American football has become one of the most popular religions in the United States. It is not a game only; it is not only sports, it is business and politics developing by their own rules and laws. These rules and laws are often furious and they conflict with other national, citizen, human ideals, but this game will hardly ever lose its significance. The ideology of the game is at least examined in generational, ethnic, and gender contexts. The values of its participants are revealed through the conflicts between tradition and innovation, cash and honor, individualism and team spirit.
American football has become a symbol of the American nation, and in Oliver Stone’s film the essence of this symbol is expanded further. A film-long metaphor is a gladiator battle. It begins as early as the movie’s epigraph. These are the words of famous American football coach, Vince Lombardi: “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle ”“ victorious.” This phrase should be apparently approached as the movie’s main idea which consists in the goal to show the cost of this desirable triumph.
Oliver Stone’s work received controversial feedback. Some of the critics really admire Stone’s unsurpassed style and method, while others argue that the author has shown nothing new or that the movie is overloaded with various tricks. Todd McCarthy was one of the many who appreciated the sports drama. In Variety, McCarthy provided a profound review of the movie, in which he found “a rambunctious, hyperkinetic, testosterone-and-adrenaline-drenched look at that American obsession known as professional football” (McCarthy 56). Hardly any notion of movie creators has been missed by McCarthy whose review is not only informative, but also explanatory, argumentative and fascinating. Meanwhile, Roger Ebert is not as satisfied as McCarthy. To his mind, Stone’s sports movie is “almost swamped by production overkill” (Ebert 22). Still, he is balancing between advantages and disadvantages of the movie. He finds the dialogue scenes effective and sincerely admires Al Pacino who is “comfortable and convincing” as Tony D’Amato. On the other hand, Ebert is dissatisfied by the lack of substantial, strategic, comprehensible sports action footage (22). Finally, Eugene Novikov tries to weigh up pros and cons and finds the author’s symbolism excessive. Constant cuts and shaking camera are also disturbing for the critic. All in all, there are hardly any viewers, either professional or not, who felt indifferent after watching Any Given Sunday.