The death of a promising young athlete just days before his 16th birthday inspires his older brother to lead his college football team to new heights in The 5th Quarter, the moving saga of the Abbate family of Marietta, Georgia. Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell, and Ryan Merriman star in this true story from writer/director Rick Bieber.
When 15-year-old Luke Abbate (Stefan Guy) is killed in a tragic car accident, the loss leaves his close-knit family reeling with grief. Fueled by faith and their deep familial bond, the Abbates try to rebuild their lives without Luke, fulfilling his wish to help others by donating his organs to save the lives of five other people. But despite the support of loving friends and family, his death leaves a void in their lives that threatens to tear the family apart. Struggling with the devastating loss, Luke’s older brother Jon (Ryan Merriman), a gifted football player at Wake Forest University, decides to honor his brother’s memory and love for the game by dedicating the 2006 season to him.
I really wanted to like this film. I usually love football films and this is based on true events. I feel horrid for saying I dislike a film about a grieving family because I definitely do not want to diminish their grief and life. So, keep in mind that this is no reflection on the family...and more on my admiration for them later. However, the film had some definite over-acting and scenes that didn't quite make sense to me. I understand that each family member had good days and bad days, so that didn't bother me...much. It just had a disjointed feel to it, and odd moments that I guess were supposed to be inspirational. The film started out good, and even if they express their faith differently than I do, I never did understand what part their faith had with the healing process.
What I like about the film is the awareness it brings to both reckless driving with teens and organ donation. There are some very graphic scenes in the film about the accident. This is certainly not for younger children, but I think 14+ should see exactly what can happen when they drive carelessly or are in the car with someone who does. One of the most emotional scenes for me was "Luke" telling the driver to let him out or to stop the car. I also keep thinking of that driver and how he has to live with his mistake for the rest of his life. So, I would recommend this film to be shown to teens. The Abbate family formed the Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation to make the seriousness of this issue available to young drivers. The other reason for the foundation is to talk about organ donation. Through Luke's death, 5 other people were able to receive his organs. I am a strong believer in this gift of life to others, and have always let my family know that I want to to let others use any part of me they can after my death.
So, not a really good film, but a couple of messages that make it worth your time to watch.