There have been dozens of football movies released that focus on the game, the player and the family. But there aren't too many football films where the Madden NFL video game franchise plays a big role. Fantasy Football is a new movie set to premiere on Friday, Nov. 25 on Paramount+ that tells the story of journeyman NFL running back Bobby Coleman (Omari Hardwick) signing with the Atlanta Falcons in hopes to get his career on the right track. His daughter, Callie (Marsai Martin), is a Madden NFL expert who is looking for her big moment. After a scary incident involving Bobby, Callie and the video game Madden NFL 23, Callie realizes that she can control her dad while playing the game, leading to Bobby turning from a fumbling third-string running back into one of the top players in the NFL.
The story of Fantasy Football is obviously over-the-top, but that's the point. Having the ability to control real-life NFL players through a video game is a fan's dream, and Fantasy Football delivers on that aspect. And while that is a big part of the film, the heart of Fantasy Football is the relationship between a father and teenage daughter. Hardwick and Martin work well together on-screen, but we can't forget about Kelly Rowland who plays Bobby's wife and Callie's mother Keisha. Rowland is a natural at playing a character who has to be a family leader. Rowland is enjoyable to watch on-screen, and Fantasy Football is no different.
The supporting cast is led by Rome Flynn who plays rival running back Anderson Fisher. Bobby is not a fan of Anderson who broke the NFL rushing record as a rookie and let everyone knows it. Flynn, who has appeared in shows such as The Bold and the Beautiful and Grey's Anatomy, is entertaining as Anderson, an arrogant player who thinks everything revolves around him.
With Fantasy Football being produced by NFL Films, there are appearances from NFL personalities, specifically Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who plays the Falcons' head coach. It's interesting to see Gonzalez as the head coach since he played for the Falcons from 2009-2013. There are also appearances from Nate Burleson, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo who work for CBS and cover NFL games every Sunday. Fantasy Football is also produced by Nickelodeon, a network under the Paramount umbrella that is starting to air NFL games as well. Adding NFL personalities to the mix was a nice touch, as they add validity to the film.
Fantasy Football is not an epic football movie that takes fans on an emotional roller coaster. But it is a heartwarming family film that happens to have a lot of football and video game action. Even if you aren't a fan of the NFL, Madden NFL, or football in general, Fantasy Football is a movie worth watching during the Thanksgiving weekend.