ESPN Documentary The U Premieres at Lyric Theater in Overtown

By Francisco Alvarado
Former Hurricanes mascot John Routh and ex-running back Melvin Bratton pose with Vinny Testaverde's Heisman Trophy
Click here to view photos from this event.

Last night, Rakontur debuted an extended version of its upcoming ESPN documentary The U inside Overtown's historic Lyric Theater

Among the local celebrities in attendance were former University of Miami football players Melvin Bratton, brothers Brian and Bennie Blades, Kelvin Harris, and Randall Hill, as well as music producer and rapper Luther Campbell, who got a special shout-out from filmmaker Billy Corben for writing the theme song to the documentary.

As expected, The U was a hyperkinetic reel composed of interviews and archival footage documenting the rise and fall of college football's most successful and most hated program. But just about everybody in the audience had nothing but love for the Canes, so the seemingly endless clips of players gyrating and taunting opponents drew cheers and applause.

There were plenty of comical moments in the film. For example, The U opens with the pre-Howard Schnellenberger era. Bennie Blades, one of the dominant voices in the doc, explains how UM had a deal with Burger King to give away free game tickets with the purchase of a Whopper. But because his family didn't have enough money to buy Whoppers, Blades never got any free tickets.

Corben added 14 minutes of footage that will not air on the ESPN version, and that's a good thing. It ran a little long at 1 hour 55 minutes. And once end credits roll, The U comes off a bit slanted toward defending the Hurricanes' outlaw image. But then again, Corben and the Rakontur crew are UM alumni and revel in the team's past shenanigans.

The montage of the Orange Bowl being torn down made Banana Republican misty-eyed. But just for a few seconds.

Overall, Rakontur succeeded in capturing how the players' swagger was a testament to the city they represented on the field. Love them or hate them, the Miami Hurricanes are what 305 football is all about.

Check out New Times videographer Jacob Katel's video of last night's premiere, including funny interviews with Uncle Luke and ex-wide reciever Brian Blades, as well as exclusive footage of Corben preparing for his opening remarks:

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