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Blue All Over

Boise State documentary answers pre-Fiesta Bowl questions


Miss Teen South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton couldn't account for why one-fifth of Americans can't locate their own country on a map. If the statistic is accurate, the odds of an average Joe finding Boise—or even Idaho—are slim to none.

And yet, on the first day of 2007, living room occupants and bar patrons all over this nation were collectively chanting "C'mon, Boise!" in unison. Inability to locate it notwithstanding, the United States had decidedly heard of Idaho's capital city.

The instant classic 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in which diminutive Davidian Boise State overcame the Goliath Sooners of the University of Oklahoma will perhaps live in Idaho folklore forever. It was no surprise when the release of the game on DVD saw astronomical in-state sales. But seeing a season-ending explosion like the Fiesta Bowl without witnessing the precursory activities of The Little Team That Could is like drawing an elaborate exclamation point without a detailed sentence beforehand. The missing sentence is now available in the form of an 83-minute film documenting the roller coaster the Boise State football program has been on the last few years.

Homegrown Hollywood director and Boise State grad Michael Hoffman (A Midsummer Night's Dream, One Fine Day) presents the ultimate companion to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl—a behind-the-scenes look at what got the Broncos prepared to play on the fateful day. There are in-depth interviews with colorful position players, the coaching staff and Cinderella bowl stars Jared Zabransky and Ian Johnson. It covers the timeline running from the beginning of Zabransky's reign as starting QB, prior to Coach Dan Hawkins' flight to Boulder, Colo., culminating in a most unprecedented victory on New Year's Day. There's a guy who accidentally sat on a knife and a smart-alecky ball-snapper; the senior who missed his Fiesta and a backup wideout who made the most of a moment in the sun; a young man self-destructing and redeeming himself a season later in the desert.

The subtitle of Out of the Blue labels it "A Film About Life and Football at Boise State," but really it ought to be, "Why'd These Guys Play So Well? Find Out Inside!" Former offensive coordinator turned rookie head coach extraordinaire Chris Peterson sold the boys on a blue-collar attitude. And they bought it, no questions asked.

Is this the kind of film that every viewer will coo over? Perhaps not. Let us not forget it's a tale of athletes, not 9/11 firefighters—and though these boys are heroes to Rudy-esque over-achievers and sports pundits the world over, they are, after all, a bunch of dudes who happened to win 13 football games one year. Translation: Don't expect this to be a huge hit with folks within a hundred miles of Norman, Okla. Do, however, expect it to entertain the pants off of at least 30,000-ish Boiseans who pack Bronco Stadium on Thursdays and Saturdays every fall.

This is a hell of a fine documentary, perfectly covering its subject material. If it hadn't been helmed by Hoffman, a former Boise State student body president, produced by Heather Rae and Russell Friedenberg, two university professors, and musically scored by local music wizard Steve Fulton, it easily could've been an unemotional bore-fest. This particular reviewer got a stomachache when he was reminded of the 2006 Georgia debacle and goose bumps when he relived his favorite New Year's ever.

While a confounded Miss Teen USA pageant contestant may find difficulty explaining the appeal of a documentary about a local football team, I can put it into a succinct rhyme: If it has to do with the orange and blue, fans will buy it, used or new.

Playing Wed., Sept. 5, and Thu., Sept. 6 at The Flicks. See page 39 for movie times.