by Scott Tennant
Sports have obviously captured the attention of the general American audience for decades now, so it is only natural that movies about sports would be very popular too. Each year dozens of movies about baseball, football, basketball, boxing, hockey, golf, and more come out to varying degrees of success. Oftentimes real events are so magical that they inspire such movies to be made about them. Some stories are purely fiction around our favorite games. There is a lot of room for both good and bad movies in this realm, so I’m here to cut through the chaff and tell you a few of my favorites.
Honorable Mention: Cool Runnings, He Got Game, Space Jam, The Mighty Ducks 2, League of Their Own
The fact that this movie is even worth watching after it went through development hell is a feat of it’s own, but it actually turned out really well. It’s led by Brad Pitt starring as Billy Beane, the once top baseball prospect turned Oakland Athletics General Manager. Pitt’s Beane is a tortured soul, haunted by his memories as a failed baseball prospect trying something new (alongside his right hand man, played by Jonah Hill). The story of these two turning the tables on the established baseball ideas to succeed with their small budget is compelling and easy to root for. The movie itself is an interesting look at the inner workings of a baseball organization. The movie went through a number of script rewrites in it’s lengthy pre-production stages. Sony put the movie on hold shortly before it was initially supposed to start shooting before another rewrite was needed. The delays paid off though; the script that they ended up with was excellent (written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin) and the lead actors carried a gripping narrative into a very enjoyable movie.
#4: The Fighter
The Fighter is the biographical adaptation of the life of boxer Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg. Ward is a down on his luck boxer with a famly who uses and abuses Micky and his boxing career. His brother, Dicky Eklund (played by Christian Bale) is a former boxer and current drug addict who trains Micky, but also drags him down. Micky’s mother Alice (played by Melissa Leo) is his manager and early in the film puts him in a fight against a boxer a few weight classes up and Micky is pulverized. The only one who seems to be on Micky’s side is Charlene, Micky’s girlfiend (played by Amy Adams) who defends him from his family at every turn. These relationships are complicated and are executed wonderfully by the actors and actresses involved. Bale in particular, who had to lose a significant amount of weight to play the role of Dicky Eklund, is fantastic, and he and his brother’s relationship is probably the most compelling part of the film.
It would be hard to make a list such as this without the classic sports movie Rocky. What is there to say about a film like this? It created the career of Sylvester Stallone, who not only starred, but wrote the script for the movie. It’s a classic tale of underdog boxer training to defeat the overwhelming favorite, in this case Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers. It’s inspiring, it’s fun, it’s well made, and it’s a true classic in every sense of the word.
I’d like to give a shoutout to the Sylvester Stallone for the names of the Rocky Balboa’s opposing boxers throughout the series. Apollo Creed (Rocky, Rocky II), Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T in Rocky III), Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV), and Tommy Gunn (played by boxer Tommy Morrison in Rocky V). Good stuff Sly.
#2 Point Break
Extreme sports are sports too! Plus any list that can include Point Break should, it’s that good. The story is ridiculous and over the top, the action is wild and crazy, but it works for this movie. Patrick Swayze playing Bodhi, the leader of the infamous group of robbers the Ex-Presidents, has a fascinating relationship with Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah, former football star at Ohio State and current young FBI agent. The two have an on screen chemistry that makes the multi-layered relationship fun to watch unfold. Movies like this often can’t successfully hit the right notes to pull off exaggerated story and action like this (see the 2015 remake), but between Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, and Lori Petty, the film has enough fun leads to be an extremely pleasant movie.
#1: Field of Dreams
My favorite sports movie would have to be Field of Dreams. Field of Dreams is truly a sentimental classic, with great performances, classic lines, and one of the coolest, most unique and fantastical stories I have ever seen, especially with subject matter that can be quite formulaic. It’s positive, it’s a joy to watch, and it’s a great story about family, community, and commitment. I have heard that this is a movie that has more appeal to men than women, but I do not know that that is the case; perhaps if you solely examined the father son relationship in the movie you could think that, but I think it’s a good family film for all with a great cast, a great story, and a powerful sense of fairytale. Truly a classic.
That’s all folks! I hope you had a ball reading it! Tune in next week for another list.