Bomb Rating: 

I don't understand what it is about sports films and the phrase "based on a true story." The way these filmmakers treat the source material, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a plan to remake "Pride of the Yankees" in order to give Lou Gehrig a heart condition on top of everything else to give it that extra dramatic oomph.

The fact that the real Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) made the Philadelphia Eagles simply isn't enough for director Ericson Core and whatever hack screenwriter made up most of the story. "Invincible" includes the fairy tale that Papale made the team after an open tryout and was basically a midget in a football uniform. Further, it purports that Papale returned a fumble for a touchdown to seal the first coaching win for Dick Vermiel (Greg Kinnear). He did recover a fumble. He didn't score.

The fact that Papale never played college football and was bartending and substitute teaching prior to his making the team isn't enough for Hollywood. That he became the oldest rookie, at the age of 30, also isn't enough. Had somebody put some actual effort into the screenplay, making up facts wouldn't have been required to make the audience care.

The actual facts include Papale standing 6'2" and weighing 195 pounds - a pretty good size for a wide receiver. Mark Wahlberg is about 5'8." The size difference is supposed to make things more dramatic. We're supposed to ooh and aah as the little guy tries to avoid getting killed. Then there's the fact that Papale was not in fact a participant in an open tryout in which every fat idiot in Philadelphia got to waddle around in front of Coach Vermeil. Papaple was invited to a private work-out, which is how he made the team. Finally, there's the fact that Papale wasn't just some dope who happened to be a really good football player who showcased his skills only with his friends during their weekly game. He played for the World League's Philadelphia Bell. In other words, the guy didn't appear out of nowhere.

But that's Hollywood stupidity for you. Somebody had this thought: "Oh, wouldn't this be a better story if he was a true nobody?" Well, the answer is, no it wouldn't, not if you're going to use the name Vince Papale. If you want a better story, then make one up. That's basically what Sylvester Stallone did with "Rocky". He imagined a better story, imagined a fictional character, and created a movie.

Sadly, we live in an age where the line between fiction and fact is nearly meaningless and that's what this film represents more than anything.

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