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Boaz Yakin
Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee, Kip Pardue, Hayden Panettiere, Nicole Ari Parker, Kate Bosworth, Earl Poitier, Ryan Gosling
Writing Credits:
Gregory Allen Howard

History is written by the winners.

Denzel Washington plays Herman Boone, a Virginia high-school football coach who leads his underdog boys to victory against all odds. But this isn't just another Hoosiers-type feel-good movie. Based on events that took place in the South of the early 1970s, the film depicts the real Coach Boone's struggle to overcome a community's racial differences while forging a team at a newly integrated school.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$20.905 million on 1865 screens.
Domestic Gross
$115.648 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 3/20/2001

• Audio Commentary with Director Boaz Yakin Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Writer Gregory Allen Howard
• Audio Commentary with Real-Life Coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast
• Six Additional Scenes
• "Denzel Becomes Boone" Featurette
• "Beating The Odds" Featurette
• ABC Special "Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind The Scenes"
• Theatrical Trailer
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Remember The Titans (2000)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 19, 2006)

When I remember the Titans, I don’t think of Remember the Titans. Instead, I flash back to my senior year of high school. I went to Robinson, where we usually featured good squads but always were in the shadow of the perennial powerhouse from T.C. Williams. The two schools played yearly, and we usually were on the losing end.

During my senior year, however, it looked like things might be different. Both our Rams and the Titans were very highly rated, and when they met in the fall, it seemed possible we might be number one.

Alas, it was not to be. I had a bad feeling that night when I saw the Williams players leave their bus. They chanted, “Who we gonna beat? Robinson!” but I thought they were yelling, “What we wanna eat? Raw meat!” Williams had a reputation as a tough school in many ways, and those of us at more affluent Robinson were definitely intimidated by this.

I don’t know if our football players felt the same way, but the end result was unmistakable. The Titans mopped the field with our dudes and went on to yet another championship. As for the Rams, I don’t recall how the season ultimately concluded, but at least our best player - running back Chris Warren - went on to a respectable career as a pro.

My experiences with the team as depicted in Remember the Titans are nil. Although I lived in the area back in 1971 - when the film takes place - I was only four at the time, so I definitely wasn’t interested in football. (1971 was Robinson’s first year in existence - too bad we didn’t make the movie!) Nonetheless, I’ve been here my whole life, so I retain a certain perspective on the region. Although Titans gets things horribly wrong in regard to it depiction of the area, it still offered a rousing and enjoyable tale of racial tolerance and unity.

First, let me just get my spleen-venting out of the way. Titans makes Alexandria, Virginia out as some backwater southern burg. One of the first statements in the film relates that in our fair state, high school football is a virtual religion. That may well be true for areas farther south, but make no mistake: Alexandria is in northern Virginia. Our region is very different from much of the rest of the state, as we’re a suburb of Washington, DC.

You’d never know that from Titans, which leads one to believe that Alexandria was a sleepy town far from anywhere. Fact: T.C. Williams High is 10 miles from the White House. At no point does the film let you know that you’re so close to the center of the nation, as it prefers to create an impression of the small-town south.

Alexandria was definitely less well-developed 35 years ago, but it wasn’t like this. I guess the filmmakers felt they needed to create a more isolated location for the movie to work. I don’t agree, but I was able to ignore the radical departure from geographical reality and enjoy the movie nonetheless.

Titans looks at the first year of busing and forced integration at Williams. Not only the students are shoved together but also the football coaches - headed by long-term leader Bill Yoast (Will Patton) - are disrupted by the introduction of new head coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). Although this demotion nearly causes Yoast to leave Williams, Boone convinces him that he needs his help to quell the racial powderkeg ignited by the combination of white and black teammates.

Inevitably, the two sides start out as enemies, but also inevitably, they learn to respect each other and come together as a team. Led by black Julius “Big Ju” Campbell (Wood Harris) and white Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst), the squad unites and becomes a nearly unstoppable force. Things aren’t quite so simple in the real world, but eventually most of the townsfolk take their cues from the coaches and the players and learn to get along with each other.

There’s not an original moment to be found in Titans, as we’ve all seen this kind of film many times. Essentially the plot follows the battles fought by the team both on and off the field as intolerance continues to be a problem, but the whole thing wraps up fairly neatly in the end. A little too neatly, perhaps, but it still comes to a satisfying conclusion.

When you see the name “Jerry Bruckheimer” on the marquee, you know the production will lack ingenuity but you’re usually assured that you’ll find a reasonably entertaining piece, and that definitely was the case with Titans. Actually, this movie deviates slightly from the usual Bruckheimer formula in which he casts a slew of big-name actors to give the otherwise-slight stories some credibility. I guess he reserves the superstars for action flicks like Gone In Sixty Seconds and The Rock. When Bruckheimer goes the “character” route - such as in Coyote Ugly - we might find a star or two, but most of the cast features relative unknowns.

