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Remember the Titans: Director's Cut

Consider Denzel Washington the MVP of Hollywood's first-string — no matter what game you put him in, he will make the entire team better. And nothing proves that quite as much as Remember the Titans (2000), a high school football saga and Important Lesson by way of the Jerry Bruckheimer school of moviemaking. Washington stars as Herman Boone, an up-and-coming football coach who finds himself in the midst of an unwelcome conflict in 1971 Alexandria, Va. After the town's two high schools are forced to integrate, the newly named T.C. Williams High becomes a flashpoint for deep-seeded racial tensions, both among whites, who fear the breakdown of color lines, and blacks, who are convinced they'll never get a fair shake from the establishment. The drama even invades the sacrosanct turf of football — veteran coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) finds it hard enough to believe that the black Coach Boone has been forced onto his squad as an assistant by the school board, but he barely knows how to react when back-room politicos hand Boone the top job at the last minute. Before long, Yoast announces his departure from T.C. Williams, although a brief détente eventually brings him back to the fold as the defensive coordinator. None of which means that he and Boone like each other very much… or that their racially divided team will find any way to work together as a cohesive unit. While not the highest-grossing film in über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer's considerable catalog, Remember the Titans has its fans, and folks who find themselves normally drawn to broadly sketched, uplifting stories doubtless mark this title among their favorites. Nonetheless, it fails to rank with the best entries in the high-school sports genre. Friday Night Lights is perhaps the surest of the type — like Titans, it's based on a true story, but it also takes in the full scope of a sports-mad small town and its corrosive influences (Varsity Blues does the same, although with a decidedly lighter touch). And Hoosiers remains unparalleled, mostly due to strong leading performances from Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey. In fact, what makes the above films special is how much they focus beyond the locker room, sounding out the lives of the coaches, the players, and their families. Remember the Titans tries to offer the same scope, but lacks the subtle human textures that matter most, opting instead for archetypal conflicts, uplifting moments, and lessons learned while the team battles their way to an entirely predictable state championship. It's racial drama by way of Hollywood summer action, with only hippie quarterback 'Sunshine' Ronnie Bass (Kip Pardue) breaking the template enough to keep things interesting. As for Denzel, he seems less of a character here and more of a presence, an authority figure who's grounded by his A-list credentials. And for that, Remember the Titans is something less that what it could have been. Even if it has the best soundtrack of just about any movie you could think of. Buena Vista's DVD release of Remember the Titans: Director's Cut clocks in at two hours — seven minutes longer that the theatrical release — with a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include four deleted scenes and three featurettes, "Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes" (20 min.), "Denzel Becomes Boone" (6 min.), and "Beating the Odds" (6 min.). Keep-case.

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