorns legend Coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). The movie follows Freddie as he goes from determined Pee-Wee player to standout high school star and finally as a Longhorn who played even when he was in unimaginable pain. A story of confidence, faith, and an enduring love of football, the movie does contain a few uses of strong language ("bulls--t," "damn," "ass"), as well as several scenes of kissing and one in which a player moons the field (but nothing more graphic than that). In addition to gridiron action, a fight breaks out at a war protest.
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What's the story?
MY ALL AMERICAN is the inspirational story of little-known football player Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock), who was considered too small to be a college player but ended up becoming a beloved Longhorn at the University of Texas. Growing up in Colorado, Freddie dedicates himself to the game, overcompensating for his size with his speed and discipline. But just when it looks like he's not going to receive a scholarship to play college ball, Coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) offers Freddie a spot at UT. A devoted Catholic, Freddie heads to Texas with his serious girlfriend, Linda (Sarah Bolger), who's also been accepted. Freddie turns into a standout safety for the 1968-1970 teams, but toward the end of that last season, his leg starts bothering him. Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Freddie continues to be an inspiration to his team.
Is it any good?
Like all heartwarming football dramas, My All American has positive messages and what should be an emotional storyline. But the movie is a little too focused on football, and Freddie is a little too saintly (a close friend even calls him a Pollyanna, and the term fits), for his story to feel authentic. It's not that biographical films need to be gritty or feature a down-and-out back story to be effective, but Freddie just seems too good to be true. He never questions his faith, his friendships, his coach, his father, or anyone, really -- except for a brief scene late in the film, after tragedy strikes.
Wittrock certainly has the chops to be a leading man, but there's not much range necessary to play a young man whose only ambition is football and who otherwise doesn't have any drama in his life. Freddie has a great, supportive family, a doting steady girlfriend, and a fabulous coach -- whom Eckhart plays as only slightly less godly than Bear Bryant in Woodlawn. Even after Freddie's cancer is discovered, not much changes; he looks sad in exactly one scene. Perhaps Freddie really was an eternal optimist, but the movie turns his story into a movie-of-the-week special rather than a fully realized depiction of a young man's brief but inspiring life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of sports movies. Why do audiences like them? What do they tend to have in common?
How accurate do you think the move is to the actual events that inspired it? Why might filmmakers decide to make changes to real events?
Is Freddie a role model? Why or why not? What about the other characters?
- In theaters: November 13, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: February 23, 2016
- Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Sarah Bolger, Finn Wittrock
- Director: Angelo Pizzo
- Studio: Clarius Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Boy Role Models
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, language and brief partial nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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