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Gridiron Gang


Stars: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Xzibit, Jade Yorker, Leon Rippy, Jurnee Smollett

Director: Phil Joanou

A well-meaning, well-made, but oh-so-familiar, based-on-truth tale of one man, Sean Porter (Johnson) making a difference. In this case, that means taking juvenile detainees and moulding them into a fighting football side. 'Teamwork for them.' he's told, 'is four homeboys robbing a liquor store.'

Still, in an environment where 75% of junior felons return to prison or die on the street, Porter (in between nursing his ailing mother) persists and, with a mixture of bullying and encouragement, wins over even the most rebellious of the teenagers (Yorker).

After a disastrous start, the team begins to win and you can pretty well predict the rest. 'The last touchdown,' the team tells Porter, 'is gonna be for your mom.' And so to the final match, which just has to be against the team who thrashed them in their first game.

Gaffe-spotters will need to watch for the scene where Porter receives a get-well card for his mother from his 30-strong squad. 'We all signed it, coach,' he's told. But there are no more than a dozen signatures on the card.

Not un-entertaining then, but desperately unoriginal.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by De Luxe.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 28 Jan 2007