True confession time, I am not a football fan but I was a fan of what I saw of Kurt Warner in the Superbowl with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. I am also a huge fan of Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin. I’ve watched both in various television shows and films, both are skilled and emotional actors. So I was looking forward to American Underdog and hoped for a good film just based on their acting. Once I watched the film, I was impressed with the story, the emotional ups, and downs, and the acting was phenomenal.

American Underdog is a biographical sports drama about National Football League player Kurt Warner. Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, it chronicles Kurt Warner’s (Zachary Levi) journey from an undrafted player as he goes from stocking shelves in a grocery store to arena football to ascend to winning Superbowl XXXIV. During his path to the NFL, he meets the love of his life, Brenda (Anna Paquin), and her children, impacted particularly by her son Zack (Haydon Zaller) who faced life challenges himself and inspired Kurt. With the help of coaches, like St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil (Dennis Quaid), Kurt takes that inspiration as it leads him to success. The film also stars Cindy Hogan as Kurt’s mother Sue, Bruce McGill as Jim Foster, coach of Kurt Warner’s arena football team, and Ser’Darius Blain as a teammate from college and arena bowl.

There are many aspects of this film that just impressed me. From the very beginning, I found myself invested in the journey of Kurt Warner. The story was engaging and compelling. You are led through both the most hopeful times of Kurt Warner’s life as well as his darkest. His struggles make for a dramatic and heartwarming movie that demonstrates the emotional bond between Kurt, Brenda, and their children. From the first moment, the film shows how much Kurt is touched by and inspired by Brenda and Zack. Despite Zack being blind, he exceeded all expectations and in turn, compelled Kurt to do the same. It is impossible to watch this film and not feel the same hopefulness. These moments, both the warm and loving but also the dark and heartbreaking makes for a very dramatic and endearing movie.


Zachary Levi as Kurt Warner in American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story. Photo Credit: Michael Kubeisy/Lionsgate

One of the other elements is the humor and warmth of the film. Surprisingly, not all the humor comes from Zachary Levi. While he has moments, especially his ability to charm and use wry humor, most of the comedic moments come from the character of Zack, who is completely adorable and has funny lines of dialogue. The other actor that is hilarious is Ser’Darius Blain as he teases his friend Kurt and has some of the funniest lines in the film.

The chemistry between Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin helps the film shine as well. Their dynamic is warm, loving, and authentic. Both actors do a wonderful job of feeling like they are in love and are true partners, just like the real couple. Zachary Levi is great at portraying love and caring while Anna Paquin is fiery, supportive, and loving. And the way they portray working together through everyday triumphs and struggles adds to the beauty of the story.

Anna Paquin as Brenda Meoni and Zachary Levi as Kurt Warner in American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story. Photo Credit: Michael Kubeisy

The performances beyond the emotional bond are also excellent. Zachary Levi is warm, hopeful, and charming as Kurt Warner. He also portrays the character as resilient and willing to support his family through difficult times. Anna Paquin as Brenda Warner is brilliant. She portrays Brenda as fiery, protective, and loving, willing to do anything for her children with love for her husband. Hayden Zaller as Zack is witty, kind, and perfect in the role. He is true to the behavior of a child yet as charming as Zachary Levi. He also steals every scene he’s in. Ser’Darius is funny and witty and a great addition to the film, especially as he adds to the humor and fun, adding lightness to some darker scenes. Cindy Hogan is fantastic as Sue Warner, ably illustrating her as a single mother who is there for her son throughout. Bruce McGill is tough and funny as Jim Foster and Dennis Quaid is awesome as coach Dick Vermeil. There are no bad performances in the film.

Dennis Quaid as Dick Vermeil and Zachary Levi as Kurt Warner in American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story. Photo Credit: Michael Kubeisy/Lionsgate

One of the few elements that might be an issue is the film is predictable, especially if you have read about Kurt Warner or know of his story already. Despite that slight problem, the film makes the viewer root for the victory of Kurt Warner. Even though I knew of him from the Arizona Cardinals, I knew next to nothing of his history and story, so I found myself excited and profoundly impressed with his struggles and successes. So if you don’t mind knowing or predicting the story, you will still find the film exciting and dramatic.

If you love football and you have followed Kurt Warner’s career, you will find this film compelling, emotional, and heartwarming. It is a story not just about his career as a football player but also about his relationship with Brenda, Zack, and his friends. Without all those elements, none of it would work. Nevertheless, I loved this film. It was beautiful, engaging, and well worth watching, especially at the end as you root for Kurt to win.

Rating: 4.5 games out of 5.
Official Website: American Underdog | Official Movie Site | Lionsgate
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American Underdog

Genre: Biography/Drama/Sport

AMERICAN UNDERDOG tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner’s unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player – but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. AMERICAN UNDERDOG is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination. AMERICAN UNDERDOG opens exclusively in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25, 2021.

ONE-LINER: The story of NFL MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback, Kurt Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a supermarket to becoming an American Football star.

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