Glendale, Arizona – Winter audiences had high hopes for Monday night’s $35 million Fiesta Bowl production, and they weren’t disappointed: high scoring drama, exotic costumes, an underdog story and a miracle finish.
Movie critics around the country, though, weren’t so pleased.
“Who in their right mind would swallow this tripe?” Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer Roger Ebert asked.
“The media tries to push the same sports formula at us again and again: a scrappy team of no names ends the perfect season with the perfect come from behind win on a perfectly executed trick play. I understand that the American public maybe isn’t the most sophisticated audience out there, but three trick plays? My patience has been exhausted. Something needs to be done about this industry before our collective good will runs out. Two thumbs way down.”
Ebert was referring to three trick plays the Broncos used to beat Oklahoma, one of the nation’s most storied programs. After the Sooners had climbed back from an eighteen point deficit – itself improbable given that Oklahoma needed three tries on the same two point conversion to tie it up, which they did once quarterback Paul Thompson found receiver Juaquin Iglesias in the endzone – Boise State was seemingly doomed when Sooner defensive back Marcus Walker intercepted BSU’s Jared Zabransky and turned his pick into what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with only sixty-two seconds left in the final quarter. Facing a fourth-and-eighteen from the fifty yard line, Zabransky lofted a pass to Drisan James at the Oklahoma thirty-five. James then lateraled to a speeding Jerard Rabb for an impossible hook-and-ladder to tie the game with seven seconds on the clock and send the Fiesta Bowl into overtime. Sooner tailback Adrian Peterson scored on the first play in extra time and soon the Broncos were faced with a fourth-and-two from the Oklahoma six yard line. After a timeout Zabransky motioned from his quarterback spot and the ball was snapped directly to receiver Vinny Perretta who lofted a touchdown to tightend Derek Schouman. Boise State first year head coach Chris Peterson decided he had seen enough and signalled in a play called “Statue Left”: Zabransky took the shotgun snap, looked to the three receivers bunched to his right then handed off behind his back to Ian Johnson, who coasted into the endzone for a 43-42 overtime win. Johnson, the NCAA leader in touchdowns, then proposed to his Bronco cheerleader girlfirend. She said yes.
The trailer which Ebert called “a cinematic travesty”.
“Like I said: just ridiculous,” Ebert added. “It’s bad enough when you see those individual elements on a weekly basis, especially during the fall awards push, but to use them all in one production? Three different comebacks? Three different trick plays? And a proposal from the eccentric but talented star to his all American cheerleader sweetheart? Hell, she’s probably head cheerleader. I thought nothing would ever beat Battlefield Earth but I was wrong. Congrats, Fiesta Bowl.”
Some critics disagreed, however. Los Angeles Times movie critic Kenneth Turan said the story of the Broncos was still a “heart warming tale of inspiration and daring that will rouse the entire family” despite some of the flaws in its plot.
“Could this have been a better scripted three plus hours? Sure. Frankly, though, we need this kind of over-the-top sentimentality in an age of cynicism and national despair. I say make everyone one of those Bronco players into a former drug dealer or lockjaw survivor. Kidnap the head coach and let’s watch the players become elite covert operation snipers through the medium of a montage of grueling military training set to the sounds of U2. Make sure there’s a misunderstanding between the offense and the defense and that the two will only reconcile right before the big game. Give them new uniforms at half time. Then give them a new name, mascot and positions right before overtime. Toss in a Will Ferrell cameo and we’re in business,” Turan said.
He also suggested that other critics had perhaps approached the Fiesta Bowl incorrectly, comparing the surreal fantasy of the Glendale, Arizona based production to the works of David Lynch.
“I enjoy splendor and theatricality and the suspension of belief. Lynch was the master of that. Maybe what we have here is a commercially maligned masterpiece like his Lost Highway. I’m pretty sure I saw two cows dancing in the pale moonlight to the music of Rachmaninof some time in the third quarter,” Turan said.