We Are Marshall
Being a newsperson, I couldn't believe I had never heard about the tragic Nov. 14, 1970 plane crash that killed the coach, most of the team and coaching staff and a group of fans from Marshall University in West Virginia. I became intrigued when I saw the previews for the movie "We Are Marshall," which chronicled the months and the beginning of the football season after the crash.
The main players in the movie and Jack Lingyel (played by Matthew McConaughey), who took over the head coaching position, and Red Dawson (played by Matthew Fox), the Marshall assistant coach who gave up his seat on the ill-fated flight so a friend could make it home to see his granddaughter's piano recital.
The main plot is Lingyel's effort to rebuild the Marshall football program and the spirit of the remaining players (there are four). The subplot, which I found more riveting, was Dawson's internal tug-of-war — the guilt over not being on the plane when he was supposed to have been and his relief at having escaped the crash when his co-workers and players didn't.
This was the best movie I have seen in a long time (and the second in a row ... the last was "Talledaga Nights" ... that my husband and I watched together in the theater and both liked). I used to love Matthew Fox on "Party of Five," and I fell in love with him all over again. I'm not a huge Matthew McConaughey fan — I don't intentionally go to movies just to see him — but somehow I always end up really enjoying his movies (I own "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "Failure to Launch").
"We Are Marshall" was heartbreaking, yet inspiring. I liked that it showed the strength of Lingyel's and Dawson's marriages during times of crisis, change and tragedy.
I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs-up. The movie probably won't be in theaters much longer, but when it becomes available for rental, I highly recommend it. There's no sex, not a lot of swearing (I think the "s" word is used twice or three times, and the f-bomb is never dropped). If your kids can grasp the plane crash thing (the crash itself isn't shown, but there are scenes of firefighters and paramedics combing the fiery wreckage ... nothing graphic is shown), it's a good family film.