by Aaron Peck
We're only a couple weeks into the football season. In order to celebrate the return of the gridiron and possibly take our minds off of the atrocious replacement NFL officials, here's a rundown of some great (and not so great) football movies.
Football is a spirited game of crashing bodies, underdog stories, and devastating concussions. In other words, it's one of the most cinematic sports out there. The action scenes of football players smashing into one another, flying end over end, and stretching for that winning touchdowns, almost write themselves. There's little wonder there are so many quality football movies out there. Lets tackle the best of the bunch, broken down into cleverly titles sub-categories...
Hey, Are Those Tears On Your Facemask?
If you enjoyed Sandra Bullock's most over-the-top performance ever (yes, I'm counting the 'Miss Congeniality' movies), this is probably what you should be watching before the big game. Let's face it, the real reason you picked 'The Blind Side' is you wanted to watch a football-themed movie and this was the only way your wife was going to put up with that nonsense.
The Marshall University football team is killed in a plane crash. I mean, how can you not get choked up about that storyline without knowing anything else about the movie? Let's forget for a second that McG directed this. What makes 'We Are Marshall' an entertaining movie is that it's a sports movie that doesn't end with winning the big game or attaining an unattainable championship. Here we see how football can bring together a community.
Is there a more iconic football film out there? Even people who know absolutely nothing about football remember the final scene in 'Rudy' where Sean Astin is hoisted upon his teammate's shoulders as the crowd chants his name. Everyone loves a long-shot underdog story and 'Rudy' is the premiere film in that category.
'Brian's Song' (1971)
Get any of the roughest, toughest football fans out there. Round them up, and put them in a room. Make them watch 'Brian's Song' together. I guarantee when you open up the door they'll stream out of there blubbering like babies. It's about football and about overcoming discrimination. It's hard to remember that this was a made-for-TV movie. Every football-viewing man cave out there should be required to frame a picture of Billy Dee Williams clasping James Caan's hand in the hospital. It's an iconic scene which gets me all choked up just thinking about it.
It's a little bit of everything. Some 'Blind Side,' a dash of 'Rudy,' a helping of 'Brian's Song' and a great Denzel-y performance from the one and only Denzel Washington. Washington almost single-handedly crushes racism in this movie.
The gridiron isn't all emotional and sentimental. It's got a comic side too. Granted, not many of the football-related comedies are what you'd call "good," but they're out there so we have a duty to remind you about them.
At times I thought it was supposed to be 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' on the field and other times I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be. Sure, George Clooney is always fun to watch, but as the old-timey football story devolves into a love story featuring Renee Zellweger, it becomes a bit hdifficult to stay awake, much less excited.
I have a few words for The Rock. "You'll do just about anything as long as they let you use your eyebrow trick every 10 minutes, won't you? It doesn't matter if your gargantuan frame is crammed into a tutu as you prance around on stage making adolescents laugh. You're simply game for anything a terrible Disney comedy can throw at you." This makes me realize that I want a football-centric movie starring The Rock as the meanest, nastiest linebacker to ever play the game. Isn't that a great idea for a movie. Maybe whenever we get a Ray Lewis biopic The Rock can take up the role.
This storyline strikes close to home since the beginning of the 2012 NFL season started out with replacement referees while the real referees are on strike. In 'The Replacement' the players get replaced by scabs, one of which is Keanu Reeves doing his best Keanu Reeves impression.
Remember when Adam Sandler made somewhat funny movies? I'm not saying that 'Waterboy' is one of the best comedies out there (I've addressed this one before), but at least it had some memorable lines. Sandler movies nowadays consist of 90 minutes of eye torture.
Fourth Quarter, Time to Get Serious
Oliver Stone's star-studded football drama is a divisive movie. People can be divided into two groups: the group that likes to watch Al Pacino spit on football players as he yells at them, and the group that doesn't like to watch Al Pacino spit on football players as he yells at them. Personally, I'm in the first group. Stone's film tries to compact every single football team storyline into one hyper-realistic football-themed movie. It's great.
Early football and civil rights struggles go together perfectly as can be seen in 'The Express' starring Rob Brown as fabled football player Ernie Davis who was on his way to football stardom after a great season at Syracuse, only to be derailed by leukemia.
The quintessential underdog story. Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) was the unlikeliest of heroes, which is exactly how we like our heroes in sports stories. When Vince hears about open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles he actually tries out even though he's a 30-year-old substitute teacher. The rest is some riveting football drama.
This is how I got interested in the NFL in the first place. I'd followed it when I was a kid, but it wasn't until I joined a fantasy football league with some fellow High-Def Digest readers that I got interested in pro football again. That's why, if you're looking for a great fantasy football Blu-ray then you need to get this:
They're about to air season four of this hilariously raunchy FX comedy. It focuses on a group of mean-spirited man-babies who will do anything to win their fantasy football league and own bragging rights until the next season. It's not a movie, but it's a great show for football fans.
What are some of your favorite, or not-so-favorite football movies? Keep in mind this isn't a top ten list or anything. We've just amassed a list of movies you may want to check out as the football season finds its footing. Let us know your suggestions by clicking on the link to the forum below.