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Filmspotting Message Boards => Marathons => Topic started by: Corndog on June 12, 2017, 02:14:06 PM

Title: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on June 12, 2017, 02:14:06 PM
Springboarding off my Baseball marathon (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13359.0), which was very fun and enlightening, discovering many great baseball movies, and re-discovering countless more, I would love to explore the world of the Football movie a little more. Baseball is my favorite sport, and as such, I have seen a good number of the films I included as part of that marathon, but I have only recently become more engaged in the sport of Football. There are certainly fewer movies centered around the sport than Baseball, but there is great opportunity in Football to explore films I have never seen before. I tried as best I could to include a good mix of styles and eras of film.

I figured now was as good as any time to start this process, overlapping with my Westerns marathon (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13658.0) which will seemingly last forever anyway. And with football only a few months away, I will hopefully be watching a number of these in season, or at least pre-season.

As always, I encourage you to follow along and be a part of the discussion! Enjoy!

(https://imgur.com/fhmo1hc.jpg)

Title: Re: Football
Post by: pixote on June 12, 2017, 05:31:22 PM
I hope there are some hidden gems in here, especially since this slate doesn't seem as strong as the Baseball lineup (at least at first glance).

From what I've seen, football has been much better served by documentary films than by fiction films (going back at least as far as 1962 with Mooney vs. Fowle).

pixote
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on June 12, 2017, 05:41:43 PM
I do have the one documentary included here, Undefeated, mostly because it looked too good to leave off. But yes, there are a lot more throwaway comedies here than I would like. I wonder why there haven't been more great football movies.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: pixote on June 12, 2017, 05:48:37 PM
I do have the one documentary included here, Undefeated, mostly because it looked too good to leave off. But yes, there are a lot more throwaway comedies here than I would like.

I can vouch (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14137.msg858304#msg858304) for Undefeated, along with the Netflix series Last Chance U.

I wonder why there haven't been more great football movies.

I was wondering that too. It seems like an odd gap in the history of movies.

pixote
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on June 12, 2017, 08:56:08 PM
Your list has everything I thought of. Excited to read another opinion of Trouble Along the Way, Brian's Song and North Dallas Forty. You've got three of my least favorites in there too... all in a row. (12-14)


I find it amusing that these marathons keep throwing Lloyd Bacon at you. Baseball gave you It Happens Every Spring and Kill the Umpire, Westerns sparked our debate over The Oklahoma Kid. Now, you'll have Knute Rockne All American. That's also one of the few titles on your list I haven't seen, even though it stars Pat O'Brien, who is a favorite of mine. Guess that'll be my 25th Lloyd Bacon film.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on June 20, 2017, 02:38:56 PM
(http://imgur.com/DpgCb5Q.jpg)
The Freshman (Sam Taylor & Fred C. Newmeyer, 1925)

Harold Lloyd is the underappreciated, underseen silent comedy star. Along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Lloyd helped pioneer the genre and form, but to this day his name run third behind the other two. I myself have never seen a Harold Lloyd film, which makes The Freshman the perfect starting point to "kickoff" this football marathon. I know far less about football compared to baseball, so my experiences with these films will likely be a bit different. For instance, I have no sense of the popularity of the sport of football at a time like 1925, when this film was produced. Not having a vast knowledge of the history of the game, most of what will come in this marathon will be personal experiences, and how I feel about the game that has likely surpassed baseball in terms of popularity in this day and age.

Harold (Harold Lloyd) is an enthusiastic young man who cannot wait to go off to college. Certainly at the time, college was not a well trodden path for most families. Off to Tate (College? University?), Harold hopes to be popular by mimicking a character in his favorite movie, and by joining the football team in hopes of becoming captain. While Harold thinks he is becoming popular, he is really becoming the laughing stock of campus. With the help of Peggy, whom he met on the train to school, Harold starts to realize that his true self should be enough to be popular, and that he is trying to hard to be someone he is not. Clumsy and nerdy or not, Harold hopes to help Tate beat their rival Union State in the big football game, if he can ever get off the bench and into the game.

Chaplin and Keaton each have their own unique style, and it works wonders. Chaplin plays the hapless Tramp character, while Keaton's stone faced delivery sets him apart. So what makes Harold Lloyd unique. From first viewing, I would say his sincerity. Of the three, Lloyd is likely most adept at communicating a feeling. His acting style is so conversational, so natural that it feels as though he is a trained actor from today, avoiding the often boisterous and outlandish acting styles of the silent era in favor of an expression of reaction of sincerity. This was quite refreshing and makes me want to seek out more of his popular films.

