Last Day at Lambeau: A Film Review

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Last Day at Lambeau Film
Last Day at Lambeau Premieres April 18, 2012, Wisconsin Film Festival

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.

“Last Day at Lambeau” will make its premiere at the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival April 18-22. You can follow the film on Twitter and be sure to “like” the film’s Facebook page.

Here’s a 5-minute sample clip :

 

 

 

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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.

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  • Bearmeat

    I live in Austin – where the film’s creator, Michael Neelson lives.

    In 2009, I went to Billy’s on Burnet (The Best Packers Bar in Texas) to watch the 3rd Packers preseason game. This place was filled with Green and Gold fans.

    Well, BLF coverage came up ESPN during halftime, and I stood up and started shouting “BOOOOO! BOOO! YOU SUCK! SHUTUP!” There was some laughter from the crowd. Some indignation. But mostly, just pain.

    Michael came up to me and asked to interview me on my reasons for hating the dongslinger. He mentioned this project he was about to start working on: “Favre’s last day at Lambeau”

    I said, sure – let’s meet up, but he never called me back.

    I’m sure I’ll get a copy – He seemed to be really into the project. There is a lot of film/music expertise down here in Austin.

    Just thought I’d share…

    • Ben

      FYI: Billy’s on Burnet is really a great time, but the best Packer bar in Texas is Nick’s in Houston.

    • Ben

      FYI: Billy’s on Burnet is really a great time, but the best Packer bar in Texas is Nick’s in Houston.

      As for Favre — I’m still feeling the aftershocks of PTSD after seeing my childhood hero in purple. It’s good to know this documentary is out there, but, at least for this guy, it’s too soon. Let’s just keep enjoying No. 12 and try to forget those dark days gone by.

  • Ron LC

    Brent who?

    • JimR_in_DC

      ^ This. I cannot imagine paying money to watch what I (painfully) watched play out in the media a few years ago. Having said that, you did a nice job on your review of this film, Al.

      • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

        I’m sure many people will feel that way, Jim, but it really is a worthwhile watch.

  • Mojo

    As critical as I was over the past five or six years of Brents stay with the Packers I was willing to move on and give him his proper due in the annals of GB history. I won’t even get into the retirement(s) fiasco and the unnecessary distress he put Packers management and fan base under. But in my mind he “crossed the Rubicon” when he went to great lengths to try and “stick-it” to the Packers. You can have negative qualities or characteristics, but you never come after my Green Bay Packers. After that Brent was dead to me.

  • Chad Toporski

    When people find out I’m a Packers fan, they often end up asking how I felt about the whole Favre situation. For me, it’s never been an overly emotional issue, so I’m definitely interested in checking out this film when I can. Perhaps it will help me, as it did Al, understand what life was like at the center of it all.

  • Pete Kliman

    I never really had any anger towards any side because I understood both sides. TT was very courageous and made the right move. As far as Favre was concerned,knowing his drive, how could anyone expect him to react differently.I live in Jersey and took a lot of flack for rooting for him when he was a Jet and in the championship game with the Vikings. I’ll probably take some more right now from the readers ,but I don’t care. I can be very understanding because FAVRE brought the Packers from the depths,which was 1980 Bruce Clark is our first pick in the draft 4th overall and decides to play in Canada. That was tough to handle.

  • Geof Knight

    The mention of the fans is relevant, but I disagree with Nickel or others who maintain the Packers should have “acknowledged the fans.” How? To what extent? Run the Packers on a fan-referendum basis? Duh, no. The Packers may be a publicly owned team, but there’s a chosen structure, and the chosen leaders make the decisions. An occasional decision may cause questioning, but to suggest that an organization must tack to the wind of fan whims is asking for suicide in organizational stability and success on the field. The only *possibly* correct concession to the fans could have been to say, “We hear your concern and appreciate the appreciation for BLF’s great career. But the decisions have been made and we hope fans understand and accept.” That would have been enough. Had Favre been 33 or had left on top of his game, MAYBE the handling of his departure could be questioned. But given BLF’s own announcement, the Packers organization did the right thing to about 97% of its ability. The cry from fans at the time shows democracy amok: Like simply having a feeling qualifies people to make decisions about any and everything! Similar to the JFK assassination, case closed and enough said.

  • Gonzo

    What just happened with Peyton Manning IS WHAT SHOULD have happened with Brett. They should have said thanks for all Brett and here is your release. That was what Brett wanted. The organization treated him badly in that regard and that is what pissed him off. When they wouldn’t give him his release they could have traded him to TB where HE wanted to go but they traded him to the lowly 4 and 12 Jets. If they had just released him or traded him to TB he wouldn’t have wanted to stick it to the Packers. The Colts treated Manning like a man and respected him.

    • Zack

      BTW I’m a little insulted that you’re using the alias of one of my favorite writers of all time… It’s not even about the quality of your writing (which no offense, doesn’t even come anywhere near his… no one since him does). It’s on par with Joe Flacco naming himself as the best QB in the league. Maybe I’m being a little sensitive but some things are sacred and to say that you’re tooting your own horn would be a gross understatement.

  • Gonzo

    And by the way…Peyton was ready and willing to go to arch rival Tennesee and no one seemed to have a problem with that, Colts management,fans AND MEDIA. So all you crybaby Packer fans that had a problem with him going to MN are just that crybabies. Sport is a busines as well and players go to other teams ALL THE TIME..to archrivals.

    • Oppy

      Cry babies? Seriously?

      You don’t just give your division rivals a massive upgrade. You speak of football being a business. Giving a division rival a huge upgrade at the QB position- and doing so without any compensation- is horrible business.

      P.s.- Peyton didn’t want his release specifically to play for the Colt’s “Arch Rival Tennessee”. He *entertained* the offer *after* he was released. P.P.S.: He didn’t take the job. And he clearly didn’t just want to “stick it” to the Colts.

      If you cannot differentiate between these scenarios, I don’t know what else I can say to you.

      • Zack

        Nicely put Oppy. Allow me to add that if you’re looking at this from a business perspective I wouldn’t make that comment specific to just your division rival. I’d take it a step further: if we can get compensation from ANY team for ANY player it would be a terrible business to not jump on that opportunity so it seems that both Gonzo and Favre are the ones not looking at this from a business perspective. You both expected preferential treatment and Green Bay took a stand that they will not treat him differently than another player… saying that he earned more than that is sentimentalism and you (Gonzo) sir are acting more like the “cry baby” that you are portraying Green Bay fans to be…

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Let me add that Manning did not retire, then want to come back weeks later, then change his mind after the packers agreed, then show up in camp to force the Packers hand.

      There is NO comparison between the 2 situations. As Oppy said, if you don’t see that, there’s nothing else to say.