Making the Grades
For the historic city of Philadelphia, 1976 is a year of celebration and commemoration. However the urban center is also besieged with rising unemployment, a looming strike and a lackluster, losing season for their NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fresh from a position at UCLA, head coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) shakes things up by hosting a one-day open tryout for the squad. Seen by some as a publicity stunt, the stadium, nonetheless, is full of fans streaming out of the stands and onto the turf for a chance to play with the big guys.
Among the hopefuls is a 30-year-old, unemployed school teacher and part-time bartender who has been egged on to the field by his buddies at Max's Bar. When Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) receives the only invitation at the end of the day to attend training camp, the city, the media and the bar patrons go wild over the story of the local boy from the beleaguered South Philly neighborhood.
But for Vince, the unexpected invite is the start of a grueling work out where his potential teammates from the football franchise would rather grind him into the grass than give him a chance on the gridiron. Not only does the unlikely rookie have to prove to the coaches and the other players that he deserves a spot on the roster, he also has to overcome his own internal doubts.
Sports movies are a dime a dozen but Invincible stands out with the strong cast of secondary characters who surround Vince. (Unfortunately, we mostly see them drinking in the bar or playing pick up ball in a vacant lot.) A sense of community evolves as these men pin their own battered hopes on the one guy who has a chance to make his personal dreams come true. And when Vince runs on to the field, he learns to do it for every adult who's been beaten down by the harsh realities of life and for every kid who still believes he can make the big league.
Along with the heavy alcohol consumption, there are plenty of bone-crunching tackles on the Eagles playing field and in the vacant lot where Vince and his barroom buddies play. Yet this inspiring story, based on the life of the real Vince Papale, reaffirms that sometimes dreams come true--even for old guys.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Invincible.
How does Vince use the note from his wife as motivation during training camp? How does he finally overcome his doubts about his abilities?
While talent and skill is important, what other factors contribute to a person’s success on the sports field, in the music room or in an academic pursuit? How does Vince’s father, his friends and the little boy wearing his number help to motivate the rookie to do his best?
What things do Coach Vermeil and Vince have in common? Why does the coach give Vince a chance to come to training camp? Have others ever believed in you when your chance for success seemed highly improbable?