Razorbacks Remember Legend With Award
The Brandon Burlsworth Award will honor the former hog’s memory and help walk on hogs succeed.
The true story of the late Arkansas Razorbacks football hero Brandon Burlsworth is an underdog saga to rival “Rudy,” and while the modest Burlsworth biopic “Greater” doesn’t have that film’s inspirational spark, the indie drama is just sweet enough and slick enough to appeal to pigskin fans and Christian family audiences.
A fine cast helps. Neal McDonough (who also co-produced) plays Brandon’s older brother Marty, who raises him in lieu of their absentee alcoholic father (the always-excellent Michael Parks). Nick Searcy plays a mysterious figure Marty talks to about God during Brandon’s funeral, as the film’s framing device.
Star Christopher Severio gives a solid performance, if not up to the level of his more accomplished cast mates. The bigger problem though is that writer Brian Reindl and director David Hunt hit all the predictable beats too hard as Brandon overcomes his many doubters to become an All-American.
Still, Hunt and his crew also give “Greater” a polished look. And Burlsworth’s story is undeniably touching — and even a little unusual, since it’s not about some phenom, but instead salutes a hefty lineman who studied hard, followed his faith and became a role model to future Razorbacks.
The movie’s length is excessive and its arc over-familiar, but for those who don’t mind a little sap — or a lot — “Greater” is effective. Even Texas Longhorns might leave shouting, “Woo Pig Sooie.”
MPAA rating: PG, for thematic elements, some language and smoking.
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Playing: In general release
Greater: Official Trailer – Old #2
Brandon was a walk on turned All American at the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and 11 days later was tragically killed in a car accident. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation was founded in his name and has several programs: The Burls Kids program takes underprivileged children to all Arkansas Razorback and Indianapolis Colts home games. The BBF in partnership with Walmart provides eye care to 14,000 pre-K thru 12th grade students whose working families are trying, but still cannot afford extras like eye care and do not qualify for state funded programs. We hold football camps each year in Harrison and Little Rock and we have several football scholarship and awards including the Burlsworth Trophy, a national award given out to the most outstanding Division One college football player who began his career as a walk-on.