Undefeated is such a well-meaning, heart-on-its-sleeve documentary that one feels morally obligated to write words in praise of it. In fact, anyone admitting to a dislike of the film runs the risk of being called a heartless crank. Having scored a 2011 Academy Award nomination in the Best Documentary category, it’s safe to say that Oscar voters are not in the camp of doubters and naysayers.
There is, after all, so much to appreciate in directors Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s film about a North Memphis high school football coach and his hardscrabble Menassas Tigers’ 2009 miracle season. The documentary vividly profiles each of its four principal subjects: There is the compassionate and voluble coach Bill Courtney, whose commitment to his players borders on saintly; the troubled Chavis, battling anger issues as he seeks to be a mature team leader; the sweet-tempered O.C., blessed with superior talent but struggling with academics in his quest for a scholarship; and “Money,” an honors student and undersized lineman with a never-say-die attitude. Read the full review here