5qThe Love of the Game


The Love Of The Game
The 5th Quarter
Stars: Ryan Merriman, Aidan Quinn, Andie Mac Dowell, Stefan Guy, Matt McGrath, Mandy Manis and Josh Smith
Director/Scriptwriter: Rick Bieber
Fox Films
Rating: PG 13 for sports and auto accident
Running Length: 115 minutes
“The 5th Quarter” is based on a true story about the death of a young athlete and how his family reacts to the tragedy on two levels. One, where youth takes their grief out on a football field with physical action and the other, where adults internalize grief with no outlet. The young athlete who died in a car accident was Luke Abbate (Stefan Guy), a high school football stand-out and headed for Wake Forest University in Louisiana.
We see the preventable auto accident that puts Luke into a coma and then a debate about being an organ donor. The funeral is a handkerchief-wringer, because of the father (Aidan Quinn.) In the meantime, older brother Jon (Ryan Merriman), who had been coasting through life, takes a serious turn, gets a physical trainer and gears up for college at Wake Forest and motivating the 2006 team, in honor of his brother, even to changing his football jersey number. We see football footage of training, and then the bottom team begins to rise to the top of their football league. In the meantime, on the home front, Dad distances himself from his family saying he needs “time for himself.” He ignores wife Andie MacDowell, herself grieving, but no one to turn to. There is a daughter, Rachel (Mandy Manis) who comes out of nowhere into the picture about halfway through the movie. It is football that brings the family together, but you wonder what happens to them when football season is over?
Acting in “The 5th Quarter” is average, with some actors reciting lines while others emoting. Andie MacDowell, with her expressive face, is a stand-out. You see how a wrong choice (riding with a wild driver) can cost you and how a right choice (organ donor) can be a life-saver. People show grief in different ways and how long it lasts depends on the person. In “The 5th Quarter” you see that members of a family start to move on, while one (Dad) lingers and this also shows the preference of a parent for one child over another, something that is shown, but not fully addressed in the film. It would have been interesting to have had an epilogue of years later to see how the Abbate family is doing.
Copyright 2011 Marie Asner