In November 1970, a plane carrying almost the entire Marshall University football team, its staff and fans crashed, killing 75 people in all and devastating the small town of Huntington, West Virginia. WE ARE MARSHALL, directed by McG (THE O.C., FASTLANE) tells the tragic true story of how the university and the citizens of Huntington rebuilt the football program and dealt with the loss of so many of their own. The university's president, Donald Dedmon, earnestly portrayed by David Strathairn (GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK), hires the only willing coach to take on such a daunting task, Jack Lengyl (Matthew McConaughey). With the help of the lone Marshall football coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox) and the three remaining players who weren't on the plane, Coach Lengyl sets out to restructure Marshall's team, and spirit. But for some in the community it's still too soon, including Paul Griffen (Ian McShane) who lost his football-star son. They fear that moving on so quickly is disrespectful to those who died and to the loved ones who still mourn. The film emphasizes this issue, illustrating the struggle of that harrowing time at Marshall, and in college football history.
Although WE ARE MARSHALL contains a similar theme to other sports movies, rising from adversity, the tragedy of so many lives lost in a small community and the painful recovery sets this film apart. Strong performances by McConaughey (FAILURE TO LAUNCH)his wit and energy adds much needed doses of comic relief, Fox (LOST), and McShane (DEADWOOD) successfully help bring the historical and inspiring story of Marshall University to the big screen, a must-see for all sports fans.
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