I think the central storyline is well conceived as well. It's something we've likely seen countless times: be yourself, but Lloyd's sincerity and sense of humor make it a success in spite of this. Not fully understanding the history of the game, I found it interesting that even in 1925, being captain of the football team made you the most popular student on campus. The football scenes are exciting, if not a little disorienting (I'm not sure you can figure out the rules of the game by watching this). Played for laughs here, the brutal nature of the sport will likely be a common thread throughout this marathon. In 1925, when they hardly wore pads, it might seem funny to see a woozy and clearly concussed Harold "brave" his way through tackling practice. He's applauded for his spirit and drive. Today it just looks dumb.

You certainly can't fault the film for something like that, but it definitely shifts the perspective of the film. Seeing it in the lens of 1925, these moments are funny. Look at how the nerdy student gets beaten up! But in the lens of 2017, they hardly seem funny at all, more concerning and sad really. Endorsing the game of football is not what this film is about though, thankfully. Rather, Lloyd and the filmmaking team set out to make some funny scenes revolve around a heartwarming story about a nerdy kid being himself, and being accepted because of it. The very fact that Harold try to be someone he is not in order to be popular seems an ironic twist in 2017, when Harold Lloyd, for being himself, is not as popular as the cool kids Chaplin and Keaton. Perhaps one day the world will see him for who he truly is: a great comedian.

*** - Very Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on June 22, 2017, 11:47:23 AM
(http://imgur.com/8EgeQs0.jpg)
Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod, 1932)

Only two films into my football marathon, and already it has been a marathon of discovery. Things got started with a Harold Lloyd classic silent film, The Freshman, my first experience with the silent film star. The second installment features the famed Marx Brothers, also my first experience with the legends themselves. Of course, this also means that I don't know quite what to expect from their brand of comedy. I'm not warmed up to them, which means I can either be bowled over by their comedic style, or even potentially bored to death or completely thrown. Regardless, it is an exciting proposition and exactly why this marathon exists: to discover new things, like just how zany a football game could possibly be.

Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Groucho) has recently been appointed the new president of Huxley University, whose football team has been atrocious for many years, instead focusing its funds and attentions on academics. With Wagstaff now in charge, he hopes to revamp the football team to beat rival Darwin University. Employing the help of the hapless duo of Baravelli (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo), Wagstaff aims to recruit two burly football players from the speakeasy to help his team. However, Darwin beats them to the punch, and now Huxley is forced to try to win with just Wagstaff and his airheaded companions Baravelli and Pinky. Somehow, they compete. Somehow they coerce laughs out of the audience with their bumbling, fumbling ways.

As I said, I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly found out what the Marx Brothers brand of comedy was about. It's very broad. The film opens with a introductory speech from Groucho which perfectly frames everything about the film I wasn't going to like. It's forced, scripted, and Groucho delivers it in a way as to suggest he was so proud of just how funny he though he was. All of these things work strongly against my ability to enjoy the film. There are laughs, sure, and good gags, funny songs, etc. But everything feels diminished due to on screen expectations. It's hard to buy into something when the performers so clearly think they're more clever and funnier than the actual content suggests.

There is humor here, and I had a few laughs at the Marx Brothers expenses. But the laughs are few and far between, so thankfully the run time is a very short 70 minutes, otherwise it would have been far more difficult to suffer through the many lulls in the film where my attention wandered. Once the football game finally gets started, things pick up somewhat with some crazy in-game action. I'm not sure what game they're playing, or by what rules, but at this point all convention and structure has been thrown out anyway, which gives Harpo, Groucho and Chico the canvas necessary to make fools of themselves. The game is when the best gags are actually landed.

 In all I can't say I was overly impressed by the Marx Brothers. In a time when there wasn't television yet, they could have been great television stars. I guess that means their only outlet was these short little films for audiences to eat up, and I can fully appreciate that. Maybe my reaction is a failing of my own expectations, but I didn't laugh much. So far there have been two football movies, and both have been comedies. I look forward to seeing a greater variety of stories and styles, ones that aren't necessarily comedies, and ones that aren't just incidentally football movies. There are greener pastures ahead, though I also know there is plenty of dumb football humor in store as well. I'm glad I've meet the Marx Brothers, and maybe now that I know what to expect I'll be better prepared to enjoy their other works.

