The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Football Flicks

by Alan Rapp on October 16, 2008

in Essays 

Are you ready for some Football?  With the recent release of football films in theaters and on DVD today we give you some of the best and the worst ever made.  Now anybody can make a list with only the best known football flicks but our eclectic mix of 10 films (plus a few recommendations) includes some you’d expect and a few which might surprise you.  Check out the full list inside.

The Good

Jerry Maguire “You had me at hello.”  Although both writer/director Cameron Crowe and star Tom Cruise have made better films this tale of a sports agent (Cruise) whose new philosophy costs him all but his most difficult client (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is pretty darn good.  Strong supporting performances all around from Renee Zellweger, Kelly Preston, Jay Mohr, Bonnie Hunt, and young Jonathan Lipnicki.  If you like Jerry Maguire you might also try Say Anything… (read that review) and Days of Thunder.

The Last Boy Scout “And then some.”  Yeah, Damon Wayans made the list (how messed up is that?)!  Shane Black‘s script about a cynical detective (Bruce Willis), an ex-football star (Wayans), a dead stripper (Halle Berry), a bastard of a senator (Chelcie Ross), and an unscrupulous football owner (Noble Willingham) is a pretty compelling action flick with a view of football not usually presented in most Hollywood movies.  If you like The Last Boyscout you might also try Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (read that review).  Video NSFW.

Rudy “You’re five foot nothin’, a hundred and nothin’ and you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years”  I had to put one of these inspirational “you can do it” football flicks on the list.  Based on a true story (aren’t they always) Sean Astin stars as a runt of a college walk-on with dreams of playing for Notre Dame.  If you like Rudy you might also try Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall (read that review), and Invincible (read that review).

The Bad

Ace Ventura Pet Detective “Laces out Dan!” Yeah, as a die-hard Dolphins fan there was no real chance of this flick not making the list.  Jim Carrey stars as an animal detective on the search of the stolen Miami Dolphin mascot and kidnapped QB Dan MarinoCourtney Cox and Sean Young also star.  I’d stay away from the sequel but if you like Ace Ventura you might try Dumb & Dumber and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

Gus “Oyage!”  Mired in last place the coach (Don Knotts) of the California Atoms decides to use thier mascot, a mule named Gus, to kick their field goals which sparks a winning streak and a trip to the big game.  Typical crazy live-action Disney buffoonery with heart.  Ed Asner, Tim Conway, Louise Williams, Dick Van Patten, Johnny Unitas, and Dick Butkus also star.  If you like Gus you might try Babe, Charlotte’s Web (read that review), and The Cat from Outer Space

The Replacements “Pain heals.  Chics dig scars.  Glory last forever.”  I can’t tell you exactly why this tale of replacement players (Keanu Reeves, Orlando Jones, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Rhys Ifans) getting their one shot at the big time work as well for me as it does (it’s certainly neither the writing nor the acting), but its one of those flicks I find myself watching whenever I find it on TV.  Gene Hackman and Brooke Langton also star.  If you like The Replacements you might try Wildcats, and Leatherheads (read that review) and the similar (though not as good) Necessary Roughness.

Varsity Blues “You got to be the dumbest smart kid I know.”  After the star quarterback (Paul Walker) goes down the more independent-minded back-up (James Van Der Beek) begins to clash with the team’s head coach (Jon Voight).  The cast of this Texas high school football flick is better than its mediocre script and there’s enough memorable moments (Scott Caan‘s nude joy ride in a stolen police car, Miss Davis’ second job, the odd pastimes of the young Moxon, and Ali Larter‘s special sundae) to keep you watching.  Amy Smart, Ron Lester, and Tonie Perensky also star.  If you like Varsity Blues you might try Friday Night Lights and Lucas, and All the Right Moves.

The Ugly

Air Bud: Golden Receiver Buddy the Golden Retriever plays football and evades evil Russian circus managers (Nora Dunn, Perry Anziloti) with their own plans for the mutt.  Do I really need to say anything more?  You might also want to steer clear of Air Bud, Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, Air Bud Strikes Back, and Air Bud: World Pup.

Heaven Can Wait Warren Beatty (who also directs) stars as a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams who dies before his time and comes back as a millionaire. Long, boring, and simply dreadful.  Julie Christie, James Mason, Dyan Cannon, and Charles Grodin also star.  You may also want to stay away from Down to Earth and All of Me.

The Longest Yard (2005) Now I’m not one of those people who gushes over the original film, but this remake starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Nelly, and Bill Goldberg is your basic dumbed-down, poorly imagined, badly cast, Hollywood junk.  You might also want to stay away from The Waterboy (mildly okay for one or two viewings but not much more) and The Comebacks.

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