Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I had quite a revelation tonight.

We're all adults, right? Of course we are, as children don't read words on the internet. And if there's one thing adults know, it's that you shouldn't ever, ever look behind the curtain.

I don't know about you, but in every industry I've ever worked in, be it retail, restaurant or even education (shit, what a lousy career path that is...yikes), in my opinion, the less you know about what really goes on the better. Yes, ignorance is bliss, it's true, but unfortunately, it's also ignorance. And no one likes feeling stupid.

Not even football fans.

And remember, those are the kind of people who will give up a perfectly beautiful Sunday with their sit inside all f--king day and watch commercials for beer and boner pills with the occasional exciting play thrown in. Those are the kind of people who will not only pay an obscene amount of money to go to the stadium to watch millionaires play a game, but they'll even more to have that stadium built in the first place.

I should know. I'm one of those people. But I'm trying to be better. Really.

This past Sunday...instead of watching football? Well...I watched a movie. About football.

After missing two chances at lighter fare (late arrival for one, sold out for another), my wife and I actually managed to successfully enter a movie theater to catch Will Smith's latest film, Concussion. While the preview essentially told you everything you need to know (a frightening trend, no?), director Peter Landesman's film still manages to remain engaging for its just-over-two-hour run time. Interesting? Yes. Enjoyable? Not really.

Will Smith is quietly fantastic in his portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man responsible for discovering the traumatic brain condition known as CTE. Omalu, born in Nigeria, was a small-time forensic doctor in Pittsburgh, before he pieced together the long-lasting implications that playing football has on one's brain. And in doing so, angered the then (currently?) invincible behemoth known as the National Football League. Talk about a one-sided matchup.

Omalu's story is certainly worth telling, but for whatever reason, something's missing. Maybe it's that they left something out, or maybe it's that I knew too much, but Concussion, despite a tremendous performance from Will Smith, isn't the blow to the...heart...I was expecting.

I love when they show the microscopic slides...
.....and then fail to explain what we're looking at.
Dr. Omalu, like many people not born here, loves America. But when he supposedly comes after America's game, he quickly sees the backward nature of how things are done. He has information that will help many, but could potentially hurt the profits of a few. And instead of being allowed, Hell, encouraged to speak up, Omalu's life and family are threatened. It's a sick tale, sadly diluted by its overwhelming familiarity.

If you've ever seen a film about a whistleblower, trust me, you know what you're getting into. The problem, however, is the ending, as Consussion doesn't conclude with David slaying Goliath, but more like Goliath patting David on the head and sending him on his way. Worse, it's not even one of those frustrating  f--k you ________ (insert industry title here)! endings, as the NFL kind of acknowledges the whole thing and simply pays everybody off. Yeah it's disgusting, but nothing to lose your mind about.

Poor choice of words, huh?

Also a poor choice of everything, are the Yays and Boos. We're all planning to give up the watching football cold turkey, which is pretty honorable if I do say so myself. So, starting in February...

