Buena Vista Home Video
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Walt Disney Pictures scored a surprise box-office hit with Invincible, and the movie deserved its good reviews as a fine example of how above-average writing, direction, and casting can turn formulaic material into something special. And make no mistake, this is a formulaic movie, with its real-life story embellished with Rocky-like enthusiasm, and lovingly crafted with the same quality of working-class humanism that made The Rookie a similarly popular Disney hit. This time, the inspirational true story is that of Vince Papale, a down-on-his-luck substitute teacher in Philadelphia (played by Mark Wahlberg in a nicely understated performance) who was 30 years old, out of work, abandoned by his wife, and biding time as a bartender when he answered an open call for tryouts on the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team in 1976. Going with his gut instinct, new coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) rewards Papale's diligent efforts with a place on the team, and Invincible combines gridiron guts, low-key romance (as Papale meets his future wife-to-be, played by Elizabeth Banks) and blue-collar friendship in an underdog story that moves, with casual charm and abundant appeal, toward a rousing feel-good finish. Making good use of digital visual effects to recreate Philly's now-demolished Veterans Stadium, director Erickson Core (also serving as his own cinematographer) tackles this heartwarming assignment with intelligence and flair, spinning gold from what could have been just another routine sports movie. --Jeff Shannon