** 1/2 - Average
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 10, 2017, 12:18:10 PM
(http://imgur.com/ZbTG6bb.jpg)
Knute Rockne All American (Lloyd Bacon, 1940)

The game of football has changed and evolved a lot over the past century. What started as a tough game for college men to compete in, has become a billion dollar professional industry where star players make millions of dollars, and team owners make millions more. Even when you consider the college game, it has become such a corporate thing, with the top schools netting millions of dollars for their institutions. The conversation has even been had about college players being paid for their play. Viewing Knute Rockne All American under the current climate of the game seems a little odd. This film, made in 1940, depicts the more innocent times when the game was played for fun, for pride, and making a living out of football was frowned upon, not celebrated.

After coming to America from Norway, the Rockne's were doing everything they could to make a new dream in a new country. When Knute (Pat O'Brien) was ready to go off to college, he chose Notre Dame, a small Catholic school in Indiana. Soon, Rockne was starring on the football team, helping advance the art of the forward pass in the game. After upsetting the perennial powerhouse that was Army, Rockne used his success and fame to become the head coach at Notre Dame, where he lead championship teams with star players like George Gipp (Ronald Reagan) leading the way. Even after Gipp tragically passed away, Rockne continued to mold and inspire young men.

The romance of old time college football is on full display here, with Rockne celebrated as a legend, and Gipp memorialized as a hero. For some, this may be a turn off to the film, but I loved the tone and overall romanticism of it. In many ways, I could say the film overdoes things. It holds Rockne up on too high a pedestal, and has tunnel vision when it comes to Rockne and Notre Dame's accomplishments during the era. There were many innovators and powerhouse football programs. Rockne and Notre Dame were among the top, and this film deservedly celebrates them as such. But it does make for a rather narrow view of the culture and expanse of the game.

Of course, Pat O'Brien as Rockne himself is suitably dramatic and over-important. Reagan on the other hand brings a charm and charisma to the role of the Gipper that O'Brien lacks. Interesting how time seems to have remembered Reagan more for his role here over O'Brien. The football action in general is fine, mostly in the style of a news reel as director Lloyd Bacon neatly montages the games in favor of more character moments outside of the game itself. For instance, the moments between Rockne and Gipp on his deathbed, or the famed speech from Rockne to "win one for the Gipper", which will reappear in Rudy later in this marathon, are touching.

I have had some experience with Lloyd Bacon before, and I've always found his films to be good, but never great. His is a workmanlike style which assures entertainment, but basically guarantees a lack of greatness. The same can be said of Knute Rockne All American, which entertains, but fails to stay with you the further you become removed from the experience. It's a fine couple hours to spend, especially for fans of old time college football, or more specifically Notre Dame, but not a film to which I will soon return. In terms of its place within football movies, it marks an important document of an era of college football, but otherwise it's a rather bland entry.

*** - Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on July 11, 2017, 05:19:12 PM
Much as I love Warner Bros during this era, their Achilles heel was the biopic. Maybe it's because cinema was newer and less sophisticated, but their biopics tended to hit the highlights with broad strokes and immortalize their central figures as saints among us everyday people. Sure, there are some winners, like Yankee Doodle Dandy and Sergeant York, but even they are guilty of this approach.

Knute Rockne is a typical example, and Lloyd Bacon can do nothing to elevate "typical". His best moment may be a montage where the ball and players are constantly thrown directly at the camera lens. Knowing nothing about Knute, I was surprised at how rushed or telegraphed some of the key moments are. Ronald Reagan goes from a cough to dead inside of 5 minutes. Rockne's invention of a passing game is given just as little attention, but his final minutes... well I guess they assumed the audience already knew what happened. (BTW, I would have liked if the movie just told the story of the invention of the passing game and Rockne's box formation.)

I'm most disappointed in Pat O'Brien. He's usually a dynamo, but most of the time his attempt to be reverential is a wet towel over his charisma. There are later scenes full of bluster... and I think a thicker accent. I wonder if those rousing speeches were filmed first because they're not consistent.

