One of the ironies of Oliver Stone's recent career is that, as committed as he is to staying current technically, stylistically, and musically, his work ham-fistedly embraces old-fashioned notions of teamwork, pride, and honor. It's that creaky nostalgia for a time when men were men and women stayed largely out of the way—it's no coincidence that his new film's most sympathetic female character is a prostitute—that drives Any Given Sunday, Stone's latest foray into the world of hyper-masculinity. Al Pacino stars as a proud but beleaguered pro-football coach forced to deal with his team's mercenary owner (Cameron Diaz), aging star players (Lawrence Taylor, Dennis Quaid), and a cocky upstart quarterback (Jamie Foxx) with a chip on his shoulder. Needless to say, only Taylor and Quaid truly understand Pacino's (and, by extension, Stone's) proud-warrior code of ethics, as everyone else is scandalously motivated by less spiritually grounded concerns. Like Stone's similarly obnoxious U-Turn, Any Given Sunday takes thoroughly standard subject matter and pumps it up with endless stylistic tricks (dig all those cutaways to lightning and Ben Hur's Roman charioteers), epic length, and shallow pretensions. Stone may still pay lip service to lofty ideals, but his recent films resemble those of such commercial-weaned hacks as Michael Bay and Simon West. Like Bay's Armageddon, Any Given Sunday is driven by the notion that nothing succeeds like excess: It's packed with big-name supporting actors in terrible roles, unnecessary subplots, and a desire to give the audience more than it could ever possibly want. Yet in the end, all Any Given Sunday ends up being is yet another headache-inducing display of crass machismo and ultra-stylized dick-waving.
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