True story of Freddie Steinmark is like drinking whole milk for two hours

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There’s a layer of plastic coating on the inspirational faith-based football drama “My All American” that makes it feel like it’s not real. The true story of Freddie Steinmark, an underdog player at the University of Texas, is so white bread and scrubbed clean of any edges that it plays like a Saturday matinee at the cineplex in Pleasantville.

Finn Whitrock plays Steinmark, a golly-gee, gosh-darn good ol’ boy from Colorado who, despite his undersized frame, earns a scholarship to play football at the University of Texas in the late 1960s. Aaron Eckhart is his coach, Darrell Royal, who is portrayed as an almost John Wayne-level hero. This is a movie where complex situations are diffused with hugs.

Through hard work and determination, Steinmark becomes the Longhorns’ safety and helps lead his team to a national championship. He fights through the pain of an injury in his left leg, but late in the season learns he has a cancerous tumor the size of a baseball in that leg and has to undergo an emergency amputation.

Steinmark’s story is ripe for retelling, and Angelo Pizzo — the screenwriter who penned “Rudy” and “Hoosiers” — is a natural to tell it. But Pizzo also directs, and does an amateurish job of depicting the highs and lows of action on the football field. He thinks just by adding cheering and a swelling score to any scene he can make it more dramatic, and that’s not how sports work on screen.

Earlier this year, “McFarland USA” proved sports dramas can hit all the marks and still be done right. But “My All American” is what happens when you try too hard to be inspirational and completely fumble the ball.

agraham@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/grahamorama

‘My All American’

GRADE: C

Rated PG: For thematic elements, language and brief partial nudity.

Running time: 118 minutes

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