One of the many perks of having cousins out in Los Angeles is the inevitability that one of them works in the entertainment industry. My cousin Steph is my movie industry insider. She's worked in casting for Paramount and also at a PR agency. Steph can tell you stories about celebrities that will make your hair curl (okay, me being dramatic again but they'll at least make your jaw drop open and say "REALLY??"). She also knows about really good movies - old and new.
Undefeated is a movie we rented at her suggestion while we were there this week, an Oscar winner in 2011 for best documentary. The documentary follows a Tennessee inner city high school football team and three of the key players on the team. The school is underfunded and the coaches are all volunteers. None of the players have parents who have been to college and almost none of the players have two parents. The tag line of the movie is "The game is the easy part" and that is an obvious theme throughout. There are pitfalls that threaten to trip the team and players up at every turn and as it's a documentary, it's scary to think that this is real life for these kids. I won't give away any more - no spoilers from this end - but this movie is a tearjerker and makes even the biggest skeptic believe in the human spirit and the kindness of people. The most inspirational message that the coach taught his players (and me) is to try hard, to give your all, for something bigger than yourself. And if you stop thinking about yourself for just a moment, great things can happen.