Movie Review – ‘Greater’

A stronger, more impressive walk-on story than the football classic “Rudy”, Brandon Burlsworth’s epic transition from awkward middle school player to All-American baller will have moviegoers standing and cheering!

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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While only 2% of college scholarship football players actually get their shot at the National Football League, for walk-on gridiron players the odds are even longer. When sports enthusiasts hear “walk-on football movie”, most immediately think of real-life Notre Dame football player Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, who was portrayed by Sean Astin in the motivational 1993 movie “Rudy”. Fewer football fans, though, may recall the true story of Brandon Burlsworth, the Arkansas native many sports experts consider the greatest walk-on player in the history of college football.

“Greater” is an uplifting, faith-based story that chronicles and celebrates a young, overweight boy (Burlsworth) from a broken home in Harrison, Arkansas, who only wants to fulfill his life-long dream to play college football for his favorite team–the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

This Christian film unapologetically preaches faith, family and football. Its storyline sermon takes on misfortune and boldly asks why God could place such agony and pain upon the shoulders of one family to carry.

Along Burlsworth’s long and remarkable college football journey in the late 1990’s, viewers witness a young man respond to every personal attack and setback with a smile and working even harder, always staying true to himself. “Greater” reinforces the notion that during difficult times, all we can control is how we respond to that crisis. The overall game plan, though, remains in God’s hands.

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The movie touches upon all the mental and physical struggles Brandon Burlsworth experienced. Yet it still promotes a hopeful message of stubborn determination and doing the right thing—even when no one is looking. “Greater” shines an unmistakable light on religious faith…one’s faith in God, and, faith in oneself. Both vital to helping friends, family and fans cope with life’s unforeseen challenges.

With Christianity and religion often ridiculed by the media and on the football field at the expense of devout players such as Tim Tebow, it’s refreshing to find a positive underdog story for believers and nonbelievers to get behind and cheer.

A stronger, more impressive walk-on story than the football classic “Rudy”, Brandon Burlsworth’s epic transition from awkward middle school player to All-American baller will have moviegoers standing and cheering! In “Rudy” Ruettiger’s case, he was focused on getting accepted to Notre Dame academically while exposing his body like a crash-test dummy at practice. In “Greater”, though, Burlsworth’s hard work went largely unnoticed until it was time to step onto the football field.

Making All-SEC Academic Honor Roll every year, his leadership directly helped turn a hapless Arkansas football into a national powerhouse and Top-10 ranked team. Burlsworth’s spirit comes through brightly in “Greater”, creating large holes for this film to run through nearly untouched.

Grade: B+

“Greater” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, an accident sequence and some violence.  It’s running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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