Also, is it pronounced newt or ka-newt. It seems every actor was allowed to say it however they wanted. Nobody is corrected and O'Brien and Donald Crisp say it both ways during the film. That's just sloppy.
RATING: * *
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Jeff Schroeck on July 11, 2017, 05:32:09 PM
I love Big Fan! You could even say I'm a huge supporter of it!!
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 12, 2017, 08:59:27 AM
Wow, I guess I was swept up more by the romanticism of the biopic, which seemed to be a sticking point for you 1SO. I can't really argue with the points you make though, I agree they are there, but I feel we just received them slightly differently. I was much more forgiving and receptive.

As for how to pronounce his name, I always thought it was newt, but the film seems to favor the ka-newt pronunciation. Given the film was apparently made in consult with Rockne's widow, my guess is ka-newt is the more accurate pronunciation, while newt is the Americanization of it.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on July 12, 2017, 09:33:20 AM
Knut is a Nordic name and the only possible pronunciation here is with a clear "K" at the beginning. If you insert an "N" and a "T" in the Ku of Ku Klux Klan you arrive at a pretty accurate pronunciation. End of lesson. :D
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on July 13, 2017, 12:37:38 AM
Wow, I guess I was swept up more by the romanticism of the biopic, which seemed to be a sticking point for you 1SO. I can't really argue with the points you make though, I agree they are there, but I feel we just received them slightly differently. I was much more forgiving and receptive.

Because of this Marathon, I'm looking at these sports films in terms of what new angle do they put on the game. Big Leaguer, for all its dramatic simplicity, is insightful about baseball tryouts. Knute Rockne is about a person, not a particular aspect of the sport, but in the film Knute changes the game twice and the importance of his contribution is marginalized. Just some more examples of what a saint he was.


I'll probably rewatch Trouble Along the Way. I hardly remember it but it's got John Wayne and Charles Coburn and that's good enough for me.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 19, 2017, 09:25:54 AM
(http://imgur.com/RuUaFnI.jpg)
Trouble Along the Way (Michael Curtiz, 1953)

When researching titles for my Football marathon, I was hoping to find a few like Trouble Along the Way. I had never heard of the film, but quickly saw that Hollywood legend John Wayne starred (seriously, other than a cowboy, a football player/coach is the dream role for Wayne). Michael Curtiz also caught my eye as the director. While Curtiz is not a legendary filmmaker, he would likely fall somewhere in the next few tiers. Curtiz was perhaps more craftsman than most auteurs, but his resume is still impressive with titles like Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce, and more. He always seemed to have made solid, entertaining films, not dissimilar to Lloyd Bacon (Knute Rockne All American), but also on a much higher level than Bacon. So with the pairing of a director I know and like, and a lead actor I know and love, what could go wrong? Well, of course there was Trouble Along the Way.

As the head of small Catholic college St. Anthony's, Father Burke (Charles Coburn) must find a way to raise enough money to keep the school open. Motivated by having spent his entire life at St. Anthony's, Father Burke turns to football as a way to save the school. But with a terrible team, Father Burke turns to outcast coach Steve Williams (John Wayne). Once a brilliant football mind, he was cast out of big time college ball for recruiting violations. As he starts to revive St. Anthony's, Williams must also contend with Alice Singleton (Donna Reed), who is there to evaluate Steve's ability to care for his daughter after a divorce. Soon enough, St. Anthony's is rolling on the field, but Steve is finding trouble off of it as he once again becomes involved in a recruiting scandal all the while fighting to retain custody of his daughter.

Who knew that a movie directed by Michael Curtiz starring John Wayne playing a football coach could be so....boring? I was really excited at the prospects of this film, and perhaps that's my fault, but what resulted was a rather loud dud. Wayne is fine in the role, it's certainly not his fault the movie is boring, but I think the screenplay and direction was seriously lacking throughout this film. The story just seems to slog along without ever giving any story line its proper due. The characters here are interesting, but with everything seemingly going on, there isn't enough room to hold everyone in a tight film.

The Donna Reed side story especially seemed distracting. Making the struggle between Steve and his daughter and Alice, the agent assigned to rule on the custody case is extremely forced. Alice is inserted only for romance purposes, and the added trouble of Steve dealing with a custody battle is superfluous, even as they try to use it as evidence that Steve is really a good guy. I just wasn't convinced and could have done without it. Father Burke's story was rather fascinating. Perhaps there would have been more time to spend with him and his history with the school, desire to save it, etc. Having gone to Catholic school as a kid, and having known a clergyman who taught at my high school for upwards of 40 years, Burke was one of the more interesting characters to me.

