REVIEW: American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story (2021)

If you’re like me and have been watching football for a long time, you know all about Kurt Warner. If you’re also like me, you were glued to the TV in January of 2000 as you watched Kurt Warner shock the nation with a Super Bowl win and an MVP title. He was a washed-up football player turned grocery stock boy, having been cut from the Green Bay Packers before the season started in 1994 before moving on to the much-criticized Arena Football League in 1995. He was almost 30 years old. Many people thought, “There’s no way this guy is worth investing in; the Rams are crazy” – and he proved everyone wrong. It was a Cinderella Story for the ages, something to encourage us all to never give up on our dreams, no matter how hard things get.

American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story is the first movie ever to depict Warner’s amazing story, and I loved every second of it. Most of us know the bullet points of Kurt’s story, but this movie goes into the depths of just how strong his and his wife Brenda’s bond is. It’s a film full of love, triumph, and, most importantly, faith. American Underdog does not shy away from showcasing just how important Kurt and Brenda’s faith in God was and is to them and their journey. Don’t worry, though: it’s not a “preachy” movie at all, so if that was a concern for you, rest assured that while this film acknowledges their faith and how it got them through even the most impossible situations in their lives, it does not preach or try to convert the viewer to believe like them.

Zachary Levi plays three-time Super Bowl winner Kurt Warner, and I may be biased here because I’m a huge fan of his, but he did an absolutely phenomenal job. It’s been an honor to watch Zac’s career flourish the way it has, and I really hope this movie puts him even more in the spotlight and grants him so many more opportunities. He adapted his voice to match the way Kurt speaks, and he went to “quarterback training” to learn to throw a football properly. Levi threw himself into this role, and it shows.

Kurt’s wife, Brenda, is portrayed by Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood), and as always, she does a fantastic job as well. Anna is a brilliant actress, and her chemistry with Levi brings Kurt and Brenda’s 29-year relationship to life and their love story believable. There’s a scene in the movie where Brenda’s faith is completely shattered, and Anna’s raw emotion is heartbreaking.

American Underdog

The rest of the cast is just as good. Brenda already has two kids when we first meet her, Zack (Hayden Zaller) and Jesse (Cora Wilkerson), and both child actors are not only adorable but really good actors. They are definitely going places, especially 11-year-old Hayden, who is legally blind in real life. That doesn’t get in his way at all, though, and he steals the show in just about every scene in which he appears. I can’t wait to see where his career goes! American Underdog also has Dennis Quaid as NFL Coach Dick Vermeil and Adam Baldwin as University of Northern Iowa coach Terry Allen. It was terrific to see Baldwin and Levi together again (they starred side by side in the series Chuck from 2007-2012); their chemistry is off the charts, and if you’re a fan of Chuck, you’ll get a kick out of Baldwin yelling at Levi like old times. Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of Dick Vermeil is spot-on. He’s not in the movie until towards the end, but he absolutely nails it. Vermeil was one of the very few people who believed in Warner when he fought to bring him onto the Rams’ roster, telling him, “There’s something special about you, son, and I can’t wait to find out what it is.” The real Dick Vermeil was very impressed with Quaid’s portrayal of himself as well, telling USA Today, “My wife even said that he did a better job than I do.”

American Underdog

With an excellent cast and an emotional story, American Underdog is one I highly recommend watching. The directors and writers did a great job bringing Kurt and his story to the big screen; the praise they’ve gotten from both Warner and Brenda speaks for itself. One of my absolute favorite moments of this movie is the ending, and the editing of Super Bowl XXXIV with actual NFL footage mixed with the actors was a genius move. It takes you right back to when you watched it for yourself, and the emotions are heavy. Shout-out to the NFL for allowing that to be done because it really adds to the film. This movie will have you laugh, cry, and when it’s over, have an exuberant amount of hope that things really will work out; you just have to trust in destiny.

And destiny? Well, it’s for the underdogs.

American Underdog is available on digital and also in select theaters now.

American Underdog Review

Plot - 10
Acting - 10
Directing/Editing - 9
Music/Sound - 9
True Story - 10



With an excellent cast and an emotional story, American Underdog is one I highly recommend watching. The directors and writers did a great job bringing Kurt and his story to the big screen; the praise they've gotten from both Warner and Brenda speaks for itself.

Comments (1)

February 14, 2022 at 1:34 pm

“Zachary Levi plays three-time Super Bowl winner Kurt Warner.” I know what you meant but he only only one once not 3x

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