Director – Thaddeus D. Matula (director of Pony Excess)
Length – 90 minutes with commercial (77 minutes without)
Installment – #66 of 30 for 30/ESPN Films series
Most Similar To – Pony Excess, The Best That Never Was
Grade/Ranking -Mid-teens out of 66.
Review – If you read my reviews from a year ago, you may remember I gave most of last season’s 30 for 30 installments middle tier grades in the 15-35 range out of all the 30 for 30’s. At some point in the comings months, I’ll release a full ratings of all the ESPN 30 for 30’s/ESPN Films and having put together these rankings has been helpful in realizing that last year I was too kind as some of the films I graded out last year ended up being a good dozen or so sports lower in my full rankings (similar to how when NFL writers guess the regular season records of all 32 teams, often people realize that the predictions don’t have an equal amount of wins as losses across the league). This year with a barebones ranking of all the films completed, it was my goal to be more accurate in my grade/rankings for each new film.
This is a roundabout way of me telling you that this season has been quite good. Brian And The Boz is the 4th installment this season and while outside the top ten, it’s certainly in the top twenty and while this season will need time to gestate, it may be my favorite thus far. Out of 65 films, I have all four of this season’s films in the top 30 with three of them, including Brian And The Boz, being somewhere in the teens as of now.
If you enjoyed Pony Excess, you’ll find a similar style, pace, and subject matter here, which makes sense given the two films share the same director in Thaddeus D. Matula. I’ve said many times before that I specifically have a sweet-spot for documentaries that focus on the 80’s, before the rise of the cable and later the web and social media, and for me a period of time where I was mostly too young to get a full grasp on the world of sports.
The Boz was a product of the 80’s, a decade in college football that has now produced stories for six of these films (The Maronivich Project, The U, Pony Excess, You Don’t Know Bo, and The Best That Never Was) and is always tabbed as college football’s breakthrough decade in terms of media exposure and monetization of the sport. While The U is essentially the glamorization of Miami’s meteoric rise as a college football’s evil superpower, Brian And The Boz is a well crafted chronicling of the rise and fall of one of college football’s most memorable villains.
Framed by modern day scenes of The Boz (Brian now actually, The Boz is long gone) going on a trip with his son to a storage locker of clippings and memorabilia kept of Bosworth’s career, the film has a very slick pace despite being one of the longer 30 for 30’s. Matula was able to get a very comprehensive group of participants (many of which were in Pony Excess) that include Barry Switzer, Brent Musburger, and Rick Reilly who actually helped pen his controversial autobiography.
Brian And The Boz doesn’t feel like a 90 minute movie at all and that mirrors the rapid developments in Bosworth’s career. In the time it took me to go off to and graduate college, Bosworth won 2 Butkus awards, was suspended for steroids, kicked off the team, bumped heads with the NCAA, tried to game the NFL draft system, sued the NFL over his jersey number, wrote a high profile autobiography, made waves in the NFL, and was out of the league not that long after. The majority of this was shrewdly planned or marketed specifically to build up the legend and brand of The Boz.
If I had one gripe with the film, it’s that we don’t get much insight into the meticulous branding and maneuvering Bosworth and his agent engaged in. Bosworth comes off as a very sympathetic character throughout as the film ties a lot of his appetite for rebellion to his stern father and an agent who embraced his ascension as football’s biggest villain. Visibly shaken at times, you got the sense that Bosworth still hasn’t come to peace with everything that went down in his brief playing career.
Despite having some doubts that already knowing much about Bosworth would make the film a bit redundant, the reality is that Bosworth’s story has so many compelling and notable events (and the filmmaking quality is high enough) that you’re very likely to enjoy Brian And The Boz. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed almost all of the 30 for 30’s that have centered around the 80’s and in particular the college football ones. If you also find yourself in that boat, here is another signature retelling of what seems like a whirlwind of a time to be a sports fan.