When the tension of forced integration invades a high school football program in 1971 Virginia, players and coaches must rise above racial prejudice, win ball games and ensure that everyone will Remember the Titans. This true story is entertaining, inspiring and appropriate for families.
Denzel Washington plays coach Boone, a taskmaster sent to lily-white T.C. Williams High to usurp the leadership of a local favorite (Patton) with a very different coaching style. Battling their own pride and bigotry, the men develop a bond. They also shape the character of young athletes and unite a divided community.
Motivational speeches and virtuous behavior project an old-fashioned respect for discipline, integrity and Christian faith. Specifically, a coach stands up to corruption and makes a supreme personal sacrifice. A tragically injured player refuses to wallow in self-pity. Even minor characters experience growth. But most impressive of all is how Titans captures the passion of its subject matter without resorting to deeply offensive slurs or locker-room vulgarity.
According to incoming Walt Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider, Titans is proof positive of his commitment to families. “[Producer] Jerry Bruckheimer brought it to me and I said, ‘Take out all the swear words.’ In the script, every third word was the n-word, every fourth word was the f-word, and every sixth word was the s-word.” All that remain are a few very mild profanities. (That said, parents should also be aware of one odd scene where a teammate provokes another by kissing him on the lips a locker room.)
Titans may lack the subtlety and richness of a film like Hoosiers, but it’s still a lot of fun. A bed of classic rock and Motown tunes add to its nostalgic warmth. Enjoyable and thought-provoking.