  • The opening scene where Omalu rambles on about his qualifications is pretty f--king fantastic.
  • So, Pittsburgh, even though it's kind of part of the problem, really is a fantastic city. To visit.
  • I hope my autopsy is that romantic. Damn, those some groovy beats.
  • As I love me some awkwardness, let me put my hands together for hitting the club with Dr. Omalu (and his lovely ladyfriend).
  • This might be a Boo, but the English translation of Omalu's African name is about as fitting as any name ever could be. It's like if my name translated to Useless A-hole Wasting Everyone's Time, but even more fitting.
  • Albert Brooks damn near stole the show as Dr. Cyril Wecht, Omalu's boss and good friend. I love it when Brooks isn't even playing shady, but something still feels kind of off about the guy.
  • And finally, though there were a few of them, let me tell you about the punch to the gut that I most enjoyed. As things are beginning to really unravel, Landesman creates this scene I will never forget. In dramatic slow-motion, cheering, ravenous fans, are juxtaposed with an ex-player losing his mind in front of his wife and young children. Maybe it's a bit overdramatic, sure, but it's easily the scene I will most remember from this film, hard as it was to watch.
This is the commissioner of the NFL. This still? His entire part in the film.
  • Wait. Do doctors really just stick a needle...right through your shirt?
  • One ex-athlete was so far down the rabbit hole, he was actually pulling his teeth out and gluing them back in? What the f--k?
  • Dr. Omalu suspected something was up, and ordered more tests. Well, turns out...he had to pay for them. Literally.
  • I hope it's fake, though I suspect the opposite, but we're treated to some awful YouTube style footage of little dudes playing football and it made me want to throw up. F--k that shit.
  • Mike O'Malley always struck me as a good dude, right? Makes his turn as biggest dick ever, Dr. Danny Sullivan even more surprising. (but seriously, f--k Sullivan - what a douche)
  • Luke Wilson shows up for a minute and plays Roger Goodell. Read that again. 
  • Alec Baldwin shows up, and surprise! He's kind of a slimeball. That's not the Boo, however, as his consistently inconsistent southern accent is. 
  • There's this grand speech at the end, to be given by Dr. Omalu. Spolier Alert: We don't get to hear it. From anyone.
  • And finally, ESPN and the NFL. Even though as kids we got The NFL's HARDEST HITS with our paid subscriptions to Sports Illustrated (ah, the ignorant eighties), seeing replays of NFL Countdown's Jacked Up! segment was equal parts embarrassing and nauseating. Yeah, it's bad enough I used to watch that shit, but to hear ex-players laughing about guys getting lit up? Absolutely disgusting. 

Football is not going to go away, nor do I want it to. But seeing what becomes of these gladiators sure does take a lot of the fun out of it, you know? I realize they know what they're getting into, and that some get paid rather handsomely to do it, but still. Some of these guys are totally f--ked when it's all over. Even some of my favorite players on my favorite team. Shit. They're going to lose everything.

Just not the Super Bowl, okay?

Cause that's, like...all that matters.


  1. I literally have no idea when this comes out here but Smith's Globe nomination got me interested. Plus I know nothing about NFL so I'm sure I'll learn something, if nothing else. Great review!

    1. I would love to hear your take on it, as someone who doesn't really know much about the NFL. I wonder how effective the movie is, if the viewer lacks all sorts of (pathetic) background me.


  2. I might check it out on DVD, but the trailer (and Smith's accent in the trailer) didn't sell me. Luke Wilson though. lol

    1. I think he does a great job with the accent, but the trailer did make it seem ridiculous. TELL THE TRUTH. Tellthetruth.

      But really laughable is Wilson as Goodell. Good grief.

  3. The reality of the truth behind things like this makes me hate one should be ok with this.

    1. That's pretty much the most logical conclusion in situations like this: hating everyone.

      Seriously, you're exactly right, no one should be okay with this, but they in actually skew in the opposite direction - they love it.

      It kind of makes me sick.

    2. My conclusion to anything I don't agree with is just to hate everyone involved.


  4. I didn't care for Will Smith in this but I definitely thought Albert Brooks stole the show and yes, did not like Mike O'Malley being the bad guy!!! Just didn't seem right.

    1. Really? I thought Smith was really, really good. There were times I actually forgot that that dude on screen was WILL SMITH: MOVIE STAR.

      Brooks was so awesome. Such a likable guy, even if he seemed just a bit shady...probably for no other reason that he was played by Brooks, huh?

      O'Malley supposed to be the main guy's good-natured friend. Not a super a-hole that no one likes. Boo on that, I say.

  5. Crickey, before reading your post I had no idea what this movie was even about. Great review, though! I do want to give this a go, but it's just moved a few spots down my must watch list, ha.
    - Allie

    1. Crikey!

      The whole movie is kind of a bummer, but if you do see it, I hope you enjoy it, much as you can.

  6. I'll probably pass on watching this movie and just read an article about the subject. :-)

    1. Not a bad plan, Steph. But if your hubby likes football, might make for a decent watch together, you know? It's at the very least interesting...even if just a little bit.