I had never heard of this movie until seeing it in the $5.50 DVD bin at Wal Mart. Because it's a football movie, it grabbed my attention and the synopsis on the back of the DVD case seemed funny and clever to me, so I bought it! As it turned out, I discovered a rare gem! Made with a largely unknown cast on a phenomenally low budget of $1.4 million, "Possums" apparently got very little theatrical distribution, which is a shame. Hopefully its new DVD release will help it get the attention it deserves.
"Possums" is a family oriented comedy about a colossally inept high school football team, the Nowata Possums, and its eternally optimistic radio commentator, Will Clark (played by Mac Davis). Clark passionately loves the team and never loses his zeal for them despite their embarrassing play. My wife and I both see a lot of myself in that character!
But shortly after completing their 13th consecutive season without a touchdown, Nowata's snobbish mayor, Charlie Lawton (Andrew Prine), attempts to shut down the team. Clark leads a heroic effort to save the Possums, but at a town meeting, residents overwhelmingly side with the mayor and the school's football program is dropped.
The next Autumn, Clark is feeling broken, as if a big piece of his life is missing. To make matters worse, plans are underway to tear down the football field and build a Wal Mart type store there. Clark deals with his broken heart by going into the radio station studio and continuing to broadcast Possums games - even though there are none anymore! People think he's nuts and his wife, Elizabeth (Cynthia Sikes) is furious as he buys radio time to air the fictional games at the expense of their family hardware store.
Evntually Nowata loves Clark's broadcasts, which have exciting finishes that culminate in the Possums winning. But the claims of victory anger the opposing teams, especially state champion Prattville, who challenge the Possums to a real game. Pratville's coach is played by former Dallas Cowboys and Oklahoma University coach Barry Swizter - the only person in the movie other than Davis who I was previously familiar with - who gives a great performance.
The Nowata-Prattville game brings out an interesting sub-plot as Clark attempts to bring in his estranged son, John (Jay Underwood), to coach the Possums.
I was strongly expecting Nowata to win the game and thought that would be a bit too much of a stretch - a team that hasn't scored a touchdown in 14 years and hasn't played a game all season beating the state champions. The ending didn't turn out quite the way I expected but it did give me a warm fuzzy feeling! If you're looking for a good football movie, a heartwarming comedy or some great family entertainment, it's hard to beat "Possums!" 8/10.
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