"The Program" (1993):
The film opens with two college football teams playing in unbelievably intense rain. It then flashes to the new school year. Darnell Johnson (Omar Epps) is a cocky first year running back at Eastern State University. Omar was always either type casted or was very interested in roles where he plays a college athlete (See “Higher Learning” and “Love & Basketball.”) Craig Sheffer plays Joe Kane, the second year quarterback, with the potential to win the Heisman Trophy but has a serious problem with alcohol, which puts his playing career in jeopardy.
It’s cute to see Craig aka Uncle Keith as a tough football player. Kristy Swanson embraces the brunette life as Camille, Joe’s girlfriend, in a small performance. James Caan plays Sam Winters, the football coach, in an endearing role trying to build up his players and keep the football program alive.
Autumn (Halle Berry) is Darnell’s tutor. What is common with Autumn’s character to other black college girls in film is the pretty, well to do girl who is conflicted by having to choose between the “roughneck hoodlum” (See: “Drumline”) and the guy who is a butthole but can impress Daddy (See “Stomp The Yard.“) For once, can there be a film where the black girl focuses on her education and not doing the do or being in a relationship? Autumn was noted as being Darnell’s girlfriend but it hardly seemed so in the movie.
Football is the world for most people. It can be their way out of abject poverty and into a better situation for their family. "The Program” is heartwarming and cheesy about the same time.