The Program

September 24th, 1993


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Still of David S. Ward in The ProgramStill of James Caan and Abraham Benrubi in The ProgramStill of James Caan and Craig Sheffer in The ProgramStill of Craig Sheffer and Kristy Swanson in The ProgramStill of Kristy Swanson in The ProgramStill of James Caan and David S. Ward in The Program

Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university...

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 6.1/10 (4,575 voted)

Director: David S. Ward

Stars: James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps

Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university. Each deals with the pressure differently, some turn to drinking, others to drugs, and some to studying.

Writers: David S. Ward, Aaron Latham

James Caan - Sam Winters
Halle Berry - Autumn Haley
Omar Epps - Darnell Jefferson
Craig Sheffer - Joe Kane
Kristy Swanson - Camille Shafer
Abraham Benrubi - Bud-Lite Kaminski
Duane Davis - Alvin Mack
Jon Pennell - Bobby Collins (as Jon Maynard Pennell)
Joey Lauren Adams - Louanne (as Joey Adams)
J.C. Quinn - Joe's Father
Andrew Bryniarski - Steve Lattimer
J. Leon Pridgen II - Ray Griffen
Michael Flippo - Coach Humes (as Mike Flippo)
Jeff Portell - Reporter #1
Ernest Dixon - Coach Clayton

Taglines: Pressure surrounds them. Competition divides them. Talent unites them. A story of what it takes to survive...

Release Date: 24 September 1993

Filming Locations: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Gross: $23,004,026 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Michigan coaching legend Glenn E. (Bo) Schembechler is in the booth providing color commentary for the Michigan game.

Audio/visual unsynchronized: There's no possible way Darnell Jefferson would be able to speak so clearly while having a mouthpiece in his mouth during the game against Michigan.

Coach Winters: We gotta ring that bell! We gotta to ring that championship bell!
Steve Lattimer: Ding motherfu**ing dong!

User Review

Underrated, Accurate Football Movie Starring the Godfather's James Caan

Rating: 8/10

Trips Bunch. The Power I. The Cover 2. If you know what these terms mean, and understand their uses in football strategy, then you'll really enjoy watching David S. Ward's the Program. Ward also wrote and directed Major League, a great movie; however, with The Program, it is obvious how much his sports writing style has evolved.

The movie traces one season of college football for a once dominate, but now struggling Division 1 powerhouse, the fictional ESU Timeberwolves. James Caan is hilarious and well-cast as the Head Coach on the hot seat, and it's really great watching him deal with serious issues both on and off the field. Craig Shaeffer does a solid job at both his role and the QB position. His character is like a young, much more tortured Steve Young: he can throw the long ball, he can buy time with his feet, and he can do it all while battling inner demons. Omar Epps (the Wood) is simply perfectly cast as Darnell Jefferson, the prototype freshman Tailback fighting for his spot on the 1st team (plus the beautiful Halle Berry plays his love interest).

The movie is filled with hilariously awesome lines and performances, and is a classic among people who actually play football. While the editing work could be scrutinized among movie Nazis (the editing job when Kane and his girl are riding his motorcycle is questionable at times), the good far outweighs the bad. Namely, the in-helmet camera work really puts you on the field with them. Overall, David S. Ward does an excellent job of jumping from perspective to perspective, and it quickly builds into this chaotic, early 90s mosaic of Division 1 college football. And surprisingly, the issues explored in the film really resonate with the issues going on in today's sports (i.e. Steroids, Motorcycle death wishes).

Listen, if you haven't seen this movie, and you love football, and are of mild intelligence, then you are either really young or really lucky that you missed it because I wish i could watch it again for the first time. However, if you have no appreciation for the game of football, you're better off going elsewhere. Football idealists, be warned as well. This movie is the anti-Rudy. It's the story of one school's fight for a bowl bid, and fighting for that bid at all costs.

PS- My vote is very biased. I love to quote this movie with friends. I love to watch football on both Saturday and Sunday. I play fantasy football. I play Madden. I played Division 3 football in college. You have been warned. The only reason I didn't rate it higher than I did is because some of the scenes between Joe Kane and his woman can get a little bit slow. But she's cute if that helps you out at all (her early 90's style is classic).