The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Remember the Titans

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Remember the Titans”
Rated PG

Locked deep in Disney’s vaults, there must be outtakes of Denzel Washington cracking up during a two-minute warning of particularly wimpy sentiment in 2000’s “Remember the Titans.”

The standard analogy of football to warfare turned ludicrous when Washington — having jogged his high-school squad to Gettysburg at dawn — likened these teenagers’ struggles with racism to Civil War battles between the blue and gray. That mist in the air? The steam’s coming off something.

It’s the only hokey Hail Mary in “Titans” — an otherwise smart, stirring sports film with gridiron hits (and tragic circumstances) that truly hurt. Even taking liberal dramatic license with the truth, Boaz Yakin’s film forcefully addressed plots of prejudice and privilege that “The Blind Side” lazily whitewashed years later.

Seizing on discord as something to transcend, Herman Boone (Washington), a black coach hired amid racial strife in 1970s Virginia, assembles an improbably successful season with white assistant coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton), whom he’s replaced.

Consider “Titans” a PG-rated, kind-hearted drill for Washington’s brutal “Training Day” sadism a year later. With a tough-talking vision to impart lessons in humility and humiliation, Boone fearlessly builds character by tearing down bad habits. His hard-line tactics also fuel compelling tension, opposition and eventual respect with Yoast. (Often asked only to bellow and bluster, Patton displays powerful depth and nuance.)

These coaches also learn the challenge of successfully backing talk with walk, and “Titans” earns its old-fashioned rah-rah-sis-boom-bah in an ironman-football finale, when the team and town muster strength through unexpected anguish.

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5 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Remember the Titans”

  1. […] and directed by Boaz Yakin of “Remember the Titans” fame, the film pairs up new-era action stud Jason Statham with first-timer Catherine Chan. Statham […]

  2. Navdeep Singh says:

    I dont think I will ever get tired of watching this movie.

  3. candi says:

    This is a classic! I watched this movie several times!

  4. Nick Rogers says:

    Danielle: It does hold up very well, and Disney had a pretty incredible run of factually based sports films for awhile (this, "The Rookie," "Miracle"). And while I like Hayden Panettiere, I hope she finds a better outlet than the trainwreck "Heroes" ended up becoming. Thanks for reading!

  5. I saw this powerful film again just recently. Great (true) story and excellent acting all around, even by the team players with few or no lines. I was surprised to see Hayden Panattiere as Sheryl, the daughter of coach Yoast. Child actors can succeed in Hollywood…