Making the Grades
After showing young audiences how to steal cars (Gone in 60 Seconds) and justifying the exploitation of your body to earn a living (Coyote Ugly), Jerry Bruckheimer will likely surprise many parents with possibly the best family movie of 2000 -- Remember the Titans.
After visiting Alexandria, Virginia a couple of years ago, screenwriter Greg Howard wrote the script for Remember the Titans because he was inspired by the influence the Titans (a high school football team) had on their hometown during the 70's, the effects of which are still visible today. Based closely on the 1971 struggle that occurred when three high schools and two races were integrated into one, the story focuses on the school board's decision to replace long-standing Caucasian football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) with African-American Herman Boone (Denzel Washington).
With the white students and community ready to boycott the school, Boone concentrates on teaching his students something far more important than throwing a nice spiral. By channeling the boys' aggressions into football instead of racism, Boone turns their anger into a positive motivating force. Within a few months, these teens become a solid work-together team -- not only playing incredible football, but also teaching classmates and parents a few things about tolerance.
If the words sentimental, cheesy, or clich0xE9 come to mind, let me assure you when compared to the recent glut of teen films romanticizing drugs, sex, booze, and irresponsible behavior, I'd hardly call a script about some zealous do-good kids "typical."
Besides minor violence related to racial tensions, a handful of mild profanities, and a quick male-to-male kiss instigated by a long-haired player to quiet a teasing teammate (his sexual orientation is never determined), this movie will likely leave parents and teens positively impressed. Yoast, Boone, and the students act as powerful examples of co-operation, standing for what they know is right, and demonstrating the educational value of high school athletics.
Perhaps the real Yoast sums it up best in a recent interview: "I could have handled the football, but what Herman did with those boys, nobody else could have done."
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Remember The Titans.
What did playing the game of football do to help the students overcome their prejudices toward each other? Can you think of other activities that may help people overcome their differences and begin working together?
Once the students on the football team understood the importance of respecting each other regardless of race or color, they had a difficult time accepting the intolerance of the other students and their parents. How did they begin to change the attitudes held by the community of Alexandria? Were their tactics ever violent?