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Remember the Titans (2000) starstarstar

Reviewed 2001-06-24
: I held off seeing this one because they had refused to cast me in a day-player role while I was living in Atlanta. It's the true story of newly appointed African-American coach Boone (Denzel Washington) and his high school Second Look Reviewteam on their first season as a racially integrated unit. Coach Boone is brought in as part of an affirmative action program, so the T.C. Williams high school coach (Will Patton) is passed over.

Of course there is tension, jealousy, hatred and even some betrayal, but by the end of this film -- no surprise here -- we seem to have overcome our fears of the unknown and begun acting like adults. But the road to accepting each other as individuals, rather than as group members, is a bumpy one. It's one thing to accept each other, black and white, at football camp. It's quite another, the team finds, to live it in the real world when school opens in the fall.

With sports as a metaphor for society, this film works as an uplifting model of interracial utopia, but I have a major problem with the Coach Boone role, and Denzel Washington in particular. Washington is a fine actor, but he keeps playing the same role. He is too perfect: he is the archetypal, the quintessential black man, the perfect human being. I see this in all of his movies and he never changes. I've said the same about Meg Ryan, who seems always to play those too-cute-for-words female roles, but she has broken out of that type a few times (Restoration, Proof of Life). Washington has yet to play anything less than an icon.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.