Tuesday, March 22, 2022

movie monday football

Fun fact... I actually wrote this article in 2013... I've been looking over my 30+ drafts that I've written off and on, some totally complete, one or two being completed parts of a series that is unfinished, and some half done. I even have a pointed piece about the kid who caught flack for smirk smiling at a fake protester on the steps of the Capitol -- I'll probably hold onto that one. 

But either way, here is a post about my favorite football movies... I added a few lines and did some grammar correction, but otherwise, here ya go... 

For our inaugural Movie Monday.... since football season is winding down, at least college wise, I thought I'd celebrate America's true pastime with my favorite five football centric films...

5... "The Replacements" (2000)
When pro football teams all go on strike, replacement players are used, including on the Washington Sentinals, where their star QB takes a slide instead of scoring a game winning TD so he wouldn't be hurt.  Enter Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), who, together with his grizzled coach, Gene Hackman, and a wacky cast of teammates played by Faizon Love, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau and Rhys Ifans, have to win three of the final four games of the season to make the playoffs.

Sure, its silly.  And goofy.  And its so much fun.  And the incredibly cute Brooke Langton is Annabelle, Shane's love interest... this movie is also known for its great line, "Pain heals. Chicks dig scars.  Glory?  Lasts forever."

What happened to Brooke Langton?  She's 50, she's still working, and still beautiful. 

4... "Remember the Titans" (2000)
Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is hired on to coach a racially divided Williams High School, taking the reins from Coach Yoast (Will Patton), who stays on as an assistant.  Set in 1971, the school is awash in racial prejudice, as Coach Boone is told that if he loses a single game, he's fired.  

The movie, sometimes being a little sappy and predictable, is solid, fun and weaves a great story.  The cast is also stellar, with Ryan Hurst and Wood Harris as the main white and black dudes on the team who (naturally) find a way to come together, with supporting roles by Kip Pardue as the surfer QB, Ethan Suplee as the token fat guy, Donald Faison as a RB named Petey and a young Hayden Panettiere as Coast Yoast's daughter.  Oh yeah, Ryan Gosling is in this too. 

Fun fact... of course, as most films based on a true story will go, this one plays a little fast and loose with the truth -- turns out, by many accounts Coach Boone was quite the jackwagon in real life -- and lot of the racial tension drummed up in the movie was really just drummed up for the movie. Alas, Hollywood.   

3... "The Waterboy" (1998)
What a stupid film.  It just is.  And I love it.  Do I really need to tell you the plot?  Adam Sandler is Bobby Boucher, a Cajun in Louisiana who is recruit by Mr Coach Klien (Henry Winkler in this don't-take-myself-so-serious phase) to play football for the terrible South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs, after being rejected by the U of Louisiana Cougars... and of course, it all climaxes in... The Bourbon Bowl.  Of course it does.

You know the lines... "been playing the foosball behind mama's back!?" and "water sucks! it really really sucks!" and "I saw Vicky Vallencourt's boobies and I liked them too!"... love this movie.

2... "Necessary Roughness" (2001)
If you are sensing a trend here, of me liking bad football comedies, you are right.  And this one is the best of the comedic bunch.  Scott Bakula!  Sinbad!  Robert Loggia!  Larry Miller!  Harley Jane Kozak! 

Yeah, you probably know those names, and you definitely know the faces...  The football season approaches for the Texas State Fightin' Armadillos, but with most of the previous players suspended and coaching staff fired due to NCAA sanctions (the accusations here are very similar to the real life charges against Southern Methodist University, which was handed the "death penalty" in 1987--more on this later).

Enter Coach Ed Gennero (Hector Elizondo) and his assistant coach Wally (Robert Loggia), who are forced to not only deal with the NCAA restrictions, but also the ones placed on the team by the mean Dean Elias (a wonderfully smarmy Larry Miller)... Dean Miller has left Coach with only 17 players allowed on the team, forcing them most players to play offense and defense, hence, "ironman" football.
The quarterback?  A 34 year old former high school star named Paul Blake (Bakula) who never attended college and has eligibility, who also convinces a TA named Andre (Sinbad), who also has a year left, to play.