The focus of this marathon is to find interesting movies that evolve around football. The first thing I look for is whether or not the movie is any good (spoiler: I didn't like Trouble Along the Way), but the secondary thing to look for is the football action itself. Here, there is some decent action, but like the first few films in the marathon, much of the action looks more like news reel style than choreographed for the film. The most interesting aspect of this film was the inclusion of recruiting, obviously something specific to college football (and we have yet to have a pro game movie). It's not explored at depth, but adds a new layer. All that said, Trouble Along the Way wasn't a good movie no matter how you inspect it. It may bring some new things to the table in terms of the genre, but ultimately it's not entertaining enough, and that's the most important thing.

** 1/2 - Average
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on July 19, 2017, 11:36:47 AM
Yep. I didn't remember the movie too well, but your review reminded me, so I think I can skip the re-watch.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Antares on July 19, 2017, 05:55:55 PM
I do have the one documentary included here, Undefeated, mostly because it looked too good to leave off.

You have Concussion (2015) at the end of your list, you should also watch PBS' episode of Frontline - League of Denial (2013), same story, but in documentary form.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on July 19, 2017, 10:09:21 PM
It may be too early for this cliche to have developed yet, but whenever it comes up I want to hear how good the half-time coaches speech was (or whenever that moment happens to occur... it's not always half-time but you know what I mean). :)

I'm also super interested to hear which movies you think cinematically did the best job of capturing the game itself. I mean I imagine most of them will not be overly innovative, but there are others that are extremely stylized in their approach. For instance, I would be impressed if any of them match Any Given Sunday for intensity, or Rudy for emotion. It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing, or heck, the XFL's influence. You watched that 30 for 30 I think. :)

Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 20, 2017, 07:07:05 AM
It may be too early for this cliche to have developed yet, but whenever it comes up I want to hear how good the half-time coaches speech was (or whenever that moment happens to occur... it's not always half-time but you know what I mean). :)

I'm also super interested to hear which movies you think cinematically did the best job of capturing the game itself. I mean I imagine most of them will not be overly innovative, but there are others that are extremely stylized in their approach. For instance, I would be impressed if any of them match Any Given Sunday for intensity, or Rudy for emotion. It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing, or heck, the XFL's influence. You watched that 30 for 30 I think. :)

So far the Win one for the Gipper speech is the only one from Knute Rockne All American. I think that one kind of sets the standard.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on October 03, 2017, 01:56:32 PM
(https://imgur.com/iw9IppI.jpg)
Paper Lion (Alex March, 1968)

Okay, let's get back on track. This football marathon was meant to take me right up through the football season and here we are already well into both college and pro seasons and I've just barely gotten started! While it has been a busy summer for me, I have to say Paper Lion was one of the more intriguing titles on my list for a few reasons. First, George Plimpton, who wrote the book about his experiences trying out to be the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, is a wonderful writer. I was exposed to him as part of his commentary within Ken Burns' phenomenal Baseball documentary. Plimpton is eccentric, but his passion and curiosity always shine through. Second, the opportunity to explore what it means to play in the NFL and to make a team. I'm not sure any of us who have never done it could ever fully understand.

George Plimpton (Alan Alda) is a renowned sports writer for Sports Illustrated, specializing in quirky and immersive journalism that includes going three rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson and pitching to the American League All-Star team. Certainly these are not acts that would be recommended for the common man. But Plimpton is not a common man, which is why when his new story idea is to tryout to be an NFL quarterback with the Detroit Lions, he catches hell from just about every member of the team. Plimpton has some natural athletic talent, enough to not be a complete trainwreck, but when the players catch on to his angle, they initially rebuke him, eventually warming to Plimpton's delightful persistence and faithful attitude to his attempt. This is no gimmick, Plimpton wants to make the team.

Anyone who has played high school sports has probably had the thought: how would I cut it at the pro level? For me, a baseball player, it was always "could I make contact against a major league pitcher"? I never played organized football in my life, but I imagine that George Plimpton's "Paper Lion" experiment is the dream of thousands. What would it take to go through an NFL camp? This experiment is much more realistic in the 1960s than it is now, in a time of specialized athletes, advanced training, and players taking it as a full time job. That's not to take away from players from yesteryear, many of whom make appearances here, I am sure they were all supreme athletes and would mop the floor against any lesser competition today, but athletes today are freaks, with lineman easily surpassing 300 pounds. 300 pounds back then was considered too big.

