They always call baseball “The Number #1 Pastime.” Although a lot of people would disagree, there are a number of them and one of them is watching sports. Now take a passtime, for example, like watching a good movie and it just happens to be a story about a sport someone would like. With March Madness coming and the Oscars just behind us, the Toddster thought it would be a good idea to assemble my secret crew of top notch Patrollers and have them share with us a favorite Sports movie of theirs. Batter up!!
“Jerry Maguire” 1996
In looking for a favorite sports-themed movie, I again go back to a time when Tom Cruise was still tolerable. This time, it’s 1996 in Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire.”
Sometimes everything comes together to make a perfect little gem of a movie. Actors, chemistry, comedy, drama, romance, soundtrack and even catchphrases (although I quickly grew tired of “Show me the money!” and Cuba Gooding Jr., for that matter), and “Jerry Maguire” has it all in spades.
Cruise is brilliant as the titular sports agent, whose moral epiphany leads to his downfall and later resurgence in the cutthroat world of professional athletics. Along the way, Jerry meets charming single mom Dorothy Boyd (the luminous Renee Zellweger) and falls in love with her and her precocious son, Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki, perhaps one of Hollywood’s cutest child actors ever, and purveyor of such important information as the weight of a human head).
Jerry messes up his new-found idyllic life, of course, and is tempted by his former errant ways. Like all good romantic comedies, “Jerry Maguire” is all about the journey of self-discovery. When Jerry finally makes his way back to Dorothy, his heart on his sleeve and uttering his now classic “You complete me” line (back then, it wasn’t as cheesy), I guarantee there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
I’ll admit that the sports connection is a tad tenuous, but there are some great supporting performances from fellow agents Kelly Preston and Jay Mohr, and even Jerry O’Connell has a memorable turn as a dumb jock. Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell? He was cool for the 15 minutes of fame this movie brought him, I suppose, but I much prefer Regina King as his eye-rolling wife, Marcee.
Every time I hear Springsteen’s haunting “Secret Garden,” I can’t help but think of this romantic opposites attract tale. Indeed, Jerry, you had me at hello.
“Remember the Titans” 2000
Director Boaz Yakin’s “Remember the Titans” is an emotional and entertaining movie, based loosely on true events in 1971, a time when segregation was still a major issue in the country, and it ranks right up there as one of my all-time favorite sports flicks.
Tempers flare when Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is hired as head football coach at T.C. Williams High School, replacing the popular Bill Yoast (Will Patton) in the process. Throughout the film, Boone, joined by Yoast in an assistant coach role, struggles to teach his players to work together as a team, stressing that color has no impact on his decisions. According to Boone, the best players will play, regardless of race.
What begins as hatred between players of different color gradually transforms into respect, and in the end becomes friendship. The relationship between players Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) and Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) is a prime example of this, and an entertaining sub-plot in and of itself.
Washington’s performance is par for him, meaning great, and the supporting cast is also exceptionally good, particularly the stirring team speech given at the Civil War battleground of Gettysburg.
Filled with a nice blend of humor and emotion, and historically relevant as it concerns the issues of racism and tolerance, this is a great movie which portrays a powerful and important message.
Everyone loves an underdog, and was there a better underdog sports story than “Rocky?”
Rocky Balboa (played by Sly Stallone) is a low-level club fighter with no real future in boxing, who gets the opportunity of a lifetime. When world boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) needs an opponent on New Year’s Day in Philadelphia to celebrate the Bicentennial, Creed literally pulls Balboa’s name out of a boxing registry. Creed is drawn to this pugilist’s nickname, “The Italian Stallion.” Plus, Balboa is a native son of Philly.
The match is made, and Creed, seemingly unbeatable, has all the confidence in the world, as he rightly should. Meanwhile Balboa was not long removed from losing his shabby locker at the local gym. Told earlier in the movie that he should hang up his gloves and retire by the gym’s owner Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), Mickey sheepishly comes to Rocky with the offer to train the oafish, unorthodox Balboa for his big shot.
