If I’m not mistaken, a sporting event of some significance will happen this weekend. I believe it involves football – the American kind, not that soccer crap. As a tie-in, let’s look at some of our favorite movies either about football or at least with notable football scenes.
Although it’s far from a classic – or some could argue even a really good movie – I’ve always been fond of Scott Bakula’s performance in ‘Necessary Roughness‘ (yet another in a long line of Roundtable picks from me that ISN’T on Blu-ray yet!). Bakula stars as Paul Blake, an aging 30-something quarterback who is called back to lead a college team after a scandal causes the loss of all the players’ scholarships, because it’s discovered he still has a year of eligibility left to play football at the school. The cast is filled with the kind you’d expect in this kind of lowbrow comedy (Rob Schneider, Sinbad, and even former supermodel Kathy Ireland as the team’s kicker), but it’s Bakula’s acting that keeps the movie both grounded and memorable. If you’ve never seen this one, it’s worth a look.
I’ve always liked the football scene in Jodie Foster’s ‘Home for the Holidays‘. After a day of awkward interactions and family discomfort, the tension comes out in a family game of football. The cold fingers. Elbows to the nose. The clumsy fight. The head of the family spraying everyone down with a garden hose. The whole scene is embarrassing and all too real. This scene likely plays out in households across the country every Thanksgiving.
I’m not, nor have I ever been, much of a sports fan. I’m also not much of a fan of sports movies. Having said that, I’ve loved one sports film since the first time I saw it. If you know much about me, you already know I’m talking about ‘Jerry Maguire‘.
Having just reviewed the new 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, Cameron Crowe’s classic is currently at the front of my mind. I love how ‘Jerry Maguire’ manages to appeal to both the male and female audience. For sports-loving men, it’s a film about a down-in-the-dumps football agent with a subplot about a girl. For the romantics, it’s a love story about two people with voids in their lives that just-so-happens to have a sports subplot. Honestly, when I think back on it, my mind drifts towards the latter perspective. It’s not until I watch it again that I realize how heavily the film is carried by the sporting aspect.
M. Enois Duarte
Instead of watching the game this weekend (because frankly, I don’t care for the sport), I’m sitting down for ‘The Waterboy‘, one of my favorite football movies. Just thinking back to the days when Adam Sandler actually made pretty good comedies makes me nostalgic for that time when I thought he was funny in the first place. What makes this particular movie fun, much like ‘Happy Gilmore’, is the way it subtly satirizes the sports formula. It does this by exaggerating the underdog aspect of the plot with the most unlikely sports hero imaginable, a meek dude from the bayou who really, really loves his momma. In his journey, he learns about love and finds his independence while turning his hometown team into champions.
Although it’s no longer on Netflix, I still think that the nearly 40-year-old ‘North Dallas Forty‘ is a must-watch for any football fan. There are few other bits of media I’ve found that so effectively illustrate how duplicitous it is to love the mega-business that is the NFL. (See why here.)
That said, I think the old ‘Rollerball’ might come from that same passionate and scary place. (And yet, I hope that Super Bowl LI is worth watching!)
If I have to make a serious choice, I’ll start with Oliver Stone’s ‘Any Given Sunday‘, a very long but mostly interesting examination of American values as seen through the lens of professional sports. It’s not Stone’s best film, and even feels a little impersonal coming from his hands, but it’s well-directed and stacked with a great cast, and has held my attention for nearly three hours on the more than one occasion I’ve watched it. Not many sports movies have managed that.
If I’m being honest, however, the first thing that came to my mind when thinking about football in movies was the scene in the 1980 sci-fi cheesefest ‘Flash Gordon‘ where our dim-witted Earthling hero fights off a horde of goofy aliens from planet Mongo using his ace quarterbacking skills. Flash – ah ahhhhh… He’s a miracle!
I think it’s obvious from our answers that we’re a bunch of nerds on this site, not sports fanatics. Keep that in mind before you deride us in the Comments below for failing to mention ‘Rudy’ or ‘Brian’s Song’ or ‘Remember the Titans’. What are your favorite football movies?