Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in this gritty and inspirational movie based on a true story of a group of teenage delinquents given a second chance to redeem themselves by playing football. Sean Porter (Johnson) is a frus... more »trated juvenile probation officer. Most of the kids in his detention camp are either sent back to prison once they leave or meet a violent end when they return to the streets. Desperately looking for a way to make a difference, he and his co-worker Malcolm Moore (Xzibit, TV's "Pimp My Ride") devise a plan to teach discipline and responsibility through the game of football. But with only four weeks before the start of the season, Porter must overcome insurmountable odds to put together a competitive team. It's a season that will test their minds, spirit, and bodies as Porter teaches his players the principles of good character, strength through resiliency, and genuine respect for one another.« less
Michael Zuffa | Racine, WI United States | 10/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Gridiron Gang" is the true story of Sean Porter (The Rock), a detention camp officer who tries to make something out of the kids in the camp at which he works. He attempts to instill discipline, honor, teamwork, and pride through football. He feels that this will help to keep them from going back to their old lifestyle once released. He wants to help them break the cycle of violence. Initially met with some resistance, he manages to schedule a season and help the kids make something of themselves.
While being a typical "feel good" sports movie, "Gridiron Gang" feels less clichéd than the majority of these kinds of films. The acting is good all around, and The Rock is well suited for the role of Porter. It is truly remarkable what the real Sean Porter accomplished. I liked this film more than I anticipated, and recommend it. "
Don't mistake this film for another football movie
Ash1138 | Centennial, CO United States | 10/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What Gridiron Gang lacks cinematic acheivement, it more than makes up for in heart.
For those that don't know, Gridiron Gang is based on the documentary of the same name which itself was the true account of a youth correctional facility using the sport of football to teach kids all the things the normal process was failing to do. It's an important film because it, like the documentary, point out real problems that cities all over this country have not only with youth crime but most importantly the failure we are as a society to rehabilitate.
The previews, and indeed the film, focus a lot on the football aspects of this film almost to a fault. I say this because this story is about the achievements made with these kids off the field rather than on it. We shouldn't be caring so much about whether these kids win a football game as much as we should be caring whether they do something to cause them to end up back in prison. I say almost to a fault because while there are considerable football scenes, it is important to see these kids' achievements on the field in order to make sense of their acheivements off it, and while there may be a lot of action on the field, it never overshadows the fact that this is a tough-love teacher film a la 'Lean on Me' and 'Stand and Deliver', not a sports movie.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as coach Sean Porter isn't going to be winning any academy awards for this film, but he does show considerable screen presence and enough talent as an actor to pull off a dramatic role like this. Xybit as Malcome Moore not only adds a certain credibility to this film, but I found his parts to be to few and far between which should speak to his talents. The rest of the cast and especially the kids I found to be highly believable. A few times the dialogue they would have to say was a bit too cheesy (or too profound), but one can hardly fault them for that.
The strength of this film lies in the characters and the story. Sean Porter is a hero who had to fight against a society that doesn't care about these kids. These kids, while criminals deserving punishment (and rehabilitation), are kids who live in a world where any one of us would likely have grown up the same way. Sean Porter doesn't work miracles and turn all these kids into honor students and model citizens. What he does is sacrifice of himself to make a dent. There is a touching realism to that as well as a profound realization that we could make miracles instead of dents if the rest of us were more like Sean Porter.
Gridiron Gang is a very enjoyable film. It has it's flaws, but at it's core it's a very human film capable of winning you over with it's moving and inspirational story. I found myself questioning some directorial decisions of the film, but I was never bored. It will almost certainly find it's way into my DVD collection eventually."
Great movie. One of the best of 2006.
Sally H. Powers | Lumberton, NC USA | 01/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would recommend this movie for anyone who wishes to watch a film that shows true emotion, that shows real characters overcoming obstacles in their lifes. This is without a doubt, The Rock's best performances in a movie. So if you enjoy a hard-hitting, emotional underdog story, then pick up The Gridiron Gang, because it won't disappoint. Absolutely awesome movie in my opinion. Its worth your money."
"The Rock" of Gibraltar
Interplanetary Funksmanship | Vanilla Suburbs, USA | 05/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Who really wants to see another feel-good movie about a tough educator who takes on both the most violent juvenile delinquents and "the system," raising them from the abyss of failure and imprisonment to success that they wouldn't have dared dream of only months before? Do we really need another formulaic sports flick, "based on a true story" about a coach taking his rag-tag team of underdogs all the way to the city championship?
You bet we do!
In what's being touted as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's dramatic debut, Gridiron Gang showcases both the former professional wrestler's physical prowess and his emerging acting chops as tough-as-nails juvenile detention officer Sean Porter. Frustrated by the 75 percent recidivism rate of the teen felons in his charge at the Camp Kilpatrick reformatory in Los Angeles County, Porter sees that the vicious circle of violence, gang activity, and growing up without fathers has doomed them to wasted lives behind bars.