Alda is the only star here, as I mentioned a number of players playing themselves inside the Lions locker room, which is both a blessing and a curse. Alda is just fine as Plimpton, though perhaps not quite as charming. But the players really do show themselves as amateur actors, but their presence is also welcome on the field, where it matters most. This marathon has featured very little in the way of realistic football action, but the bar has now been set. NFL Films became popular in the 1960s, and continues to impress and raise the bar for football photography. I am not sure whether some of their footage was used here, but the football action is certainly realistic, with the scrimmage against the Cardinals being the high point. If anything else, Paper Lion showcases just how brutal the game of football can be.

As a narrative, the story is subpar, with very little focus on Plimpton's talents and his journey to make the team. It is treated as a gimmick, even though Plimpton was dead serious. That doesn't come across as well as I would have hoped. The relationships he forms with his teammates is nice to follow, as some of them appreciate his courage and passion for the project, but in general, the story plays second fiddle to the dream, making the film play more like a television documentary. Today we have Hard Knocks, a documentary showcasing one team's training camp, the star players, and the fringe players struggling the make the team. For its era, Paper Lion is impressive, albeit lacking in a formed narrative. For now, it stands as the best example of football action to date. We'll see it that can be surpassed.

*** - Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on October 03, 2017, 02:02:39 PM
It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing

Accurate.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on October 05, 2017, 01:45:28 AM
Not a film I'd ever heard of. You spoke of how if nothing else it shows the potential brutality of the game, which got me to wondering if you had included Concussion in your marathon (you had). Then I got thinking about the story I heard this week that Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE, and the daughter is suing the NFL (http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/21/aaron-hernandez-had-severe-cte-daughter-sues-nfl-new-england-patriots/). I wonder if they're working on a 30 for 30 around that. Does it seem like the kind of story they might do a doc around?
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on October 05, 2017, 07:12:48 AM
I imagine someone somewhere will do a CTE documentary in connection with the NFL at some point, despite the league's desire to cover it up.

Apparently Steve James has one, not specific to the NFL, but head injuries in general. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2239400/)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on October 09, 2017, 02:34:14 PM
(https://imgur.com/i3cGF5N.jpg)
Brian's Song (Buzz Kulik, 1971

While I have plenty to chose from while compiling my list of films for the Baseball marathon, Football was much more scarce, for whatever reason. I have often wondered what it was about the sport of football that makes it so much harder to film, so much harder to tell a story around. Is it the action that makes it difficult? Is it the popularity? Football has long been pushing baseball for most popular in the United States, having likely surpassed it in the last decade or two. I'm not sure my exercise here will be able to find the answer to this question, though if I had to guess it would have to do with the violent nature of the game, while baseball is a far easier sport to romanticize. Whatever the case, I was forced to dip into the well of made for television movies to fill out my roster, but Brian's Song is so much more than a TV movie, and earns its spot on the team.

I have often heard of the greats of the game, but never had a chance to truly witness their greatness. Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) was one such great. A running back for the Chicago Bears who was so fast, so agile, so light on his feet, capable of running either around or through the defender to gain a yard on the field. I, on the other hand, have never heard of Brian Piccolo (James Caan), a fellow Bears running back. The two played on the same teams lead by legendary coach George Halas (Jack Warden), but they formed a unique bond off the field as well. At a time when black and white was just that, separate, the black Sayers and white Piccolo found a way to become great friends. And while competing for the same spot on the field, they found themselves pulling for each other's livelihoods off of it.

Brian's Song is a brief film, registering under 80 minutes, but it packs enough of a punch in that short time to be remembered. It should not be taken as high art, as it very much feels like a made for television film, but I mean no disrespect by pointing out this lack of technical achievement. In fact, the film plays within its constraints by focusing on the central relationship in the film, connecting to the audience in its screenplay and performances. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan have remarkable on screen chemistry, with Caan giving such vitality to Piccolo, and Williams providing necessary perspective to the Sayers character. 

The film is mostly short on football action, but that is simply because it is made to show the bond which can be formed between players off the field, not just on it. What limited in game action is showed appears to be archival footage of the actual Sayers and Piccolo, and it's a joy to watch, as I said earlier, to watch Sayers glide on the football field to gridiron glory. Piccolo, while not garnering the same historic praise, shows himself a capable player as well. There is some training camp action, mostly featuring Sayers and Piccolo racing each other, as they also end up doing during the course of Sayer's recovery from injury. It doesn't rival Paper Lion for its depiction of game action, but that is not its intent.

