When I first heard about the film project called “Last Day at Lambeau,” my initial reaction was, WHY? Why re-open Packers fans’ wounds when the scars have been healing so nicely? After watching the film, I learned the answer to that question (but we’ll get to that a bit later).
I received an advance press copy of the film in the mail last week. I resisted the temptation to watch it right away, instead deciding to wait for the weekend, when I would have more time to devote to it and watch it more than once, if needed (I watched it twice).
Saturday night came along and the time to watch had arrived. I popped the DVD into my DVD player with a certain level of trepidation. I didn’t really need to go back there, and was sure I knew everything there was to know about the events of that offseason. I was wrong on both counts.
The name of the film is quite catchy, but doesn’t give the film justice, as this documentary covers the entire period from Favre’s last game as a Packer to his last season with the Vikings (specifically, his final game at Lambeau).
The film makes heavy use of interviews with media members, bloggers and fans in Green Bay who lived and breathed the situation. For someone who doesn’t live in Wisconsin, it helped to give me, for the first time, a true feeling for what it must have been like. Only now can I begin to truly comprehend thn emotional toll these events took on the citizens of Green Bay.
The film opens with some conversations with young autograph seekers outside of Lambeau Field, showing off their collections of cards and items players had given them. It sets the tone for the adulation these players receive in Green Bay, but soon after that, we are painfully re-living Favre’s last completion as a Packer – to Corey Webster of the Giants. And then all hell broke loose.
What follows is a detailed chronological examination of the Brett Favre retirement saga, in the poignant and reflective words of local media members, juxtaposed with the emotional reaction of fans.
The commentary from Tom Pelissero and Lori Nickel are the most powerful in the film. Tom for his straightforward, cut-through-the-bull analysis of one Brett Lorenzo Favre, Lori for her picture-painting descriptions of the chilly environment at 1265 Lombardi Avenue and the emotional strain heaped upon the local fans.
For me, the film helped put into context and solidify who Brett Favre really is. Without taking sides, the film closely examines Brett’s actions over that period. As many of the events in Brett Favre’s life will tell you, Brett is simply a very imperfect man.
There were some new things I learned from this film, though none were major. For instance, I didn’t know about Mike McCarthy’s appearance at a Boys and Girls Club around that time, where he fielded (but didn’t answer) a non-stop barrage of Brett Favre questions from the kids.
I also didn’t realize (or maybe have chosen to forget), just how important it was to Brett to come back to Green Bay and “stick it to” the Packers. The footage in the film from his first visit to Lambeau in a purple jersey is incredibly telling. You can read the look on his face as easily as you can read a kindergartner’s book. It meant EVERYTHING to him.
Steve, “The Homer” True sums the moment up nicely;
“Other than winning the Super Bowl, I can’t believe he ever felt as great walking off the field as he did after beating the Packers at Lambeau Field. And I know what he’s thinking; this isn’t the Packers home, this is MY home. I own Lambeau Field. And if you’re a Packer fan, nothing could be more painful.”
The film ends with Favre’s last game at Lambeau Field, where he twice almost wins the game on the final two plays. As the second of those two trys falls incomplete, Packers’ radio announcer Wayne Larrivee exclaims, “There is the most satisfying Dagger the Green Bay Packers will ever throw.”
And that brings me back to my question at the start of this review. Why did we need this film? While I can’t predict anyone else’s reaction to this film, it was surprisingly cathartic for me. I can honestly say I needed to watch these events play out one more time to help me finally close this chapter in my memory’s book of Packers history.
I highly recommend that all Packers fans and for that matter, any true NFL fans see this film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe, you’ll marvel, but most of all, you’ll come out feeling like you just made a major breakthrough in your Packers psychotherapy sessions. I can now calmly look back on that time without getting angry all over again. Serenity Now!
Kudos to writer/director Michael Neelson for bringing us this film and also to Will Lindow for his fine original score.
Here’s a 5-minute sample clip :
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.