Sometimes, movies tend to be a bit out of balance when it comes to acting & story. Either the actors overshadow a middling plot, or the plot is solid but the actors don't live up to the billing. "Remember The Titans", however, provides the perfect blend of acting and story to create an incredible tapestry of emotion from beginning to end.
For a basic plot summary, "Remember The Titans" is loosely based on the story of Virginia public school TC-Williams going through the integration process in the early 1970s. When legendary white coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is replaced by black newcomer Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), the entire football program (and school in general) is thrown into the type of turmoil that integration would usually produce. At first, All-American defenseman Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) refuses to play with his new black teammates. Helped along by the tenacity and shrewdness of Coach Boone, as well as a friendship with new player Julius Campbell (Wood Harris), Bertier and all his teammates face the choice of either coming together or having the whole program fall apart.
Clearly, the deep racial themes in this film (quite similar to the more recently-produced "The Help") are what drive the primary emotions derived from it. As a nation, integration is a topic that both embarrasses and inspires us...all at the same time. This produces a cacophony of emotion that makes for dramatic viewing. Director Boaz Yakin perfectly capitalizes on that emotionally potential by crafting an airtight script/story that never drags or stagnates. Something is always happening (whether on the field or off it) that gives the viewer something significant to ponder.
Only helping matters is the fact that this is one of the most well-casted films ever created. Washington is masterful as Coach Boone (the pivotal role in the film), but even he is matched by the performances of the surrounding cast. Patton, Hurst, and Harris especially stand out, but are also joined by Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Kip Pardue, Kate Bosworth, and Ryan Gosling. A very young Hayden Panettiere even gets in on the acting greatness in a magnificent role. By the end of the picture, you will feel as if you are right in the stands cheering on the Titans, as the characters will come so alive.
Mention must also be given to the musical score, a combination of period pieces (a locker room rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is a treat) and incredible orchestration from Trevor Rabin. An emotional film like this needed a great soundtrack, and it sure does deliver.
Overall, "Remember The Titans" is one of my favorite movies of all-time for its mixing of drama, comedy, historic themes, music, and characters that will absolutely come alive. I don't see how anyone can sit down and watch this masterpiece and not enjoy it.