If a fictional film carried the story line of "Undefeated" a white coach leads an underdog inner-city high-school football team to victory, teaching lessons in character to the African-American players along the way it would be decried as a cliche-ridden retread of "The White Shadow," "Dangerous Minds" and a thousand other Hollywood stories.
This story is true, though: The coach, Bill Courtney, works to inspire the players of the Manassas Tigers, near Memphis, Tenn., once a perennial 0-10 doormat and, in the 2009 season chronicled in this Oscar-winning documentary, poised to win.
Directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin delve into the issues of 21st-century sports and highlight several players, including a college prospect trying to improve his grades and a smart student discouraged by a knee injury. But the power of those cliches is irresistible, and Lindsay and Martin ultimately deliver the heart-tugging sports drama that's expected of them.
Opens Friday, May 11, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for some language; 113 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit nowsaltlake.com/movies.