By Heather Leszczewicz Special to Published Aug 28, 2006 at 5:17 AM

Football is a game of big hits and crushing blows, but the fans make the sport. Die-hard fans stand by their team no matter how badly it is losing or how bad the weather is during a game. In the mid-1970s, the Philadelphia Eagles were one of those losing teams that fans stood behind, which made them almost “Invincible.”

At the start of a new season, the Eagles announced that the team has gotten a new coach, Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) and he’s made the unprecedented decision to hold open try-outs for roster spots. Out of all the people that show up, there’s one guy that makes an impression: Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg).

Papale went to the try-outs expecting nothing, but he ended up becoming Philadelphia's favorite son, with the city shoving nothing but support his way. He needs the support. His wife just left him, he lost his teaching job and all that he’s got left is a part-time bartending gig and football. He never played college ball, but found his calling as the MVP on the neighborhood league.

Papale becomes the dark horse on the road to a professional football career and no one’s making it easy on him. Every day he expects Coach Vermeil to cut him and he’d be happy going home with the experience. Vermeil sees something in Papale that makes him consider keeping this 30-year-old guy, who would be the oldest rookie ever.

Disney has produced plenty of underdog sports movies that have that feel good ending like “Cool Runnings,” “The Rookie” and the football film -- about a team not a single person -- “Remember the Titans.” And Wahlberg has no qualms about playing that one guy who comes from nothing to be something, as he did in “Boogie Nights” and “Rock Star.” It’s a winning combination for both company and star.

The focus of “Invincible” isn’t so much the sport and how well Papale played the game. It’s Papale’s life that people are supposed to take lessons from. He’s down and out, nothing to really live for. To prove something to himself and the people around him, he takes a chance expecting nothing -- both in football and in his love life.

Then again, the official training camp has close camera angles when it comes to each movement, block, pass and catch a player makes. The hits are so hard; a viewer can feel vicariously the pain that shoots through a player as body meets an opponent with the ground soon to follow.

The movie’s creators knew that Philadelphia was a great backdrop to the story of one of its greatest sport legends. A series of scenes are dedicated to Papale running through the city to show it off. Capturing football artistically, although many sports fans may disagree, doesn’t actually happen on the professional field. Scenes involving the neighborhood games are beautifully filmed and the green fields with the actual field goals don’t match up to the muddy park with cars lining the playing area.

Much of the two hour film recounts Papale and Vermeil’s stories as they pertain to home life or life outside of football. It’s important get some background information, but watching Papale on a date or Vermeil at home with the family takes away from the bond they are forging.

What is most disappointing is the ending sequence. The audience becomes invested in Papale, but the information on what he did later in life -- like the fact that he played for three seasons and where he’s living now -- runs right after a high point in his game. The ending arrives far too soon in his story. The entire movie spans only a few months which is only the tiniest bit of his career.

But what was most compelling about Papale’s story involves a note his first wife left him that acts as a driving force in his aspirations. Wahlberg puts forth a stellar performance especially in the scenes that come right after the first Mrs. Papale leaves.

Heather Leszczewicz Special to

Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.

However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.

Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson. 

Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.