The 5th Quarter (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

“The 5th Quarter” may not be for everyone, nor is it a perfect film but for an independent, spiritual and inspirational film with a lot of football incorporated to the film, I enjoyed it.  I was moved by it.  And yes, as a father… I found myself crying as well.  I recommend this film and this Blu-ray release!

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TITLE: The 5th Quarter


DURATION: 89 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English SDH and Spanish

RATED: PG (Thematic Material, Some Language, Some Images and Brief Smoking)

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2011

Written and Directed by Rick Bieber

Produced by Rick Bieber

Co-Produced by Doug Ames, Ryan Johnston

Executive Producer: Alan Cohen, Robert McCreary

Associate Producer: Joel McDonell, Abby Gail Palanker

Line Producer: Phil Smoot

Music by Andy Mendelson

Cinematography by Craig Haagensen

Edited by Mark Conte

Casting by Monika Mikkelsen

Production Design by Sophia Madalana Martinez Moore

Art Direction by Sarah Costello

Set Decoration by Aiyana Trotter

Costume Design by Deborah Latham


Aidan Quinn as Steven Abbate

Ryan Merriman as Jon Abbate

Andie MacDowell as Maryanne Abbate

Stefan Guy as Luke Abbate

Andrea Powell as Bonnie

Anessa Ramsey as Lynn Garber

Jillian Batherson as Hailey Scott

Michael Harding as Coach Jim Grobe

Bonnie Johnson as Joan Kinsey

Maureen Mountcastle as Pam Steele

Kristen Nicole LaPrade as Susie Simons

Patrick Stogner as Henry

Jon Stafford as Coach Billings

When a close-knit family is nearly broken by tragedy, hope is restored by their eldest son who carries the weight of victory on his shoulders in THE 5TH QUARTER, coming to Blu-ray and DVD August 30 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

A recent recipient of the Dove Foundation’s “Family-Approved” seal for all audiences over the age of twelve and in the spirit of The Blind Side, comes this inspiring true story of family, faith and football. Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall, A Shine of Rainbows) and Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Groundhog Day) deliver emotionally stirring performances as the mother and father of Jon Abbate, a rising football star at Wake Forest University. Their lives are suddenly shattered when the family’s youngest son, Luke, is killed in a tragic accident. Inspired by Luke’s memory, Jon courageously leads the Wake Forest team to a series of last-minute victories — leading to a thrilling climax that will “make you stand up and cheer”
(NYC Movie Guru).

In life, nothing is certain.  Sometimes when things are going good, sometimes there are things that happen in life that can easily derail one’s life.

In the case of “The 5th Quarter”, the true story is about how tragedy derailed a family but how one young teenager’s death, gave life to five individuals and how another son used his brother’s memory gave him strength to overcome tragedy and eventually helped him as a college football player for Wake Forest University.

This is the story of the Abbate family which became an inspirational sports story but became a spiritual and inspirational film adaptation of the book by Rick Bieber (who would write and direct the film).

In 2006, the Abbate family, a Christian family were living their lives normally.

Steven Abbate (played by Aidan Quinn) and wife Maryanne (played by Andie MacDowell) are parents of four children.  Their oldest, Jon is a linebacker at Wake Forest University and their youngest son Luke (played by Stefan Guy) was a lacrosse and football player at his high school.

It was a normal day as Maryanne took her son to school and Steven brought his son’s jersey to him at school, when Luke forgot to take it with him.

But one day, Luke decided to ride with his friends after being pressured to and that day, the driver was driving recklessly through traffic and while the teens who were upset about their friend’s driving unbuckled their seatbelts in hopes of getting out of the car, the driver lost control and then wrecked his vehicle.

While the other teenagers lived, Luke suffered irreparable brain damage.  Because Luke wanted to donate his organs after getting his driver’s license, the family complied and in the process, his organs went to save five people.

But the film shows how a family member’s death can affect the family.

For his older brother Jon, a star linebacker at Wake Forest University, Jon has stopped showing up to football practice and his classes.  His father has been dealing with his stress by overwork and his mother has not been the same since.  The family has been suffering, despite being a strong Christian family, their lives were shattered after Luke’s death.

While the film focuses on the family’s adversity during a tragedy, “The 5th Quarter” focuses on Jon’s return to Wake Forest, wearing Luke’s #5 jersey and making sure he is playing not just for himself but also for Luke.  And each time he saw his parents watching him from the stands, he would raise his five fingers up during fourth quarter.  His teammates would follow and then the Wake Forest Demon Deacons fans would copy with the players were doing and raise their five fingers up in support of the team.

The film would feature the Abbate family’s journey from their pain to healing and also showcase Wake Forest University’s miracle season featuring an inspired Jon Abbate as he and his teammates would try to win the 2006 ACC Championship.


“The 5th Quarter” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  It’s important to note that the film is presented with various video sources.  For the majority of the film, “The 5th Quarter” looks good when featuring the shots made for the film.  There is a good amount of grain and also some detail.  But it’s not a film where one can say the film completely has great picture quality because it incorporates a lot of video sources from archived Wake Forest University football matches.

So, while the first half of the film looks very good, the second half is where you see a lot of the football archived footage showcasing the rise of the Wake Forest football team when it was pegged to be the last place team of their conference.  And for some people, archived football footage may not be for them.  But for me, as a football fan and having watched many archived football footage on the NFL channel from the past 50-years, if you love football, the camaraderie of the sport and the excitement on the field and on the stands, it’s those footage that Rick Beiber tries to capture in the film.

It’s not perfect but he did manage to capture the team’s winning season in the film using that footage and while it worked for me, the inconsistency of the picture quality for the film may not work for everyone.


