With his new movie, ”Any Given Sunday,” controversy-loving director Oliver Stone is stirring things up yet again. ”Sunday,” which follows the inner workings of a professional football team, takes a less than flattering view of how million-dollar deals and TV-generated hype have damaged the integrity of the game. ”Oliver goes the extra yard, pardon the football analogy, because he wants to show what it’s like but at the same time express his feelings about what he would like it to be,” says Al Pacino, who plays an aging coach in the film. ”That’s his trademark, giving a personal read on the subject.”
Not surprisingly, Stone’s personal read on the subject wasn’t a big hit with the NFL, which refused to let the filmmaker use their team names (or the Superbowl brand) in the movie. But Stone, a rabid football fan, makes no apologies for criticizing the game he loves. ”I think fans understand the way the game works, and they’ll appreciate the honesty of the movie,” he says. Former Cleveland Brown Jim Brown, who stars in the film, agrees: ”I think the film really depicts the old versus the new. The game is all about money now, and that’s real life.”
Stone, however, doesn’t think money is the only problem the NFL needs to fix. ”Television has bloated the game to a three-hour event,” he says. ”It’s like the Oscar show. It’s mostly commercials. It used to be a one-hour game, and the coaches called the time outs. Now TV calls the time-outs. They’ve got to find a way to make it leaner and meaner, because the NBA is going to take over with its faster game.”
Stone is hoping ”Sunday” will help push the NFL in the right direction, whether they like it or not. ”Because the angles of the shots are down on the playing field, it feels participatory, and I think it’s going to be hard for people to watch a three-hour game the usual way after seeing this movie.” Especially if Cleveland is playing.