Art & Life

‘American Underdog’: A story so close to home

“American Underdog” is the real-life story of Kurt Warner, the first undrafted quarterback in the NFL to win a Super Bowl. The movie stars Zachary Levi as Kurt Warner, Anna Paquin as Brenda Warner, Dennis Quaid as Coach Dick Vermil and Hayden Zallar as Zach Warner. 

Viewers meet Warner as a child watching Joe Montana win a Super Bowl. Warner, a Cedar Rapids native who played football at University of Northern Iowa, graduated without signing to any NFL team. 

When Warner met his future wife Brenda, it appeared their biggest struggle at first might be Warner needing to learn to line dance. 

Warner learns that Brenda, is a single mother to two children, one of whom is not only blind but also has struggles related to being accidentally dropped as an infant. Rather than running away, Warner chooses to start a life with Brenda and her children. After graduating without being signed to a team, Warner takes job working over night at a local Hy-Vee to help support their family. 

Warner is eventually offered a spot with the Des Moines Barnstormers, an arena league football team which he initially scoffs at. However, after he and his family brake down on the road during a blizzard, he changes his mind. 

Warner would go on to play one season in the arena league, before being called to try out for the St. Louis Rams. He is mocked for being in the arena league as well as being older than his teammates. After a fluke injury to the starting quarterback, Warner became the best option for the Rams and he is signed for his first season.  

The movie primarily took place in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, so it was nice that the set designers worked to make it look like it was filmed in Iowa in the early 1990’s by using labels of grocery store items of the times. The clothing worn also looked like it walked out of a mid 90’s high school yearbook. 

The actor chosen to portray Zach is blind in real life, which was a strong representation. It was amazing to have an actor with a disability portray a facet of his real life.  

The biggest detractor from the movie was not filming in the Unidome, which Warner would have played in during college. 

“American Underdog” shows viewers how with a lot of hard work, determination and the support of your family you can become the greatest show on turf.

Categories: Art & Life, Movie Reviews