“The 5th Quarter” is presented in English 5.1 DT-HD Master Audio.  The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film with a lot of music, so it’s front and center-channel driven which is expected from a film like “The 5th Quarter”.  You do hear crowd ambiance through the surround channels, especially during a helicopter scene when Luke’s body is being airlifted to the hospital.  But outside of that, the film is dialogue driven and dialogue is crystal clear.

For the most part, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate and for a lower budget film, I was not expecting an immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.


“The 5th Quarter” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Making of the 5th Quarter -(6:08) Interviews with the director Rick Beiber, the cast of the film and also the Abbate family and the making of “The 5th Quarter”.

“The 5th Quarter” is a spiritual, emotional and inspirational film that will touch but also break your heart.  It’s a film that will make you cry and for the most part, it’s a touching football film that is a Christian film but doesn’t force it down anyone’s throat.

It’s a film that is similar to another tragic football film “We Are Marshall” but instead focuses on one football player and his family facing adversity during their darkest time.

But most importantly, how these individuals made it out of the dark after their lives were shattered by the sudden death of their beloved young son.

And this is a film in which both the real Steven and Maryanne Abbate were involved in and as difficult as their story is, it’s also a film that brings attention to the importance of organ donation but how people can move on from suffering after a loved one’s death.  It’s not an easy process and its a hurt that remains with you for the rest of your life but it’s a film that also shows how a community and how a university was very supportive to the family during their darkest days.

The family went on to form a foundation after Luke to increase awareness of organ donation but also the dangers of reckless driving and the film helps carry the message and gives a voice of the Abbate family and hoping the message reaches other people who watch the film.

I know there are film critics who are going to hate on this film.  One because it is a spiritual film and two, it is a film that focuses on a message and it’s not exactly a big budget film with a storyline that focuses all on a death of a child and a family that wants justice.  It’s not that type of film.

This is not a film that chooses to become anything artistic, nor is it a film that was meant to show what happened to the family members after Wake Forest University won the championship.  It’s a spiritual film that carries on the message of the Abbate family and there will be people who are touched by the film and its message while others who are hoping to have a deep film along the lines of “We are Marshall” being disappointed.

The film’s first half focuses on the death of Luke and how the family members deal with it but the second half of the film is about Jon Abbate playing at Wake Forrest University and how the team faced adversity after being touted as the team to be in last place.   Sure, the film uses archived video during the time Jon did play at Wake Forest  and yes, actor Ryan Merriman (“Final Destination 3”, “The Ring Two”) may not have the same body type compared to the real life Jon when you watch the archived football footage.

Sure there is a lot of archived Wake Forest University football footage from 2006 featured throughout the second half of the film and this is not a big-budget Hollywood film that could re-enact a lot of those football moments throughout the various seasons.  If anything, why did the second half focus on the football game versus the family?  It’s because those games and team’s winning season, was what gave the family that peace of mind during their darkest time of their lives.

For the Abbate family, seeing their older son Jon in a historic season for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons was a big thing for the family and the university was also very supportive towards the family.  Seeing him raise his five fingers to honor his brother was one thing, but then to see the team and then suddenly everyone in the bleachers doing the same, that probably was a bit support for the family.

Yes, there are unexplored storylines with characters such as the middle brother, Jon’s girlfriend, Jon’s good friend who helped bring him back home for training.  For me, these characters were good for the support to Jon and his family.  For me, It didn’t matter in the storyline to focus on those moments.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt wrote, “But hospital scenes, then funeral and lengthy testimonials mean little to an audience that doesn’t know the deceased.”

While I can understand where Honeycutt is coming from towards his evaluation of the film, at the same time, when it comes to films that deal a lot with spirituality and faith….and yes, I mean Christian films, these films are created differently from normal theatrical films.  The same can be said with Christian music and commercial music.  They may share similarities but Christian music is about the message.

“The 5th Quarter” is a film with a message.

So, as I can understand where Mr. Honeycutt and also  a few other people would make comments towards those scenes, those scenes are where the family’s show their faith in God.  It’s not driven down anyone’s throat nor is made to preach that one should follow a certain religion but it does show how even the most spiritual families can also be shattered by tragedy and it takes time to heal.

A month ago, there was another inspirational/spiritual (and much bigger budget) film titled “Soul Surfer” in how the family held things together because of their faith after their daughter lost her arm to a shark.  Those scenes shown in that film with the church group and the family’s dedication to their faith may not mean much to one who doesn’t share the same feeling towards faith, and for “The Fifth Quarter”, the funeral and testimonials, especially the hospital scenes made the film and the pain that the family and friends went through, seem so real.

But for those who are able to watch and understand the message of the film, if that message can save many lives…then the goal of the Abbate family and possibly also Rick Bieber made this film successful.  Also, a great emotional performance by Aidan Quinn (“Benny & Joon”, “Legends of the Fall”, “Unknown”) and Andie MacDowell (“Groundhog Day”, “Short Cuts”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”).

As for the Blu-ray release, you get a short featurette featuring “The Making of the 5th Quarter”.  It would be nice to have an audio commentary track or even give the family a short featurette to promote their foundation created in the memory for Luke.

The picture quality of course varies between the actual film and archived football footage but for the most part, I do believe that this is a film that many families can watch and be moved by it.  Those who have lost a young family member can possibly be inspired by it.  Because for the family, the pain still resides…these are not perfect people.   And they show that even having strong faith, it’s hard for families to go on after a tragic incident but the fact is, through time, people will heal, through the support of friends and family but if anything… time.

“The 5th Quarter” may not be for everyone, nor is it a perfect film but for an independent, spiritual and inspirational film with a lot of football incorporated to the film, I enjoyed it.  I was moved by it.  And yes, as a father… I found myself crying as well.

I recommend this film and this Blu-ray release!

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