He keeps sending one troubled kid in particular, Roger (Michael J. Pagan), to "the hole" for punishment.
"Where're you gonna be in four years?" Porter grills him.
"In jail," the sulking youth answers.
"No! You're going to be dead!"
Sure enough, even though Roger is trying to go straight, while on release a week later he is gunned down in a drive-by shooting while hanging out with his old gang. Soon Roger's brother Willie (Jade Yorker) winds up at the same reformatory when he shoots his mother's abusive live-in boyfriend.
Driving home from work one night, Porter spots a group of kids playing football under the lights and has an inspiration. As a last-ditch effort to try to turn around the presumably unsalvageable lives of Camp Kilpatrick's murderers, rapists, and carjackers, he launches a football program.
Porter cajoles many of the toughest youths to join the Mustang team, where nobody gets a free ride and membership has to be earned. Attempting to convince the skeptical administration to fund his team, he reminds them that "these kids have never worked hard for anything in their lives." Once his kids amble onto the practice field, they learn that being tough is more than bullying and posturing, but requires discipline, commitment, and self-restraint.
What impressed me most were the sequences in which Porter builds up the team, drilling them through tough workouts and scrimmages, testing their endurance, and, for the first time in their lives, forging their characters. As with Spencer Tracy's Father Flanagan in the 1938 classic Boys Town, Porter operates on the premise that his boys are not inherently bad. "You are somebody," he tells them, "and are worthy of something." But his attempts to inspire the team go beyond mere pep talks: Porter instills in them the lesson that true self-esteem can be gained only by achievement, not merely by inflating their egos with false praise. "It's a whole new world out there when you earn things," he tells them.
Having Coach Porter as the first man in their lives to believe in them and serve as a father figure fills the youths with false expectations at their first game. Despite a couple of good tackles early on, the Mustangs get a rude awakening once their opponents gather steam. After getting stomped on for a 38-0 loss, not only do many on the team start to question whether the football program is worth it, but so do some of Camp Kilpatrick's administrators.
"We wanted to create self-esteem, but it was just the opposite," one of them laments to Porter. "These kids can't handle that kind of disappointment. We have to pull the plug."
Just as everyone seems willing to throw in the towel, one of Porter's players, Junior (Setu Taase), discovers that self-esteem is more than immediate gratification, and requires diligent effort even in the face of crushing defeat. Junior convinces his teammates why they must not give up. "It's like I told you, Coach," he explains to Porter, "we're tired of being losers." Predictably, the Mustangs improve and fight their way to the playoffs.
While the action on the field is shot a little too claustrophobically with telephoto lenses, the movie as a whole doesn't suffer much. Trevor Rabin (of the group Yes) provides an emotionally rousing soundtrack. But the pillar of the film is The Rock, who supports it with a strong performance. A former University of Miami football standout, he brings credibility and conviction to his role. While he's come a long way from his "Layeth the Smacketh Down" WWF days, The Rock is still not exactly an accomplished and subtle actor. Of course, tough kids don't need understatement and nuance--they need sturdy and straightforward. Think Lee Marvin's Major Reisman from The Dirty Dozen, crossed with Glenn Ford's Mr. Dadier in Blackboard Jungle.
In the durable genre of tough educators who turn around troubled inner-city youths, The Rock's turn on screen in Gridiron Gang doesn't rise to the level of Morgan Freeman's breakthrough performance in Lean on Me (1989), or Sidney Poitier's memorable turn in To Sir, with Love (1967). Neither does Gridiron Gang belong in the same league with other great sports flicks about underdog teams who go all the way to the top, like Hoosiers (1986) or Friday Night Lights (2004).
But, as a movie which straddles both genres, it really gels and will lift the spirits of most viewers. Sure, Gridiron Gang is formulaic. But what makes it enjoyable and moving is the true-life example of how one man turns around the lives of troubled kids by instilling them with pride, faith in themselves, and awareness that they are not born criminals, but possess the free will to make productive lives for themselves.
No-excuses self-esteem requires a formula, too; and Gridiron Gang shows how it's done."
Heartwarming and the Hunk
sally smith | Mustang Ranch, NV | 02/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Heartwarming. It will make you laugh, make you cry. Make you want to work out.
I loved this movie. Based on a true story - at the end, they show the real guys - liked that.
the Rock, is a hunk, no need to argue that. Hot. mmmmmm. But, more importantly, he was really good in this film. He is a worker at this prison for boys, and gets disgusted with the return rate, and death rate of the kids who get out. so, he comes up with a plan to help these boys.
as a mommy, I loved all the boys. wanted to hug them all. sniff. very good casting of all of the kids.
truly a heartwarming story. good for kids over 14. swearing and some violence. actually would be very educational for boys that think they are real "tough" - hummm, I can think of a few! Good lessons, good entertainment.