5th Quarter, The Park Entertainment | Starring Ryan
Merriman, Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell
The 5th Quarter is
a faith-based film that portrays the heart-wrenching true story of the Abbate
family. I knew I was in trouble when I practically cried while watching the
trailer, and I was right. Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, I was
This movie depicts young athlete Luke Abbate’s death, how
his family copes with their loss and the touching way they honor him. In
February 2006, 15-year-old Luke was a passenger in a tragic car accident caused
by reckless driving. Luke, the only one with fatal injuries, died two days
later from irreparable brain damage.
The scenes surrounding Luke’s death are some of the most
touching and sincere scenes in the movie, such as the emotional moment when his
parents (Aidan Quinn and Andie MacDowell) made the difficult decision to donate
his organs. His organs are given to five people, including a young mother whose
life is saved with Luke’s heart. Other moving scenes include seeing a hallway
outside his hospital room filled with concerned friends, teachers and coaches
and when Andy’s father rolls his casket out of the church, tears streaming down
After Luke’s older brother Jon (Ryan Merriman) returns to
Wake Forest University, he considers giving up football. In a generic sports
montage, we see his trainer getting him into shape again. “You’ve got to start
living for two. You’ve got to make your brother proud,” Jon’s trainer says to
encourage him. In honor of his brother, Jon adopts Luke’s football number five,
which replaced his longstanding 40.
One of the more poignant scenes of the movie is when Jon
starts a tradition to honor his younger brother at his football games. At the
beginning of the fourth quarter in every game, he looks back at his family
(sitting in section five) and holds up his hand with five fingers outstretched.
As time goes on, the rest of the team repeats this gesture. Eventually everyone
in the stands honors Luke with the signal at the end of the third quarter,
which becomes known as Luke’s quarter, or the fifth quarter.
Although Wake Forest was picked to finish last in the
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) college division in the 2006 season, the Devil
Deacons had the best season in the whole history of Wake Forest that year, and
their coach, Jim Grobe, was honored as the ACC Coach of
the Year. The film did shoot scenes in Wake Forest’s arena, but also used a lot
of footage from that season.
“I could never have recreated those games without using the
actual footage,” said Rick Bieber, the movie’s writer, director and producer.
I had the pleasure of seeing Bieber talk about his latest
project. “All I tried to do was replicate authenticity. I didn’t try to make up
anything,” Bieber said about how he drew the line between fact and fiction when
making this film. “It is what it is … real people dealing with real-life
Also at the screening were Steven and Maryanne Abbate. When
discussing the film, Steven mentioned that they lost their youngest son in
February 2006, and noted that he did not think it was mere coincidence this
movie was released five years later. “I think someone bigger than us is in
charge,” he said.
I got the sense that Bieber did his best to portray the
Abbates’ experience without editorializing. This is a tragic but uplifting
story, and although the film has a few cheesy moments, its message is powerful.
It delivers some intense moments when different family members are shown coping
but it has inspiring moments as well. The football scenes are very encouraging,
and one of the happiest moments comes toward the end. Don’t be discouraged into
not seeing this because of the subject matter. It surprisingly finds a way to
not be completely depressing. This is a touching story, but will leave you
feeling good at the end.
The 5th Quarter releases March 25 in 125 theaters throughout
southeast. Bieber and the Abbates hope it receives enough support this
to roll out nationally. This movie is rated PG-13 for thematic elements.
Some profanity is used when Luke’s family expresses frustration
and sadness over his death. While one parent refuses to cope, the other
out the sorrows with alcohol.
Click here to watch the trailer.