Washington is clearly the only box-office “name” found in Titans. After Patton, the only easily recognizable performer - to me, at least - was Nicole Ari Parker. She plays Boone’s wife and is best remembered - by me, at least - as Becky Barnett in Boogie Nights. Some of the other actors looked familiar - Hurst appeared in Rules of Engagement, while Ethan Suplee was in a few Kevin Smith flicks such as Mallrats and Chasing Amy - but otherwise this was a roster of unknowns.

No matter - they all do a very nice job. If I had to pick a standout, it’d be Hurst, who offers a rich and varied portrayal of Bertier. He makes him a strong leader but also develops his emotional status in a natural and believable manner. In any case, none of the supporting actors do a poor job, and they all provide nice performances.

Another good performance comes from the youngest co-star, Hayden Panettiere. Although not a recognizable face, her voice may sound familiar. She appeared in two Disney animated flicks, 1998’s A Bug’s Life and 2000’s Dinosaur. For the most part, I can’t stand child actors, and her role as Yoast’s daughter Sheryl possessed great potential to become annoying; she’s more football-obsessed than her dad, and she’s free with her opinions. However, Panettiere makes the character forceful but not obnoxious, and she was a consistently amusing highlight.

Director Boaz Yakin does little to alter the standard Bruckheimer formula, as the movie consists of lots of period songs integrated into a smooth and vivid visual production. The characters get enough play for us to remember them, but they receive no additional depth. Even the main characters - the two coaches, Bertier, and Campbell - aren’t terribly well-defined, as the movie prefers to keep things moving among roles rather than really develop anyone.

Frankly, it doesn’t really matter. While Remember the Titans sticks to a fairly light and frothy presentation, it still offers a strong experience. We’ve seen this kind of material many times, but the spirit and enthusiasm behind the project are positive enough to make the film entertaining and moving. A film doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be well-done and enjoyable, and if you’re interested in a rousing little flick, Remember the Titans will be up your alley.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Remember the Titans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although not totally without concerns, as a whole the movie presented a very strong picture.

Sharpness almost always appeared crisp and well-defined. Only a smidgen of softness crept into wider shots. Otherwise, this was a detailed and concise presentation. Unfortunately, some moiré effects appeared as well; blinds, striped shirts and some other objects showed a little shimmering. A bit of light edge enhancement cropped up along the way. Print flaws looked nearly absent. I noticed a speck or two, but that was it during this clean and fresh image.

Colors consistently looked vivid and rich throughout the film. Titans featured a fairly natural palette, and the tones were well-rendered and accurate. Black levels seemed deep and dense, and shadow detail came across as appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. Ultimately, Remember the Titans provided a positive visual experience.

While good, the film’s soundtracks weren’t quite as memorable. Remember the Titans boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes, and I found the two to sound virtually identical. The Dolby track may have provided a smidgen more low end, but otherwise they seemed like clones of each other.

Titans featured a very forward-oriented soundfield that worked well within those confines. The audio spread neatly to the front side channels and the track created a realistic and moderately lively environment in which the audio blended well and moved cleanly across speakers.

As for the surrounds, however, they played a minor role in the production. As a whole, the rear channels offered little more than modest reinforcement of the forward track. If much discrete activity came from the surrounds, I couldn’t detect it. While Titans wasn’t the kind of movie that really needed active surrounds, I nonetheless felt that they could have been better utilized, especially during the football games; a more encompassing mix would have made these segments even more involving.

Audio quality appeared strong for the most part. Dialogue came across as nicely natural and distinct, with no edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was clean and bright, and effects appeared crisp and accurate. The latter worked especially well during the football games, at which time they showed good clarity and impact.

However, the soundtrack lacked very substantial bass. Low-end wasn’t poor, but I felt the mix could have used deeper and more powerful bass, especially during those football games. While the hits seemed forceful, some additional low-end would have made them stronger, and it would have provided more depth to the score as well. In any case, the soundtracks of Remember the Titans seemed largely satisfying.

Disney’s DVD release of Remember the Titans includes a nice complement of supplements, starting with two separate audio commentaries. The first offers the more conventional participants. We hear from director Boaz Yakin, writer Gregory Allen Howard, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. All three men were recorded separately, and the results were edited together for this single coherent product.

Yakin and Howard strongly dominate the proceedings. Bruckheimer provides his standard, generic comments about his philosophies as a filmmaker. I’ve heard a lot of interviews with Bruckheimer, and they almost always come across the same way: mildly interesting but largely uninformative. His statements here are along the same lines, but since Bruckheimer only takes up maybe five or ten minutes of the track, I didn’t mind his presence.

It helps that the remarks from both Howard and Yakin were uniformly compelling. Howard covered his interest in the project and he discussed the reality of the actual situation; he even went into a lot of the creative liberties he took with the history. Yakin concentrated more on the production process itself, and he added a lot of solid information about that side of the coin. Ultimately, the commentary is a deftly edited and very entertaining program.

