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Brian's Song (2001 movie)

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by John Gray

This remake of the classic 1971 made-for-TV tear jerker details the late-1960s interracial friendship between new Chicago Bears recruit Gale Sayers (Mekhi Phifer, in the Billy Dee Williams role) and valuable running back Brian Piccolo (Sean Maher, in … see full wiki

Cast: Elise Neal
Director: John Gray
Release Date: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Brian's Song (2001 movie)

Brian's Song - 2001

  • Dec 18, 2007
Pros: .......

Cons: .........

The Bottom Line: All the happy days would never learn to fly,
Until the hands of time would choose to wave good-bye!
~Michel Legrand, Marilyn and Alan Bergman

I’ve never understood the need to remake a movie. Once made, well, that is enough for me. You know how it is going to end and what happens during the movie, so what’s the sense? If you aren’t original enough or good enough to find your own properties to produce or whatever, then get outta the business cause you don’t belong there anyway.

Brian’s Song
The movie chronicles the life of Brian Piccolo and his short stint at greatness playing for the Chicago Bears. Coupled in the movie is the run for fame of Gale Sayers, who played at the same time as Piccolo. Their friendship is the basis of the movie and the depth of that friendship is really what the movie is about.

What didn’t work this time around
~~The Actors~~
Don’t get me wrong, I am not downing the actors participation in this movie, they did a great job with the property given them. That said, the choice of Sean Maher to play the part of Brian Piccolo left me wanting more. In the original movie, James Caan seemed more a man we could identify with. He was the guy, just like us, that met obstacles in his life. Someone always a second faster, a little bigger, a little better.

James Caan gave you someone to root for because he was more human. Sean Maher, on the other hand, was too pretty and too buff for the role. Even by the end of the movie I had nothing invested in him because he wasn’t like the everyday person. He was the good looking quarterback in school, not the nerd in chemistry class. In other words, he was a movie actor playing a part, whereas, at least for me, James Caan was an actor living the part.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry like a baby at the end, but knowing the movie practically by heart, I was geared up by then for the cry anyway.

On the other hand, Mekhi Phifer could have been a better Sayers as well. Billy Dee Williams made an outstanding Gale Sayers in the original release. Phifer, although very decent in the role, wasn’t as reluctant in the role as Billy Dee seemed. Before you could feel Sayers painful shyness but Phifer didn’t seem to portray that as well.

~~The beauty of the game~~
In the original they used a lot of real footage of Sayers and Piccolo and the Bear football team. Quite a few of the team members were featured in the movie as well. But the most noticeable part was the lack of the beauty of Sayers on the field and the fierce determination of Piccolo.

~~The race issue~~
They made this movie white. Sure, they mentioned the race issue but not as in depth as the original movie. The race issue was a huge part of the life and times of Piccolo and Sayers. It was a fantastic foundation of their friendship and they used it to their advantage both on and off the field.

One reason for the difference could have been the times. The original, filmed in 1971, wasn’t that far off from the actual time of the integration of the black/white roommate introduction in football. Previously they had roomed separately but Piccolo and Sayers broke the color barrier. Since this happened, in real life, in 1969, it was still a pretty raw issue even for those times. By the time this movie was made, 2001, it was no biggie, at least for us outside the game.

A good deal of the language and feel of the racial tension was glossed over in this release, diminishing the incredible friendship between these two men.

~~The music~~
Where is that great theme song by Michel Legrand?

What worked
They stayed fairly true to the original story. A lot of the speeches and the idea of the movie remained the same.

Overall impression
So, again I ask, why remake the movie? Sometimes the mousetrap is beautiful just as it is and doesn’t need to be improved on. People viewing this release will see a pretty movie, for sure, and will see a glorious friendship between two men, but if they want the nuts and bolts and grit of the movie they should see Brian's Song, 1971. Now that’s a pretty movie.

Brian’s Song, 2001, produced by John Gray with original writing credits to Gale Sayers, Al Silverman, and William Blinn. This release also has writing credits for John Gray and Allen Clare. It received no awards or nominations whereas the original won a bunch.

Don’t try to fix it if it ain’t broke.



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