And the movie takes off from there, with supporting roles from Jason Batemen, and Kathy Ireland as a the soccer star turned female placekicker (Kathy, I've always loved you from when I was a teenager... but acting is not your forte)... Harley Jane Kozak as a professor, who becomes Paul's love interest and continues to spurn the advances of Dean Miller,  thereby fueling the Dean's hatred of the team.... Rob Schneider, before he got too ridiculous in movies, as announcer Chuck Neiderman and finally, the university president, played by former US presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson.

I love this movie and watch it every time its on, no matter where I catch the film.  Its funny, predictable and a little (a lot) ridiculous, but its so much fun.

Trivia... Texas State wasn't a real university until 2003, when the real life Southwest Texas State University shortened its name to Texas State, with the mascot the Bobcats.  In the movie, the first opponent that the fictional Texas State Fightin' Armadillos plays is the Southwest Texas State U Bobcats.  Irony.

1... "The Blind Side" (2009)
There are some who would say this film is sappy.  There are some who would say this film is made to directly pull on your heart strings.  There are some who would say that it took a little section of a mighty fine book and made an entire movie about that one section.  And they would all be right.

That doesnt change the fact that I am in love with this movie.  I love everything about this film, from the cast--Sandra Bullock in her Oscar winning role... newcomer Quinton Aaron as the lead character of Michael Oher... Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy... Kathy Bates as tutor Miss Sue... young Jae Head as the youngest son SJ, who has some of the best lines... and of course, the good-lookin' Lily Collins as, conveniently enough, Collins Tuohy, the daughter of Leighe Ann and Sean.

You perhaps know the story, as the Tuohy's, a well to do family in Memphis, TN, ends up not only befriending but becoming the caretakers of Michael Oher, who has been shuffled around from foster home to foster home, running away each time to return to his drug addicted mother. 

The movie then chronicles Michael's story, as everyone discovers how he's been lost in the education system and how he's helped, loved and redeemed by the power of one family loving on a stranger who becomes their friend... then son.  In addition to circumstance, the other foes in the movie are an NCAA investigator who come around, questioning the Tuohy's care for Michael when he chooses what school he'll go to, and gangsta's from the Michael's old neighborhood.

How much do I love this film?  Its currently my 53rd favorite film of all time, has a total re-watchability factor (like "Necessary Roughness", I can pick this movie up anywhere and watch it to completion) and is based on a book that is also extremely awesome.

Honorable Mentions:
"Rudy" (1993) - Like it.  Don't love it, not nearly as much as everyone around me does.

"Jerry Maguire" (1996) - Considered putting this on the list, and it would have ranked #1 if I had--its my 35th favorite film of all time--but to me, this is not necessarily a football movie, not like the ones listed above.  Football plays a part, but its a football agent story.

"The Longest Yard" (1974) - The original with Burt Reynolds, not that travesty made a few years ago with Adam Sandler.

"Varsity Blues" (1999) - I only list this here because I've rewatched it recently.  It holds up, if only for the great cast--Scott Caan, Ali Larter (besides the whipped cream, I mean), Amy Smart (underrated as an actress) and of course, the late, great Paul Walker.

"The Last Boy Scout" (1991) - Like Jerry Maguire, football plays a part of the story, but is not the story.  But I do love me some Last Boy Scout, so I had to mention it.

"Quarterback Princess" (1983) - A made for TV movie with a very young Helen Hunt, a female who quarterbacks a high school team.  This used to come on cable all the time when I was a kid, and I watched it at least a dozen times.

Worth noting...

There are a couple of football documentaries that must be mentioned, including "Pony Exce$$" (2011), a film that takes on the SMU scandal as I mentioned above... "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL" (2009), following the rise and fall of the 1980s USFL, including an interview with who the movie suggests might be the culprit--Donald Trump... and "Undefeated" (2011), the story of the 2009 high school team seeking its first playoff win ever...

(ps... I've never seen "Brian's Song")

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