Thursday, February 02, 2006

next up on netflix

At first, I was drawn by car-wreck curiosity. I admit that.

It's not every day you see disabled people smash the hell out of each other in gladiator-style, Mad Max wheelchairs.

Then, I was lured by the stories behind the injuries. They're all riveting. When the movie "Murderball" came out last summer, I did a story on our local quadriplegic rugby team, and I haven't cared about a story for a long time like I did that one.

I watched the movie last night for the first time since last summer, and cannot say enough about it. It might be the best sports movie ever. It's probably the best movie, period, I've seen in the last year. If you haven't watched it yet, check it out at Blockbuster or on Netflix.

What makes it great is this: it's not your typical sappy sports film.

In the hands of less-skilled directors, Murderball could be filled with the overwrought, triumph-over-adversity bullshit that seems to be the theme of every sports movie. Lord knows the material is there. The Murderball directors must have been suffering from a bout of forgetfulness, because they do a refreshing thing. They get out of the way and just tell the damned story without mucking it up with forced emotion.

The movie treats the rugby players as athletes first. It follows the rivalry between the United States and Canada through the 2004 Paralympic Games. That's the loose plotline.

In between, the filmmakers introduce the captains of those two teams, who fucking hate each other. Their lives off the court are incredible subplots, as are the shitty reality of rehab, sex after quadriplegia and the spark of hope quad rugby can provide to injured people.

The documentary captures the U.S. team in all its blunt glory.

"I was at a wedding, and my girlfirend's aunt came up to me and told me how excited she was that I was going to play in the Special Olympics," says one team member. "I told her, 'I'm not a fucking retard.'"

Bottom line, Murderball offers a glimpse at life in a wheelchair without ever becoming preachy or boring. It's about a team gearing up to play its hated rival in the Olympics; the players happen to be in wheelchairs. It's hilarous. It's heart-breaking. It's just a damned good movie.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home