(By the way, I was happy to hear Howard at least gently acknowledge that Alexandria is close to DC, though he never dispels the notion that it was a small town. However, Howard does offer one odd statement. He relates - correctly - that Virginia lacks a pro football team. He uses this fact as a reason for the alleged popularity of high school football. Unfortunately, this totally ignores the existence of the Redskins, a team that played less than 10 miles from T.C. Williams. The ‘Skins have been the passion of the DC area for many decades, and since Howard apparently lived around here at one point, he really should know that Virginians feel no lack of pro football spirit. Heck, for years our nearest baseball team was in Baltimore, but many of us didn’t even mind that! I’ve happily cheered for the Orioles since childhood - coincidentally, DC lost the Senators in 1971 - and I’m not exactly alone. As such, I don’t think residents of Alexandria circa 1971 glommed onto the Titans because they had no pro football allegiances.)

Even more fun is the second commentary. Taking its cue from similar tracks like the one from Jim and Marilyn Lovell on Apollo 13, we hear from the real-life versions of coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast. The two men were recorded together, though this doesn’t often seem apparent; their interaction was sporadic, which was a mild disappointment. Nonetheless, I found this commentary to provide a largely solid experience. Both coaches give us a lot of detail about their own experiences and their reactions to the film. We learn more about the facts of the true-life situation, and they add a nice perspective on the events in the movie plus their thoughts about coaching in general. It’s a very interesting track that definitely merits a listen.

In addition, Titans tosses in a series of video extras. First up is an ABC TV special called Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes. Hosted by former football great Lynn Swann, this 20-minute and 55-second program offers the usual combination of film clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews with principal participants. The latter include actors Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Ryan Hurst, Wood Harris, Kip Pardue, Ethan Suplee, and we also hear from the three men heard on the first audio commentary plus the two coaches and a nice little mix of many real-life players from the 1971 Titans. In the latter category, we get notes from Fred Alderson, Petey Jones, Robert Luckett, Lee R. Davis, and Julius Campbell.

The involvement of those folks is what makes this show more entertaining than most. As a whole, it’s a superficial promotional piece that mainly tells us what a great movie Titans is, and we find an overabundance of movie snippets. However, it was fun to see the old players, and the brief interview Swann conducts with Boone and Yoast was also well-done. Overall, it’s not a special piece, but a few elements make it pretty good.

Next up are two brief featurettes. Denzel Becomes Boone lasts six minutes and 10 seconds while Beating the Odds runs six minutes and 20 seconds. Essentially, both of these are just extensions of the prior documentary. “Denzel” looks more specifically at the character of Coach Boone, while “Odds” goes into a little more depth about the genesis of the project itself.

They use the same format found in the documentary and clearly come from the same interview sessions; we even hear a few duplicated sound bites. “Denzel” features Bruckheimer, Washington, Boone, Howard, and Yakin, while “Odds” gives us Bruckheimer, Howard, Yakin, Pardue and Walt Disney Studios chairman Peter Schneider. They’re both light and superficial, but they remain acceptably entertaining.

In addition to the theatrical trailer for Titans, we find a Deleted Scenes section. There are six excised clips, and they run for a total of eight minutes. One is actually an extended version of the “getting to know you” montage in which the players learned about each other, but all of the others are true cuts, and most of them focus upon Coach Yoast.

Somewhat surprisingly, I found virtually all of the scenes to be pretty entertaining. One particularly fun one rips off a segment originally cut from Terminator 2 that was restored in the film’s special edition. In that bit, the terminator attempts to smile. Here, we see Coach Boone encouraged to grin, with similarly humorous results. Unfortunately, it was shot poorly, so we can barely see the side of his face that bears the wrinkle. Nonetheless, it’s fun to see, and I liked all of the deleted scenes. My only complaint is that we get no director commentary to discuss why they were left out of the final film.

Kudos to Disney for some nice “user friendliness” on their extras. For one, most of them include subtitles, which is always thoughtful, though absent on most supplements. I was also pleased to notice a “play all” option attached to the three behind the scenes programs and to the deleted scenes. It’s great to be able to let them rip and not have to return to the menu so many times.

The DVD opens with some promos. We get ads for Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 102 Dalmatians, Disney’s The Kid and The Emperor’s New Groove. These also appear under the Sneak Peeks banner.

As is usually the case with films from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Remember the Titans reinvents no wheels and will win no prizes for originality, but in its execution, it proves to be a spirited and energetic look at integration and race relations in the early Seventies. I was put off by some misrepresentations of my home area, but even so, I enjoyed the movie and found it to be fun and compelling.

The DVD provides solid picture with good sound and a nice package of extras. The supplements are led by two strong audio commentaries. If you’re prone to excessive bouts of cynicism, you probably won’t like Remember the Titans, but for folks who enjoy well-told uplifting tales, it should prove to be nicely stimulating.

To rate this film visit the Director's Cut review of REMEMBER THE TITANS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main