American Underdog: The Kurt Warner story. Another Irwin Brothers winner!
“American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story” is a new movie based on Kurt’s book, All Things Possible: My story of Faith, Football and the Miracle Season. The Irwin Brothers hit a home run again. Or a touchdown in this case. This movie had a different feel from the start: not the usual type of spiritually impacting Christian movie you might expect from the Irwin Brothers. (Producers of “I can Only Imagine and “I still believe: The Jeremy Camp Story.”)
And it’s also not just another inspiring football movie like “Rudy.” It’s the story of a man and woman who have pretty banged up lives but find that they have one thing in common: both Kurt Warner (played by Zachery Levi) and his wife to be Brenda (played by Anna Paquin) don’t play victims in life because of their setbacks. You begin to see from the start that both are clearly cut from the same bold cloth. They both have faced some brutal obstacles and dysfunctional family backgrounds but refuse to let it hold them back. These two have the hearts of winners.
Brenda is a delightful strong woman who is doing her best to survive some tough obstacles life has thrown at her. And Kurt is an irresistibly likable guy who chooses to walk right into her messy life and love her unconditionally. Though for a long time, her trust issues kept him at a distance. But you begin seeing the real character, the kindness, the toughness, and the optimistic spirit these two are made of. And it’s inspiring.
Later, the roles are reversed. His hopes of an NFL football career seem to be dead in the water and he is financially struggling to support his young family. (Even to the point of having to live on food stamps, having their utilities turned off in the middle of winter and running out of gas in a dangerous snowstorm.) He felt like a loser. But Brenda did not kick him when he was down. Instead, she was his cheerleader who pushed him to consider a job every NFL hopeful despised: joining with the new Arena League. Out of utter exasperation, he went with the oddball minor football league to bring in much needed support for the family. Little did they know, this little football outfit would sharply hone his passing skills to the point of becoming an outstanding quarterback in the NFL several years later.
But as he began to finally taste a bit of success with the Arena League, (and much needed financial relief) it was a lifestyle the two were not prepared for and it severely strained their relationship. It took a tragedy to show them that they needed each other to face both the ups and the downs of life. And these two do work SO well together.
Back to the “Christian message” of the movie. It’s there but you must wait for it. The producers don’t try to connect every dot in their spiritual journey. It’s subtle compared to all other Christian films you have seen. This is not an evangelistic movie. Or a movie with overt Christian themes throughout. Like real life, it’s woven into the fabric of their day to day, year to year struggles. But it’s there and is eventually articulated quite clearly.
Oh, and the football scenes are a really satisfying experience for any real football fan. It’s very hard hitting and believable.
In “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story”, The Irwin Brothers have produced another outstanding movie. A great love story. A great football story of the underdog who kept his dream alive when it was all but dead. Only to rise years later to the pinnacle of NFL success: The Superbowl. But it was with the help and support of an amazing woman by his side. A woman who was every bit the winner he was. Which is why they clicked. As we do eventually see, Kurt Warner realizes that only God could have orchestrated what some people have called “the most remarkable football comeback story of all time.”
Rick McConnell is a nationally syndicated radio host and owner of Monumental Studios, Denver. Online at https://www.monumentalstudiosdenver.com/