Are cliches harming a majority of films? Absolutely. However, there are some stories that are naturally prone to cliches, and My All American is one of them. While the film is about as formulaic as films can get, and at points unbelievably corny, there’s a charm to the film and a unique quality about it that makes it better than the cliches suggest. It’s not necessarily powerful cinema, but it works well and tells a story with much entertainment power.
Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) is a Colorado high school student with goals of joining the NFL, despite his small stature. After giving an impressive record to his high school team, Steinmark is recruited by Coach Royal (Aaron Eckhart), the coach of the University of Texas’s Longhorn football team. But when everything seems to be going his way, Freddie must face the team championships, quarrels within the team, Vietnam draft, and injury that threatens to defeat his dreams.
In the most part, My All American plays as a safe, but mostly entertaining story. The story developments are seen from a mile away, but the charming performance by Finn Wittrock gives more investment in the character than is usually seen in the script. Aaron Eckhart is mostly good as well, and does a lot with a fairly thin character from the script.
Though there’s a fair amount of exposition, and a lot of the subplots feel unfounded, the second half of the film is much better. While’s some of the corniness of the story bleeds through, when there’s football onscreen the film works, and the capturing of the sport is well done. The last thirty minutes in particular are very strong, and while their familiar, they work well with the performance.
My All American is a familiar, but ultimately very enjoyable film with a great newcomer role from Finn Wittrock. While the film is hardly an original piece of cinema, it’s a rewarding and entertaining film with some great work from its cast and director. Grade: B-