Are you ready for some football? I’m not. That’s why I need a movie marathon of football films to remind myself what the game is all about—hits, cursing, colorful field patterns, and H2O. Let’s look at a list of five popular classics that actually stink and replace them with five of my favorite pigskin pictures.
Popular Classic: Any Given Sunday, 1999, Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday stars Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino, Lawrence Taylor, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine, Aaron Eckhart, Bill Bellamy, and some other people. My question: who the f*** cast this? My other question: why is it so long? It’s as long as an actual football game, and the only perk to watching a football movie over an actual game is because theoretically it should end sooner. Al Pacino gives a big roaring speech, but he just isn’t a football coach. A serpico maybe, but not a football coach. No football coach wears a suit like the one above to a game. That’s a little too casual, coach, a little unprofessional.
Jules @ TMB Classic: The Replacements, 2000, Howard Deutch
Now, Gene Hackman is a football coach! Look at that suit! It’s Lombardi-esque. The way Hackman and Keanu Reeves work together in The Replacements, a movie about a group of has been’s and never will be’s getting a second chance to take the football field as scabs during a strike year, is pure sports gold. It gets to the gooey center of the Coach-QB relationship. Deep down, these guys love each other, and deeper down I feel like naming my future kid Falco. I can’t lie: The Replacements is hit-or-miss, and it hits like a weak baby. But it’s the kind of movie you find halfway through on a Saturday afternoon on Comedy Central, and you don’t turn it off even though all the good jokes are over. If that’s not a classic, what is?
Popular Classic: The Blind Side, 2009, John Lee Hancock
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for it, Michael Oehr’s life is the inspiration for it, and many people probably cried while watching it, it’s a steaming pile of hugs, it’s The Blind Side! The heartwarming true story of a poor, homeless, humungous young black man being taken in by a small white woman with her own house is one of the most aggressive Oscar Grabs in recent memory, and Bullock grabbed that thing with both hands. Unfortunately, Oehr swears the movie did him more harm than good, and Bullock, winning in a weak field, beat out Gabourey Sidibe, the star of Precious, which is only one of the craziest movies ever made. I boo Bullock for stealing an award away from Precious, and I boo The Blind Side for making me boo hoo over football. There’s no crying in baseball! But I guess there is in football.
Jules @ TMB Classic: The Waterboy, 1998, Frank Coraci
Talk about an inspirational story. Adam Sandler plays a stuttering, psychotic, water chugging mama’s boy, and somehow it isn’t his own biopic. Sandler has made many movies we wish didn’t exist, but The Waterboy is a perfect combination for those who dug early Sandler–basically everyone, amirite?! There’s a great scene with Henry Winkler in a pair of pumps, Kathy Bates has been hot to me ever since Primary Colors, and the waterboy’s screech still gets me, even today, when I am old enough to accept just how dumb and annoying it is. #Ilovedumbandannoyingstuff.
Popular Classic: Remember the Titans, 2000, Boaz Yakin
What better way to sand off the edges of the desegregation of a Virginian high school in 1972 than to Disney-fy it, slap Denzel Washington in there, and make it all about football? Yeehah! Or what noise do Virginians make? Charge! Yes, Remember the Titans is a real doozy of a humdinger. A young Ryan Gosling, Wood Harris, Ethan Suplee, and a very young Hayden Panettiere help make this painful tale of civil rights into a cute little thang. I know it’s impossible to not enjoy Remember the Titans. It’s heart is in the right place, and there’s a ton of Motown and a little Cat Stevens to get us singing along. This thing just gets the crowd into it. That’s the football spirit. But there’s something unfulfilling about the Disney effect casting its spell on such a sticky subject.
Jules @ TMB Classic: Friday Night Lights, 2004, Peter Berg
Billy Bob Thornton as a head coach. Need I say more? Friday Night Lights was so good it spawned a television show. That puts it on hallowed ground alongside Varsity Blues, Clueless, and Wet Hot American Summer, to name a few movie-to-tv productions. It’s a bitter take on the excesses of high school football in Texas, based on a true story that digs its cleats into the dirt. Football is a serious game. People get really into it. And people get seriously injured. It’s messed up. Sure we all love a good touchdown, and who doesn’t love a big sack? But I’d love it even more if people got a little less fanatical over a game of inches.
Popular Classic: Jerry Maguire, 1996, Cameron Crowe
You know what Jerry Maguire is really about? It’s not romance. It’s not someone completing someone else. It’s about money. “Show me the money.” Tom Cruise plays one of the biggest shit positions in all of sports–an agent–and somehow makes him likable. Tom Cruise charms his way into our hearts with every character he plays, and yet it is Jerry Maguire that I care for the least. No amount of Bonnie Hunt is going to change my mind. Cuba Gooding Jr. got an Oscar for this, and you know what? I never really cared. I’m feeling mean right now. Real mean. Lipnicki sucks. Renée Zellweger can do better. Jay Mohr had a right to fire Jerry Maguire. He never had me, not at “hello,” not ever.
Jules @ TMB Classic: Horse Feathers, 1932, Norman Z. McLeod
The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football. The Marx Brothers playing football…
Popular Classic: Rudy, 1993, David Anspaugh
“Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!” Dude, Rudy gets the shaft in Rudy. No one should have to work this hard to get in for one play. The guy is good at football. So what if he’s Sean Astin? The ultimate underdog story is a crock of condescending kaka. You watch this guy go all out, and he gets to tackle someone once. Big whoop. Rudy is one long rah-rah for a total loser. He’s a live action “Little Engine That Could.” I tired of that book by high school.
Jules @ TMB Classic: Big Fan, 2009, Robert D. Siegel
Now this is the real life Rudy. Patton Oswalt stars as a diehard Giants fan who ends up getting punched out by his favorite Giants player, and then sees the star get suspended from the team because of the incident. If you know any football fans, then you can guess who they get mad at. This is such a sad, dark sports movie, but it is one of the few sports movies I know that focuses on the fans, the true fans, the ones who give everything they have to their team—money, passion, time. What do footballs fans get besides being allowed to high five over someone else’s accomplishment, buying a twenty dollar hot dog, and getting schnokered in a parking lot before each game? Without the fans, football would be nowhere–sports would be nowhere. Big Fan is a sucker punch to everything sports films stand for, and it is Patton Oswalt’s magnum opus. Plus I’m a big Giants fan—Go Blue!
Did I forget any? Wondering where either of the Longest Yards are? Know every word to Brian’s Song? A big believer in Heaven Can Wait? Let us know in the comment thread which football movies you’ll be watching in preparation for the season, and give me hell for trashing your favorites, or gimme ten on the flip side for totally nailing it.