Over the years we have seen a huge array of inspirational sports movies. Some better than others but, more times than not, they are just another generic sports film.
Thankfully, over the years we have been able to come up with at least a few worth watching.
The best and most recent sports film worth watching is the 2009 production, The Blind Side.
Sandra Bullock, Quentin Aaron, and Tim McGraw tell the story of American football star Michael Oher. When the commercials started previewing for this movie, I shook my head and swore to never watch it, as I suspected it would be the same story plot. Underprivileged boy beats all odds and makes it, fulfilling his dreams.
Well, that is kind of what happens, but the angle the producers took will really keep you watching. Despite a generic story line, the film in my opinion is a film that will not be easily topped by more recent, future to come movies.
In the 1990’s Walt Disney productions produced a series of films, that men and women of all ages can’t resist.
The Mighty Ducks: yes I went there.
The Mighty Ducks, is a great series of films, about a youth hockey team in Minnesota. This series of three, sadly, came to an end with, D3: The Mighty Ducks, as the kids got to high school. These boys started as the underdogs, District Five, who didn’t really know how to play the game of hockey, but the day that Coach Bombay stepped on to the ice with them, everything changed, and the Ducks were created. They later became Team USA and then, of course, the JV Warriors, but they never stopped quacking.
The series has kept popular throughout the years as they still air on TV stations. The Warner Brothers film, Space Jam, pokes a little fun at it in a reference, and even South Park does a spoof on it.
In 2005, Paramount Pictures produced a keeper with Coach Carter.
This is the true story of Ken Carter, the basketball coach of Richmond High School. Carter made headlines when his winning basketball team was benched due to poor grades.
We are back to the same old plot line though, underprivileged athletes, overcome obstacles to make it. The difference between this film and others, of course, is that the student really becomes more important than the athlete part. For most athletes, if your talent is good enough you will play, despite rules. The athlete, in student-athlete, becomes more important, when it should be the other way around.
Ken Carter teaches his boys that there has to be a balance. You can’t have one without the other.
The next film is a true American classic.
Remember the Titans.
Denzel Washington becomes the head coach the football team who is forced in integrate. He teaches the team to become brothers despite social and racial differences. These boys overcome obstiacals but they don’t start as underdogs and the ending isn’t happy for every athlete. In fact, the film is more of a tragedy at times than drama. This inspirational film, goes back to one of the most memorable times in American history and brings it to life.
Not all sports movies are inspirational though.
In 1996, Universal Pictures gave us Happy Gilmore. This comedy, about an angry hockey player, who becomes a golfer, makes fun of the sport, its seriousness, and the type of people who play it. Happy, is forced to in an attempt to save his grandmothers house, and to keep her out of a nursing home.
Although, it keeps a bit of a cliché for sports film, as happy starts out as the underdog, and beats all odds. The film, will keep you rolling with laughter however, from crazy sports fans to Bob Barker. Happy Gilmore sets the stage nicely for crazy, wanna be athletes.
These are just a few, there have been other classics; like Radio, A League of Their Own (a great inspirational sports film for women), Friday Night Lights and Slapshot, but for the most part sports films have predictable story lines with predictable outcomes.
Here is my advice for film producers looking to produce another sports film. If its been done, don’t do it. We won’t watch it. Take another angle, do it different, and don’t waste my time.