A Second Chance, by David Bax
It wouldn’t really make sense for me to write a regular review for The 5th Quarter since it’s not really a regular movie. Insofar as it is, it’s hackneyed and manipulative in the worst way, executed at every turn with superficial direction choices and a general lack of understanding when it comes to editing. Aidan Quinn and Andie MacDowell, actors who have been transcendent in the past, are mere functionaries here, as is every other element of the film.
But when it comes to what it is all actually in function of, the temptation arises to give the movie a pass. The true story of a family who lost their youngest child at the age of fifteen and then channeled their grief into their oldest, who then inspired his 2006 Wake Forest football team to a miracle season, The 5th Quarter is essentially a 100-minute commercial for the charities that have been set up in the late Luke Abbate’s name, including a heavy advocacy for organ donation.
A digression now. My father died almost 7 ½ years ago, very suddenly at the age of 45. You wouldn’t know it based on his eldest son’s misanthropy but my dad was a guy that everyone liked. The funeral procession was well over a mile long and the funeral home manager said it was about the most well-attended wake he’d ever seen. The effect he’d had on his fellow man during his time here was mightily apparent. It might have ended there but, luckily for us, my parents believed strongly in, and had extensively discussed, organ donation. My dad, being healthier than the average 45-year-old man, was a ripe donor and was able to provide a handful of organs for transplant. In the ensuing years, we’ve become close with the family of the boy who got one of his kidneys but, even if we hadn’t, the knowledge that pieces of him lived on and saved lives goes a long, long way toward making his untimely death easier to accept.
The Abbate family, in The 5th Quarter and probably in real life, believe in God and in an afterlife. I don’t. However, even with its almost pitiable amateurishness, the movie illustrates the very real, physical and lasting ways in which the dead stay with us. It’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do with their remnants.