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gridiron gang
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Gridiron Gang

Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Xzibit, Kevin Dunn and Leon Rippy
Screenplay by Jeff Maguire
Based on the TV movie by Jac Flanders
Directed by Phil Joanou

IN SHORT: just OK. [Rated PG-13 for some startling scenes of Violence, Mature Thematic Material and Language. 110 minutes]

As it takes two years to bring a film to fruition, it's just about time for another band of juvenile delinquents to find redemption and/or rehabillitation through some kind of sports activity. Basketball's been done to death but football? Football's been done, too, in both a fine documentary and a 1993 teevee movie. Well, folks, this is still the same story -- the one told in both that aforementioned documentary and the teevee flick -- about degenerate kids and the hard-edged supervisor turned coach who brings discipline and self-respect to the mob. Version 2006 offers a movie star name above the title, the star being The Rock, using his given name, Dwayne Johnson.

You wanna make fun of "Dwayne"? Do it to his face. We dare you. Double dare you.

We didn't think so. Let's have a look at this one, shall we?

Fictionalized, for those who haven't been paying attention in class, means some characters are composites of real folks and some are complete fabrications that drive a story along. The rest are based on real folk, specifically probation officers Sean Porter (Dwayne Johnson) and Malcolm Moore (Xzibit) who ran herd over a a mess o' JD's from the mean streets of Los Angeles, locked up at a place called Camp Kilpatrick. "Camp" in this case means a dormitory situation with no jail bars, but an otherwise locked down environment. It's all that Porter and Moore can do to keep the detritus of rival gangs from sharpening their fingernails prior to gutting their enemies. Their solution is to strip the detainees of their ingrained loyalty to their street gangs and build a new 'hood. A 'hood in which the inmates are the only ones worth looking after. A 'hood which will hopefully teach them discipline that comes with adulthood via the virtues of team sport. Some of the supervisory personnel at the camp don't give Porter and Moore's plan the chance of an icicle in hell but on it goes, heavy on the "look and see if it works" brand of evaluation.

Since a lot of Gridiron Gang involves the rehabilitation of violent street thug-types, we thought it would be appropriate to get you up to speed on some of the new lingo heard in this film. So . . .

naked (nek'kid) - A condition during which the human body can be described as unstrapped or not packing, not loaded, not carrying, and or equally defenseless against those that aren't naked. Bereft of armament (for the college educated folks.)

and, no ladies, The Rock does not get naked for this film -- a family friendly juvenile-delinquents-against-the-system film that features characters you wouldn't want to meet on a well lit street (let alone a dark alley) and language that you really don't want your little kidlets to hear, even if they know all of 'em by the time they're ten years old. We planted, curious to find what surprises were in store from this generic-style, even if it's true, story. Would the quarter ton of fun () discover the meaning of "Crash Diet" in English class? Would the short and scrawny kid, nicknamed Bug (Brandon Mychal Smith) hit his puberty growth spurt and find success as the way too skinny running back? What about street gangsta Willie (Jade Yorker) who begins the film with a life in tragedy and goes from there. Would he drop the ball and drop out of school or would he shoot the opposing teams QB? Or maybe he'll shoot Calvin (David Thomas) who runs with an enemy gang. And what about the one and only white kid, Kenny (Trever O'Brien)? What the hell did he do and how's he gonna get killed this time? Wait, that's a different Kenny. Anyways...

We repeat. The setting is a juvenile delinquent detention facility. All welcome. Kids from the streets of LA, where race or cultural background provides enough reason to shoot someone. Can a hodgepodge of cultures and races work together on the gridiron to learn something about real life?

Well, if they couldn't, you wouldn't see this kind of move every two years or so.

Sorry to repeat ourself but you know your kids. If they didn't see this two year's back, here's the current version.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Gridiron Gang , he would have paid . . .


If you don't have kids and just happen to like The Rock, as do we, rent.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.