'My All American' Gets Extra Points For Heartstring Tugs

If you get thrilled by the team spirit on display in "Hoosiers," teared up during the emotional moments of "Brian's Song," and feverishly rooted for Rudy in "Rudy" then I have a movie for you. It is based on a true story and is titled "My All American." The film tells the story of Freddie Steinmark, a real hero on and off the football field.

Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) lived to play football. Even though he was small in stature and weighed less than 160 pounds he aspired to be the best on his high school team and ultimately to attend Notre Dame on a full football scholarship. He was supported in these dreams by his father Fred (Michael Reilly Burke). Eventually he made it to the University of Texas on a scholarship and played for Coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart).

The movie tells Steinmark's story by focusing almost entirely on his actions at practice and in various games. We are exposed totally to Freddie the athlete. We do not have the chance to see as much of Freddie the person. This is not due to any lack on Wittrock's part. He totally presents Steinmark's gung-ho attitude, as well as his win at all costs determination. Still his relationship with his girlfriend Linda (Sarah Bolger) is glossed over, as is his relationship with his parents. A more definitive view of these relationships would have added much more depth to the film.

As written Steinmark comes off as almost perfect, and maybe he was. He appears as a loving son, true blue boyfriend, caring friend, and motivating team player. Surely he was not always as straight arrow as the movie presents. However this view of Freddie does add to the emotional impact of the movie.

This is as much a career changing role for Wittrock as "Rudy" was for Sean Astin. He is the star and is the one you remember when the film is over. He has just the right amount of earnestness and charisma to make Freddie Steinmark larger than life.

Eckhart is equally earnest as Coach Royal. After starting out the film in some ludicrous age prosthetics, he becomes the Eckhart we all know in the flashback scenes. Bolger is wasted in the role of "the girlfriend". She is wide-eyed, loving, patient and kind. Her character's role is to support that of Wittrock's and she could do it with her eyes closed. Most of her scenes consist of her looking at Freddie with longing and love, interspersed with her wincing when Freddie gets hit on the football field.

The movie is rated PG for profanity, football violence and brief nudity.

Even with its flaws "My All American" delivers the goods as a testament to the courage of one man and his impact on the sport of football. America has always loved a sports movie that tugs at the heartstrings. That's what you get with this film.

I scored "My All American" an athletic 7 out of 10.