Summer is pretty much here and those who aren’t playing Fallout 4 and Black Ops 3 are probably outside playing sports (I assume?). It seems to be the thing to do: I’ve even heard whispers that my home country of New Zealand recently won a trophy of some kind while doing a sports thing.
Okay, so it’s pretty clear I may be extremely underqualified to comment on or discuss sports in general; however, I have seen a few movies on the topic. To share this wealth of knowledge, I’ve compiled a few of these films to provide readers with some useful insight into the wonderful world of sports.
Oh and they’re all comedies, because dramatic sports films are usually depressing, which doesn’t make sense to me. Sports are meant to be fun, right?
Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) is the owner of Average Joe’s: a local gym on the verge of bankruptcy. When the gym is threatened to be bought out by long-time rival White Goodman (Ben Stiller), owner of the Globo-Gym across the street, a ragtag group of regulars from Average Joe’s band together to raise $50,000 to keep their local gym afloat.
Coincidentally, they find an advertisement for a dodgeball competition in which the 1st place prize money is conveniently exactly $50,000. Queue the training montage and re-telling of the classic underdog story, this time with a satirical twist.
The highlight of the film, for me, comes in the form of Patches O’Houlihan: 7-time dodgeball all-star. Patches informs the viewer, via 60’s-style instructional video, that this is “a sport of violence, exclusion and degradation”. A long-since retired Patches is recruited by the Average Joe’s team to train them in time for the big tournament in Las Vegas.
Ben Stiller comes as the icing on the cake playing the obnoxious antagonist with a creepy penchant for rubbing junk food on his body. He delivers some of the most quotable lines of the film: “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!”
Rumour has it that a sequel may be in the works, which could go either way. I’ll reserve judgment until I see what Stiller does with Zoolander 2 next year.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) wants to go fast. Propelled to the top of the podium after getting the chance to be a NASCAR driver, he enjoys the spotlight and soon marries, fathering two boys: Walker and Texas Ranger.
Things soon go south for Ricky however, when French formula 1 driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) knocks him from 1st place. Ricky struggles to get back behind the wheel after an incident on the race track, but reconnects with his estranged father (Gary Cole) to begin his rehabilitation.
With Will Ferrell in his prime after the success of Anchorman, this film was bound to be hilarious. Stir in some John C Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen and you have a comedy concoction like no other. Shake and bake!
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Before he became focussed on keeping David Spade and Kevin James employed, Adam Sandler made a pretty decent comedy about golf.
Happy Gilmore is a wannabe ice hockey player who finds himself struggling to save his poor grandma’s home from repossession. While he isn’t any good at the actual game of hockey, he does possess the secret to the perfect slap shot, passed down to him by his father. This comes in handy when the repo men challenge Happy to a golf drive competition. From there, Happy finds his niche in the sport of golf and goes on to enter a pro golf tour.
Haven’t caught Sandler’s latest flick ‘Pixels’? Don’t bother: I recommend you just watch Happy Gilmore again instead.
Cool Runnings (1993)
This is one of those films that you’ll never hear anyone say anything negative about. It’s a definitive 90’s family classic, right up there with The Mighty Ducks and Home Alone.
Cool Runnings tells the semi-factual story of a Jamaican bobsled team competing in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Starring the late John Candy as the ‘coach brought out of retirement’, Cool Runnings is the quintessential underdog story. It holds a special place in film history as well, being the last work of his that John Candy saw released.
We follow Derice, Sanka, Yul and Junior as they journey from their humble lives in Jamaica, all the way to Alberta, Canada, to compete in the Winter Olympics. Obviously, the lack of snow and ice in Jamaica mean that the team has little experience on a bobsled track. With the help of Irv Blitzer (Candy), they play to their strengths, as Derice is a top 100m sprinter and Sanka is a champion push cart racer.
The genius of this movie really comes through in the writing. Endlessly quotable lines and a constant flow of jokes, mostly coming from everybody’s favourite character Sanka. I don’t think there’s a kid who grew up in the 90s who wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror and finish this sentence: “I see pride! I see power!…”
With the constant flood of comic book movies hitting cinemas, we simply don’t see films like this being made anymore. Original films like Cool Runnings simply aren’t bankable enough for producers to put money behind. It wouldn’t be too surprising if they re-made it however, given the trend of pandering to 90s nostalgia. It’ll probably star the Wayan brothers or something.
Make sure you give it another watch before that happens. “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! Cool Runnings!”
Space Jam (1996)
Remember Michael Jordan’s greatest accomplishment off the court? Objectively the best basketball movie of all time, so if you haven’t had your annual re-watch yet, you’d better find time quick!
For those who aren’t aware of the ground-breaking plot of the film, it features a recently retired Michael Jordan who is recruited by the one and only Bugs Bunny to play basketball against a team of animated aliens in order for the Looney Tunes to earn their freedom.
Despite lacking the original Looney Toon voice talent of Mel Blanc, the animation holds up beautifully and watching it today provides a wonderful trip down nostalgia boulevard.
A true 90s classic, starring not only Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, but Bill Murray and Wayne Knight at the height of their popularity. It’s available on Netflix, so what are you waiting for? Come on and slam!
Have a favourite sports movie we missed in our list? Let us know in the comments below.