With Super Bowl 54 nearly upon us, now is a perfect time to revisit the Disney classic Remember the Titans, available to stream on Disney+.
It would have worked even better had the Titans beaten the Chiefs, but such is life.
As a quick refresher, Remember the Titans tells the (based on a) true story of coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) and the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School, the first in the district. Boone has to navigate through these delicate waters and work to ensure the players and coaches alike can move past their superficial differences.
The movie of course takes several liberties in regards to the actual events; one example being Alexandria schools were integrated in 1965. But that happens with every “based on a true story” movie. The changes made were all for dramatic effect, and they work wonderfully. If you’re curious about what else changed, the movie’s Wikipedia page lays them out.
Remember the Titans is my second favorite movie of all time, behind Ocean’s 11. It has everything. Drama, humor, inspiration, life lessons, you name it. I could go on and on and on about it. But I’ll try not to do that, and just hit some of the bigger positives.
*SPOILERS AHEAD. THIS IS YOUR ONE WARNING.*
I’m going to take a bit of a different approach here than I have for the other FandomFlix posts so far. Where those have functioned mostly as traditional reviews, I’m going to run through a handful of scenes that make Remember the Titans what it is, and that illustrate its larger points and themes.
There are several scenes where I still get the chills or goose bumps every time I watch it. And I’m not just talking about when I watch the full movie. Even watching clips on YouTube gets me going.
This might be the big one. It has the eponymous “You make sure they remember, forever, the night they played the Titans.” Give me a brick wall to run through after watching this scene.
Before Julius (Wood Harris) and Gerry (Ryan Hurst) become brothers, they were adversaries. Both supremely talented, they couldn’t look past their differences for the good of the team. It takes Julius finally confronting Gerry about it to get Gerry to view their situation in a different light. It’s a quick, simple scene. But Julius’ ending line rings true. Forget the movie for a second, that’s just a great life lesson to take to heart.
“Left side! Strong side!” marks the turning point for the Titans. Gerry begins to take his role as captain more seriously. His leadership improves, and the team’s attitude improves with it.
As serious and dramatic as Remember the Titans is, it’s a fun movie, plain and simple. You should be laughing and smiling through large chunks of it.
The team’s first meeting is probably a top three scene for me in the whole movie. It conveys so much about Coach Boone, the players, the huge gap that exists early on between the white and black players and coaches.
Washington puts on a master class of acting here. Going from tough and intimidating to joking and light-hearted in the blink of an eye.
This next scene is also motivational, but Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass (Kip Pardue) pushes it into the fun section. The easy confidence and the cocksure attitude, it’s great, no other way to put it.
Yes, Ray being a racist dingbat isn’t great. And Boone’s speech to Sunshine definitely counts as inspirational. But from the time Sunshine flips the lineman to the end of the scene, it’s pure fun.
There’s not much to say about the Titans Dance. It’s iconic. Everyone knows it. For this one, just watch and enjoy.
And of course, the state championship winning play, the Hollywood ending. It doesn’t matter that this part is fictionalized. It doesn’t matter that this play would virtually never work like it does here. I love it. You love it. Everyone loves it.
The Heartwarming and Heartwrenching
If you don’t at least get choked up during this scene, I don’t know what to say. To see how far Gerry and Julius have come since they first met is truly something to behold. They were almost sworn enemies at first. And now here they are, calling each other their brother and talking about their lifelong friendship.
But, we all know their story ultimately ends in Gerry’s premature death. Knowing the two best friends won’t be able to grow old and get fat together is heart-breaking.
And both Hurst and Harris are phenomenal in this scene. In what could have easily come off as corny and cheesy, these two really bring out the emotions and make you fully feel what they’re going through.
As great as all of these scenes are, it still only scratches the surface of what Remember the Titans has to offer. But because I can’t just post the whole movie here or go through the entire thing scene by scene, these are a great start. Whether you’re looking for motivation, a story about friendship, or just good, clean, family fun, Remember the Titans has it all.