Instead, Brian's Song soars in its communication of the heart and relationship of these two men, at a time when society thought they ought not to be friends, they were there for each other, steadfast and unflinching, even in the face of death, forming a bond that could not be broken. It's very sentimental for that reason, but it also works for that reason. It's such a touching story, in fact, that it was re-adapted into another TV movie in 2001. And while that film was not included in my marathon, I see no reason to, as Buzz Kulik's 1971 version is all the more one could ask for about the story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, especially too since it features a wonderful score from Michel Legrand. It's a film that may be limited by its resources, budget and ambition, but it also succeeds in spite of these limitations.

*** - Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on October 13, 2017, 11:10:16 PM
Brian's Song (Buzz Kulik, 1971

While I have plenty to chose from while compiling my list of films for the Baseball marathon, Football was much more scarce, for whatever reason. I have often wondered what it was about the sport of football that makes it so much harder to film, so much harder to tell a story around. Is it the action that makes it difficult? Is it the popularity? Football has long been pushing baseball for most popular in the United States, having likely surpassed it in the last decade or two. I'm not sure my exercise here will be able to find the answer to this question, though if I had to guess it would have to do with the violent nature of the game, while baseball is a far easier sport to romanticize.

It is a hard question to answer. When I think of the men on the field, in baseball or football, there are really only a couple of positions around which they tend make movies. In baseball your protagonist is either a big hitter or a pitcher. In football they are the quarterback, or very rarely another position. The difference of course is that a pitcher or hitter can win the game in a solitary moment of greatness, where the quarterback can throw the perfect ball but someone still has to catch it. Perhaps that's why many football movies tend towards being coach-centric, instead of player-centric.

Perhaps too the answer is in the physique. To play a convincing baseball player does not require a phenomenal athletic body, and so you can cast your film from a much deeper well. John Goodman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Redford, and so on. Football requires you to cast actors who can be convincing football players, which is a much stricter requirement. A quarterback can and has been played by pretty ordinary looking actors, Dennis Quaid for instance, but outside of that your D-line is not going to be made up of A-list Hollywood everymen. :)) So maybe that plays a part. Basketball movies seem to bear that out as they are almost entirely coach-centric (which is the only position you typical Hollywood actor would be suited for in that sport).

Quote
I have often heard of the greats of the game, but never had a chance to truly witness their greatness. Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) was one such great. A running back for the Chicago Bears who was so fast, so agile, so light on his feet, capable of running either around or through the defender to gain a yard on the field. I, on the other hand, have never heard of Brian Piccolo (James Caan), a fellow Bears running back. The two played on the same teams lead by legendary coach George Halas (Jack Warden), but they formed a unique bond off the field as well. At a time when black and white was just that, separate, the black Sayers and white Piccolo found a way to become great friends. And while competing for the same spot on the field, they found themselves pulling for each other's livelihoods off of it.

It'll be interesting to see when money becomes a big component of these stories. Or maybe it already has?
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on October 25, 2017, 10:15:40 AM
Thanks for the response smirnoff! I think you're right in terms of not only physique but also the style of the game being barriers to convincing football movies, with most actors better suited to be coaches, and for the story to resonate a little more through the coach's story.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on November 06, 2017, 01:17:32 PM
(https://imgur.com/uSCWLMQ.jpg)
The Longest Yard (Robert Aldrich, 1974)

It seems every good sports movie deserves a remake. At least it would seem that way based on what I have seen from my Baseball marathon, and now rolling into my Football marathon as well. The Longest Yard is the only remake on my football movie list, but it seems to be quite the peculiar choice. This review concerns the original film from 1974. I will revisit the 2005 remake starring Adam Sandler later on in this marathon. I am sure I will revisit this topic upon reviewing that film, but after seeing the original once again (one of the few films on this list I have already seen), I am not quite sure what it is about the story which requires an updating to current pop culture. I guess I will find out when I get to the 2005 version. But for now, the great 1974 version starring Burt Reynolds...

Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) is a former star professional football player, spending his retired days drinking too much and neglecting his woman. After a fight, Crewe goes for a joyride in his girlfriends car, landing him a few years in Citrus State Prison. Upon learning of the star quarterback's arrival in his prison, the warden (Eddie Albert) is excited to have a celebrity among his inmates, especially as he takes great pride in his prison guard football team, lead by Captain Knauer (Ed Lauter), who is competing for a semi-professional national championship. After originally declining his offer, Crewe agrees to round up an inmate team to face the guards in an exhibition game to help the team gain confidence. But when the inmates learn about the opportunity to play football against the guards, they happily enlist for every cheap shot they can possibly get in before the whistle.

