Review: American Underdog

A review of the greatest undrafted football player of all time’s story, now in theaters.

An American Underdog poster.

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An American Underdog poster.

Joe Montana. Dan Marino. Two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history facing off in a high stakes battle in Super Bowl XIX, 1985. The historic matchup between the two quarterbacks rages as young Kurt Warner watches from his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in awe and glued to the screen as he imagines the impossible scenario that he would be in their shoes one day. Well, impossible to many, but not to Warner.

American Underdog is one of the newest cinematic hits, airing on Christmas Day, 2021. It has already grossed $15.7 million in its first few weeks in theaters. Starring Zachary Levi, American Underdog tells the unlikely story of Kurt Warner’s rise to becoming one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time and showcases the 1999 St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf.”

Beginning with Warner’s time playing football at the University of Northern Iowa, the movie explores right away his struggle to hit the field as a fifth year senior still sitting on the bench during most games. The audience is introduced to his roommate, Mike Hudnutt (Ser’Darius Blain), and his future wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin), whose love story is showcased front and center throughout the movie.

Warner experiences a roller coaster of high hopes, letdowns, struggles, and victory all during the middle act of the movie including being cut from the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers and trying to be the right husband for single-mom Brenda with two kids, one of them being blind.

Through his obstacles and hardships, like stocking shelves at a local Hyvee after being cut from the Packers, Warner finally makes his football breakthrough when he is given the opportunity to play for the Iowa Barnstormers, an arena football team in Des Moines, Iowa.

Warner makes his mark and leads the Barnstormers, with his old friend Mike Hudnutt, to being the Arena Football League runner ups.

After this event, Warner gets attention from the St. Louis Rams, coached by Dick Vermeil (Dennis Quaid), and finally gets his chance to prove himself. To prove the doubters. To defy the odds. After that, the rest is history.

American Underdog is a story of inspiration and perseverance. I’ll be honest, I walked out of the movie theater and wanted to go run five miles because that’s the kind of movie it is. 

The movie does an excellent job showcasing the struggle of Kurt Warner to achieve his dream. It shows the tragedies. The good days and the bad days. The ups and downs, and even a somewhat near-death experience for Warner himself.

One of my favorite parts about what the movie shows is that even though Warner is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he is still human and he, by no means, had a perfect life.

The cast is fantastic, including Zachary Levi who looks very similar to the real Kurt Warner. Everyone involved did an incredible job to bring forth a story that needed to be told.

I would recommend this movie to all people, not just football fans. The story is incredibly inspiring and absolutely a must watch. 

From Warner’s low job at Hyvee to leading the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory and everything and everyone in between, American Underdog checks every box and is an absolute 10/10 movie.