As any movie fan will be able to relate to, knowing the lines and scenes from some of their most treasured big screen entertainment is part and parcel of the connection with which they hold.
Now it could be argued that sports movies haven’t always had the greatest of success at the box office. The heart wrenching underdog story that sees the ‘down on their luck’ nobody has an epiphany which leads on a journey to greatness; whilst of course other throwing some tyrannical figures in an epic ‘boss battle’. Or the stereotypical biography which sees creative license eek out the drama and emotion of a team or individuals ascension through personal turmoil.
Now before I drop the bombshell of my top 5 I just want to acknowledge those films that maybe just didn’t make it into the ‘European’ places on my list:
White Men Can’t Jump- great film which has really become a part of basketball culture in the mainstream.
Happy Gilmore- everybody knows about it and everybody loves it.
Water Boy- satirical spin on your typical underdog story with hilarious results.
Space Jam- Michael Jordan’s soiree into the movie industry with some support from a few familiar faces which was a must see for any youngster in the 90’s.
But one point that can’t be argued is that there is always that one sports film that just ends up sticking with you- here’s my top 5 and some clips of my favourite lines:
Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans is a film based on the true story of a High School (American) football team as it struggles to deal with the social tensions between black and white America during the 1970s. A masterful performance of Coach Boone by Denzel Washington is supported by Will Paton, Wood Harris and a very young Hayden Panettiere which really brings to life this heartfelt tale of human spirit. Following the progress of the squad through the trials and tribulations of the season (whilst following the development of some individual characters), the film subtly touches on the problems that society was facing at the time whilst also making it an enjoyable experience which will keep you coming back for more.
Any Given Sunday
Another look at one of America’s most loved sports sees ‘Any Given Sunday’ look at the more “down and dirty” elements of the game, taking a “behind the scenes” look of the running of an NFL team both on and off the field of play. The film follows the Miami Sharks NFL franchise which has seen itself fall from grace in recent years which is parallel by its once renowned coach Tony D’amato (Al Pacino). When the star (yet aging quarter back) is injured and all is looking lost, the coach has to re-evaluate the team and him to get the best out of the squad and refocus their journey to greatness; a strong cast of Cameron Diaz, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx and Denis Quaid mean that this is definitely one for the DVD collection of any sports fan.
A little lesser known title sees a players’ union strike in the NFL meaning that Washington Sentinels are left without a team for the upcoming games. Team owner Edward O’Neill (Jack Warden) hatches a plan to bring in veteran coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) and a squad of replacement players to fill the gap. Lead by Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), the squad embark on the team’s journey to the play offs- in hilarious circumstances. A performance by Orlando Jones, Rhys Ifans and Jon Favreau means you aren’t far off from a laugh at any point. From a having a deaf running back and using a sumo wrestler as a blocker, it’s definitely one worth sticking on the box for a rainy day.
Rocky (I, II, II,IV, V, & Balboa)
Now you could chart the success of the ‘Rocky’ franchise over the span of nearly 40 years it’s been around, with the latest instalment of ‘Creed’ out this year. Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for passing the torch to the next generation but do we really need another ‘Rocky’ title? The first Rocky installment was released in 1976 and obviously people’s opinion means that they favour certain films over others but I’ll just take the series as a whole. Let’s get this out there from the start; Rocky is a great character and the films deal out quite a bit of “cheesiness” with it. The comical villains in Clubber Lang (Mr T) and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) coupled with the love story encapsulating Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Adrian (Talia Shire) are all supported by a talented cast of characters throughout the entire 6 (soon to be 7) movies. But underneath all the high drama of the boxing, are some serious undertones of heartbreak and despair, trials and tribulations. Cementing itself as a part of movie culture it’s one that should find its way on to everybody’s screens at some point- or TiVo box if that tickles your fancy.
No set of sports films would be complete without a mention to the hard knuckled High School basketball coach played emphatically by Samuel L Jackson. Having being confronted by the poor attitudes of the younger generation, Carter sets out to not only improve their physical prowess on the court but also their academic standards as well. A story about aspirations, resilience and endeavour, Jackson’s perception of a heartless task master slowly begins to peel away as he evolves into the father figure of the team. Not only a great watch, but provides you with some fantastic quotes to use for all those budding sports coaches!
Now before the blog turns into North London Riots: Episode II, I just wanted to clarify that even though as a sport’s fanatic I still have quite a hefty ‘Must Watch’ list which includes:
• Raging Bull • Bill Durham • Miracle • Slapshot • Warrior • Hoop Dreams
Let me know your Top 5 in the comment section below!