23 BLAST – A Review by John Strange

By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Dylan Baker
Cast: Dylan Baker, Alexa Vega, Stephen Lang, Mark Hapka, Kim Zimmer, Max Adler and Bram Hoover
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 (for some teen drinking)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 98 Min.
As Texans, my friends and I have grown up watching football, especially high school football.  23 Blast is the true story about the small town of Corbin, Kentucky where the high school team has had a great run on the shoulders of a quarterback, Travis Freeman (Mark Hapka) and his best friend, the ne’er-do-well running back, Jerry Baker (Bram Hoover).  Travis is a hero to the town both on and off the field.
Travis comes down with an infection that settles in his head and affects the optic nerves causing him to go blind.  He and the town go into shock at first.  No one knows what will become of the young man who has put so much of his life into playing the game of football. 
Coach Farris (Stephen Lang) has been the boys’ coach since their pee-wee league days.  He is the type of coach every young man prays to have and few ever do.  His approach to coaching is to build up the players not knock them down and force them into a model of the coach’s desires.
With Travis, Coach Farris has a real challenge.  The young man who has been the leader of the team no longer has a clear goal in life.  College football is out now.  Travis has to first learn how to walk across a room and then how to get around without someone to lead him before he can get on with his life.
Enter Patty Wheatley (Becky Ann Baker), a physical therapist whose no nonsense approach wakes the young man up and gets him to thinking about the future again.  He returns to school and begins to get his life back in order.
Sadly, his friend Jerry is not doing as well.  His attitude has been affecting his receptions and he is no longer the go-to receiver on the team.  The new quarterback has a receiver who is not screwing up.  Jerry is imploding, drinking and not trying to fight his way back to the first team.  His chance to get a football scholarship and get out of the town are rapidly shrinking. Only a miracle can save him.
Travis has something or rather someone else in his favor, his friend Ashley (Alexa Vega).  Ashley spends time with Travis and together they “watch” the team practice in the afternoons.  Coach Farris comes over one afternoon to talk with the watchers and in the course of their discussion discovers that maybe there is a place on the team for Travis.
As I said at the beginning of this review, this is a true story.  The story is uplifting and heart-breaking at the same time just as any real life story should.  As you watch the credits you will see the real people who are portrayed in the film.  They are in the stands of the stadium where the final game has been played.  As much as I enjoyed watching this film, I loved seeing the real people even more.  This is a film you should make time to see.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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