Invincible could be renamed “Generic Feel Good Sports Movie.” Like Glory Road from earlier this year it is based on a true story about an underdog who goes on to triumph. Inspiring, no? Well, yes and no.
The story does get the blood pumping, particularly in the football scenes, but only in the most predictable ways. Mark Wahlberg plays Vince Papale, a Philadelphia Eagles fan who has just lost his wife and his teaching job. Down on his luck, he goes to an open tryout for his favorite NFL team, only to see his wildest dreams come true. From here on in you don’t need to be a Hollywood screenwriter to figure out the rest of the story and that is the problem with the movie. How many times will audiences sit still for the same old sports clichés? The story would be inspiring if we hadn’t already seen it a dozen times, only with different names and sports in movies like Hoosiers to Bad News Bears to The Rookie to Remember the Titans. The sports and that faces change, it’s just the story that remains the same.
Invincible sees Mark Wahlberg revisiting the era that made him a star. In Boogie Nights he played a fictional 1970s porn star. Here his mullet is back and he hands in a touching portrayal of underdog Papale. He is likable, if not particularly memorable in the role. Greg Kinnear in the inspirational coach role doesn’t fare as well. He is wasted here, displaying none of the charisma that has marked his recent work in The Matador and Little Miss Sunshine. This Oscar nominee is often referred to as the “next Jack Lemmon.” If he keeps handing in forgettable performances like this soon he’ll be known as the “next Karl Dane.” Who’s that you ask? My point exactly.
Invincible is like going to the play off game and knowing the final score before the game even starts.