Balboa’s unorthodox training consists of chasing down chickens, pounding on carcasses of beef at a meat packing plant where friend Paulie works, and logging early-morning hours running in high-top Chuck Taylor basketball sneakers. Steadily, Philly’s native son builds a local following as he faces the ultimate challenge.
Creed’s trainer takes notice of the upcoming opponent, while Creed, too busy with the business side of boxing, completely disregards the overmatched Balboa, and takes his training lightly.
Along the way, Balboa develops a romance with Paulie’s shy sister Adrian (Talia Shire), and confides to Adrian before the big fight that he doesn’t expect to win, but, as a measure of pride, wants to be the first person to ever go the distance with the champ.
What ensues is an epic battle as the unprepared Creed is battered like never before, and flattened with an out-from-left-field haymaker in the opening round. The two battle toe-to-toe for 15 epic rounds with Creed eking out a close decision.
Badly bruised and bloody, Rocky tunes out the post-fight mayhem in the ring and the media clamoring for an interview. He seeks out Adrian in the crowd, and they proclaim their love for one another.
Even though he lost, Rocky was a huge winner, and the mainstream movie media thought so too. Stallone’s masterpiece won three Oscars in 1976 including best picture, and spawned a franchise of five sequels.
"The Cutting Edge" (1992)
Even though I’m not much of a sports fan, I tend to love movies that center around sports. Probably for the same reason that I always root for the underdog. Watching someone overcome adversity and come from behind to succeed – particularly sweaty, hunky male athletes – just strikes a chord with me.
Now put that hunky male athlete on skates, team him up with a spoiled ice princess and wrap it all up with a big Olympic bow and you’ve got one of my all time favorite movies: “The Cutting Edge.”
Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (you may know him as Starsky), this 1992 romantic comedy stars Moira Kelly as Kate Mosley, a blue-blooded figure skater with such a reputation for being such a prima donna that her coach has to resort to pairing her up with a washed-up blue-collar hockey player named Doug Dorsey, played by D.B. Sweeney.
A former-Olympic athlete himself, Dorsey was sidelined by an eye injury which dashed his hopes of a professional career. He accepts the challenge, knowing its his last chance of glory.
He doesn’t anticipate the icy cold shoulder he gets from Mosley, who has the ice princess routine down to a science. Gradually, however, they come together as a team. His strength as a skater, coupled with her poise and perfectionism, propel them into Olympic contention.
And, of course, they fall in love in the process. *Sigh*
Sports movies always have something special for everyone with someone trying their best to deal with what they can and through trial and tribulation win at the end. I love to watch these really great underdog movies. My favorite Sports movie has all this and a lot of laughs too. Meet Danny Noonan (Michael O’ Keefe). Danny is at that age where he’s not quite sure what he wants to do with his life. He also works part time at an upscale country club trying to impress the owner Judge Smails (Ted Knight) who has a scholarship to give away and Danny will do anything and everything to get it.
Along the way we meet a lot of colorful characters including an almost over the hill golf bum played by the brilliant Chevy Chase, a rich millionaire who thinks he knows how to play golf handled very well by Rodney Dangerfield, and an crazy groundskeeper who’s trying to kill a little gopher (who sounds a awful lot like Flipper) that could only be played by Bill Murray. The movie even has a moral message or two such as “Be the Ball.” (Whatever that means) Co-written and directed by Harold Ramis (Stripes and Ghostbusters), he was able to put together a fun comedy with a great cast where the laughs kept coming. Most of us have to try and find a way to make the World work for us but no one says we can’t have fun while we’re doing it even when Sports are a part of our lives.
Sports are a great way that gives a lot of people meaning and some hope that with hard work and determination that anything is possible. Each of these movies shown here are examples of that that run with different types of emotions or feelings and they each can be found on DVD in stores now. Back to business for next week. The Toddster shall return.