Under the Stadium Lights is the most generic of underdog stories. Based on a true story, the film is about a Texas high school football team that everyone has counted out. Guided by their team chaplain (Milo Gibson) and the team’s father figure (Laurence Fishburne), they set out to overcome the odds. Naturally, this requires plenty of self discovery and motivational speeches.
It is not so much about whether the movie is good, but if it can bring anything new to the genre. Audiences tend to like underdog stories. This does not give free reign to produce a rehash, however. Calling Under the Stadium Lights a retread may be a unfair, but there certainly is not much to the plot. The main hook here seems to be the strong Christian message that surrounds the film. More specifically, the theme of being your brother’s keeper. Again, this is standard fare for this type of story.
One reason it does not work here is the lack of camaraderie in the film. It is not that they are not a good team or that they do not get along. It simply never really seems like the players are there to help each out during their off field struggles. It is a shocking omission since these are the moments that separate films of the same genre.
Under the Stadium Lights also struggles to explain what the team is actually overcoming. Especially since they were a great team before a shocking upset and continued to dominate opponents the next season. This is not a feel good story about a team of scrappy underdogs. It is a story about a good Texas high school football team that had a few undersized (by Texas standards) players. As overwhelming odds go, that is pretty lame.
Even then, things can be saved if there are strong enough characters. The movie fumbles yet again, providing no stand outs for the audience to get behind. The acting is fine, but save Fishburne, there is a noticeable lack of charisma in Under the Stadium Lights. Unfortunately, the film fails on both sides of the ball.
Under the Stadium Lights comes to select theaters, on digital, and on demand June 4
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