It's not like this boasts the most promising of credentials: a first-time filmmaker (Ericson Core), a first-time screenwriter (Brad Gann), a based-on-a-true-story script that more or less mimics Rudy's underdog-to-top-dog story line, Mark Wahlberg in a Boogie Nights wig, and Greg Kinnear as the as-if Dick Vermeil. It's constructed upon the clichés of the real-life-via-Hollywood sports movie in which the unknown solider becomes the People's Champion, if only for a single game. It harbors no surprises as it tells the tale of Vince Papale (Wahlberg), a 30-year-old part-time Philadelphia barkeep who played high school ball for one year, and none in college, and still wound up an Eagle in 1976. Yet Core and Gann push past all that to extract from the clichés the larger, better story of a guy who has nothing to lose save for the dignity beaten out of him by pro ballers who want the guy dragged from the field on a stretcher. And so Invincible joins Rocky or Hoosiers or Breaking Away as one of the few satisfying sports movies in which the foundation built upon a heap of clichés holds strong.
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