Orange is the New Black is the latest series (13 episodes) to be presented by Netflix. Although it has received outstanding reviews, I was tardy checking it out because I loved the recently-viewed, syndicated Felicity series (1998-2002) so much that I decided to watch all 84 of its episodes a second time. When I finally got around to watching Orange, I was unable to get excited by it. The leading characters are lame and the supporting cast of characters are eccentric. And the setting – women in prison – doesn’t interest me. By contrast, I was fascinated recently by a book about men in prison – Law Man. After four episodes of Orange, I called it quits.
Because I so much enjoyed watching the TV show Friday Night Lights (FNL) about young men and their glory days, a friend suggested that I would certainly enjoy the 1988 movie, Everybody’s All-American. He was right.
While FNL was about a high school football hero in west Texas, Everybody’s All-American was about a college football hero (Dennis Quaid as “the Grey Ghost” Gavin Grey) in Louisiana who went on to a successful pro career before finally having to face the real world. Gavin seems like a level-headed guy who didn’t take his athletic success too seriously, but gradually his inability to do anything productive starts eating at him, especially when his adoring public continues to insist that he play the role of football All-American.
Grey’s journey into the real world is both helped and hurt by his wife Jessica Lange. It is helped because Jessica is a loving, considerate, hard-working wife; it is hurt because Jessica is a homecoming queen who had married into athletic royalty.
The third important person in this drama is Gavin’s young nephew played by Timothy Hutton. Initially, he is a wide-eyed observer, but gradually he becomes important to Lange as someone she can talk to. Imagine the contrast between Everybody’s All-American and a sensitive kid who eventually gets a doctorate and becomes a college professor.
The Rotten Tomato scores were a complete surprise – 30% by the critics and 46% by the audience. I loved the movie, especially the ending, which was much more upbeat the Frank Deford’s novel upon which it was based. The movie works because all three of the principal characters are endearing and sympathetic, especially Gavin. I give it three and a half stars out of four.