Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bad Sports Movies

Everyone has a favorite sports movie. That one that has you on the edge of your seat, cheering for an outcome that you already know in your heart has been predetermined by a script-writer, That one that has you misty-eyed for a bygone, more honorable time, That one that has the abused underdog rising up to conquer all odds and achieve that glory we all hunger for.

Few care to document the far more common product that emanates from tinsel-town: The really bad sports movie.

For every Field of Dreams or The Natural there is are dozen’s of Major League II’s.

For every Slapshot there is a flood of Youngblood’s

For every The Longest Yard there is…well, the remake of The Longest yard.

You get the point. Even the most open-minded and ambitious practitioner of suspension of disbelief has to admit that 95% of all sports movies ever made range from “hardly likely” to “ambitiously stupid”.

I’d like to review my favorite whipping boys of bad sports movie’s, separated by sport (the ones I have some interest in, sorry golf):

Racing: Days of Thunder:

There was a time I actually followed NASCAR, unfortunately it was also a time when “Stock Car” meant there was something resembling the stock car under the paint and stickers. This movie made sure I never developed that interest again.

See if this sounds familiar:

He’s a loner, a rebel, a maverick. He does things his own way no matter who it irks. She meets him. She can’t stand him- at first- but she learns there’s a good person under the macho fa├žade. Soon she’s worried sick about him as he goes to do whatever dangerous thing he does. He does his dangerous thing, beats all odds and comes back to spring into her waiting arms.

Insert a race car, fighter jet, football or a very angry Jack Nicholson as the backdrop and you have a significant portion of Tom Cruise’s film repertoire.

As a racing film, this baby makes Stroker Ace look like a documentary on Speed channel. Driving into wrecks at full speed, getting “gift” engines from competing owners, having Tom Hagen as you mechanic, this movie has it all. Unfortunately it also has far more than I’m willing to digest.

Hockey: Youngblood:

Whew! Where to begin…

This is the story about a too handsome, too passive, too Rob Lowe junior league hockey player who finally snaps, goes berserk, and becomes the thing he despised the most.

And that’s supposed to be the happy ending.

He unfortunately runs afoul of a noted young goon when he makes the team ahead of him (who is later drafted in the 2nd round by the Maple Leafs, I’m kidding…). The Goon is jealous, angry, and has unsettling visions of having to take his girlfriend to see St. Elmo’s Fire in the future.

Said goon signs up with another team and goes on a premeditated spree of violence, cracking the noggin’ of one Patrick Swayze, Dean Youngblood’s (I’m not making that name up) newest and bestest friend.

Dean makes Craig Janney look like Jay Miller though, and won’t fight the uber-goon, so his dad and older brother (who between them must share 4.5 teeth) teach the talented young doofus how to fight.

There may have been more to the movie but I was trying to retrieve the beer from my two sizes too-big snorkel coat and may have missed some of the finer nuances.

Basketball: Whatever the hell that one with Whoopi Goldberg was.

I’m not much of a Basketball fan, and this movie didn’t help that.

Football: Varsity Blues:

This narrowly beat out the shakily filmed and piercingly shrill Any Given Sunday as the football movie most likely to make me want to take Bruce Dern’s place in Black Sunday, but Varsity Blues wins out on the weight of its incredibly disturbing vision of Texas High-School football.

John Voight, whose career trajectory appears to be rivaling Christian Slater’s, plays the most evil, nasty, vainglorious high-school football coach ever. His player motivational tactics make the coach’s and owners in North Dallas Forty look like extras from a Disney film. He’s just plain rotten.

The fact that he’s the devil incarnate and needlessly risks the lives of their children only make the dim-bulb parents love him more, even though the men remember hating him as well in their playing days (He’s been the coach for over 50 years apparently).

The secondary female lead in the film make Paris Hilton look like she’s found her religious calling, the boys all drive around in near-mint classic cars, and vodka appears to flow from every spigot in this part of Texas.

Oh, and the boys also discover that one of their teachers is also a stripper (apparently Van Halen wrote that into the film).

Eventually the drunken high-school players gather up there courage and STD’s to pull out a miraculous win in the final game’s second half after firing their own coach (huh??!).

Fade out, the End.

Baseball: Major League II:

I saw Major League I about a dozen times, I’ll admit it. It garbage, but it’s good garbage. I place it in the same realm as Escape from New York, The Mummy (1&2), and just about any movie with “The Rock” in it (what can I say, the guy cracks me up).

Even Major League III, while even dumber than the first, provided some slim semblance of enjoyment.

Major League II was somewhat like a peppers and sausage sub burp, not entirely like the original and endangering the shoes of those around you.
A chunk of the original cast was also in II, but that’s like making a Saved by the Bell movie. What else was the cast doing?

Wesley Snipes was noticeably absent, as he had another job requiring him to be a self-loathing, hyper-violent, but “good at heart” Vampire. This was considered a significant step up from his towering portrayal of “Willy Mays Hayes”.

Unfortunately you can go to the same shallow well only so many times, and the well runs dry fairly early as a few kooky new cast members are forced to interact with the almost retired return players.

Godfather II, this ain’t.

As a DVD, it makes a fairly decent drink coaster.

There you have it folks, I’m sure I missed some of your most despised and even offended the sensibilities of those fans that adore the movie’s I’ve trashed. It’s my list. I wrote it. Write your own list.

If you’d like to trash my tastes (usually my wife’s job), here are some favorites from each category:

Racing: LeMans: Steve McQueen. What more do you gotta’ say?

Hockey: Duh. You don’t even need to ask (No, NOT the Mighty Ducks)

Football: The Longest Yard (original): “…I think he broke his f#$%*@! Neck”.

Baseball: Eight Men Out: Think scandal in baseball is a new idea? Think again.

There it is. Black and White.

How hard can it be to be a film critic?

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