After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Joe Paterno is embroiled in Penn State's Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, challenging his legacy and forcing him to face questions of institutional failure regarding the victims.
College American Football Movies
To me, this movie is perfection.
Good movie but grossly overrated
This is ultimately a movie about the very bad things that can happen when we don't address our unease, when we just try to brush it off, whether that's to fit in or to preserve our self-image.
If you like to be scared, if you like to laugh, and if you like to learn a thing or two at the movies, this absolutely cannot be missed.
I'm not going to talk about the film as a film because, it seems to me, a pointless exercise. We all know the story. Painful, bitter, shattering. What we didn't know, what we couldn't even imagine is what was in Joe Paterno's heart in mind. Now we have a plausible, profoundly human version of it, in Al Pacino's eyes. I saw a decent man of his generation confronted by the new approach to decency. I saw in his eyes a sort of resignation, the kind of resignation suffered by the decent man who knows he's guilty. Al Pacino is still breaking ground, still at the vanguard of his own profession. Hurrah !
People who hate this film or its implications that Paterno was complicit to the child abuse are wrong. He clearly was part of the narrative. He maybe never witnessed the abuse himself. But he never reported what happened when he heard about such incidents. I understand that plenty of people are sympathetic to Paterno even if they aren't Penn State or football fans. The film to me seems to clearly display Paterno as a figure who probably would have stayed obsessed with winning football games even if 99% of the people who care about him and football, didn't care about football. And he didn't do anything to deserve someone like Sandusky being hired. Paterno with luck could have never had such an incident and be revered today. And plenty of people revered today might have made the same mistakes as Paterno if they had to deal with Paterno's issues. That doesn't mean that Paterno and others had no responsibility to do the right thing and report Sandusky as soon as possible. It's remarkable how quickly Paterno's fall happens after his 409th win. I forgot that he went from the winningest couch that almost everyone loved, to fired in less than week. I give this a 7 because the story wasn't that interesting, even though there seemed to be good execution. I think what bothers people is that the real enemy of this film isn't so much Joe Paterno or Jerry Sandusky. Instead the main enemy is America's priority of putting football and other interests over our more basic human responsibility of protecting children and bringing likely sex abuse criminals to justice as quickly as possible. After Paterno is fired and he addressed his supporters in front of his yard, be almost forgets about the victims in his address. He just throws in a call to support the victims at the very end. The victims should have been brought up initially or not at all. The error in this response really displayed his faulty priorities again. The reactions of many of many reviewers is similar to the students protesting in the film following Peterno being fired. This story really highlights our power of denying the errors of people we grow to respect. OJ and Mafia defenders have similar blind spots. People say "Sure they made a mistake on this matter, but they weren't bad about everything. Who hasn't made a mistake?" As if the scope of the crime doesn't matter.It's remarkably easy for some people to shield acknowledging that someone like Joe Paterno, who might be mostly good 99% of the time, can be complicit to a seriously crime the other 1% of the time. And that 1% was a 1% mattered a lot. Another common response is, "Paterno wants to be known as a legendary football coach. Not a football coach who also had to deal with child sex abuse by one of his couches." Well the media rather than the university addressing this issue from the start let Sandusky fester and abuse dozens more of decades. I can't help but wonder how it ever felt ok for people to know someone was molesting children and not report them. If someone witnesses a murder, A) I don't think the witness would report the incident to their boss or couch. But B) if they did, they'd be sure law enforcement was in the loop too. Especially if the witness notices that the murderer walking around where he committed his crime years later. Child molesters are extremely likely to repeat their crimes. Much more so than almost any other type of criminal. This is something people should know and care about. It seems that a lot of people are unprepared to deal with such an incident and think it'd never happen to them or someone they know. This film gets a 7 largely for bringing this issue more-so into the spotlight. Based on the perceptions of other reviewers I get the feeling that people don't want other films based on true stories like Paterno, or Spotlight. They don't want to think about the faults of people who seemed mostly fine. My response: Put an end to such incidents happening, and more importantly festering, and there will be no extraordinarily awful true story to make a movie about down the line about our supposed heroes. Instead we can just have real heroes. The fact that, for now, such things still happen, only reinforces the need to make movies like Paterno. Until we go decades with nothing like this happening, I'll find it relevant to be aware of stories like Paterno. In the last year or two we learned of a similar case of child abuse with the US gymnastics team. Maybe someday we'll learn.
Al delivers another excellent performance in this riveting true story about a legend who placed protecting his legacy over the lives of children. We all knew of his greatness and commitment to his program and school, but now we see the struggle and the cover up. It's bad enough what happened to all those kids we know about, it's worse that people want to try to defend those in power who clearly knew what was going on and could have done a lot more to stop it. This film is a statement that power and ego can corrupt even the most well intentioned people.
PaternoThere isn't much to look up to in this plot, no matter how much impact it creates on screen the characters are left off far away disconnected from the audience which is never acceptable especially on such character driven feature. Barry Levinson; the director, tries too hard on executing the anticipated vision but fails to deliver it. And if anything that helps one survive this feature, it is Al Pacino and his brilliant portrayal that is supported with a good cast. Paterno is plausible on some aspects but is piled up by this raw script whose attempt to go in detail on facts leads to an informative art rather than being entertaining one.