It's kind of hard to put my finger on why this film is so entertaining. At the surface it feels juvenile and simple, but perhaps that is its charm exactly. Unlike what you would expect from an Adam Sandler movie (I am sure we will discover the remake is exactly what we think it will be), though juvenile and simple do come to mind, the comedy here is more effective than simple slapstick, and it has social undertones which run throughout which give the film a little more weight than one might expect. These are criminals behind bars, facing time for crimes committed, and that should not be forgotten. I don't think director Robert Aldrich neglects this, but his narrative does bring a sympathetic focus which paints them as human beings, instead of the thugs and animals the guards seem to think they are based on how they treat them. By framing the inmates as the heroes against the evil guards, Aldrich turns the narrative on its head. It's always more fun rooting for the bad guys.

But Aldrich humanizes the inmates to make them easy to root for. Crewe has a chip on his shoulder, out to prove himself after ruining his life with gambling accusations. His redemption is more than simply about atoning for the crime that landed him in jail in the first place. Others, like Scarboro (Michael Conrad), Granville (Harry Caesar) and Caretaker (James Hampton) all have something to prove as well. Something to redeem their faults and past missteps in life. This is more than just a game for the inmates, and Aldrich captures these stakes with great care, while also making sure the setup is fun as hell and funny.

A number of the actors had played professional football before, including Mike Henry, Joe Kapp, Ray Nitschke, Ernie Wheelwright, Ray Ogden and Pervis Atkins. As one might imagine the actual football game is brutal as hell, but the way in which Aldrich films it makes it the marquee sequence in the film. Scarcely remembering the film from my first viewing years ago, I was expecting a fun time, especially during the game. And I got that. This is not the first time that a football film culminates in a featured game, but The Longest Yard features the most effective game played in the marathon thus far. What surprised me was everything else, which was a compelling story of redemption. At the end of the day, above all else, The Longest Yard is just a fun as hell film.

*** - Very Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 16, 2018, 10:05:54 AM
(https://imgur.com/1FMXwzN.jpg)
Semi-Tough (Michael Ritchie, 1977)

With 2017 (mostly) behind us, and the football season crescendoing to a Super Bowl finish in the coming weeks, I thought it was high time I returned to my Football Movie Marathon, which I started back in the summer. I made some headway, but not much, and unfortunately was forced to abandon it upon the close of 2017 and the deluge of awards worthy films being released. Getting back to these football movies is like a lovely reprieve from the fare I've grown accustomed to in recent months. Getting back to older movies, and sports ones at that is like a much needed vacation. Of course this is all considering that the movies I explore in this marathon are actually good. And coming off one good Burt Reynolds football movie (The Longest Yard), it should be easy to assume that another Reynolds football movie would be more of the same. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and Semi-Tough was an all-the-way tough entry back into the marathon.

Semi-Tough plays out more like a buddy comedy than we saw in The Longest Yard, as Reynolds shares the limelight with fellow player Kris Kristofferson. The duo plays for the Miami professional team (nickname not included), with Billy Clyde (Reynolds) as the running back, and Shake (Kristofferson) as the wide receiver. The two like to be the outlaws of the team, having more fun than perhaps they ought to. A kink is thrown into the storyline when we find out they share an apartment with the owner's daughter, Barbara Jane (Jill Clayburgh). But the three are able to coexist in a platonic atmosphere, until that is Shake and Barbara Jane begin to fall for each other, resulting in their wedding, and potential falling out between them and Billy Clyde as the team works its way to a championship.

My immediate reaction to the film was shocked at just how slight it all felt. Such a strange narrative with a story about these three characters and their relationships with each other with very little drama, tension, or stakes. In many ways it felt like the pilot episode for a sit-com, which left much of the character development to later in the series, as we get a little more and more about each, with evolving stakes in the relationships. As a result, in a feature length film package, Semi-Tough felt a little bit like a joke which literally couldn't take itself less seriously. And I am all for the funny party movie, or whatever, but it hardly made me laugh, often making me cringe instead, as it appears the filmmakers wished to depict the lewd locker room culture of a pro football team in the 1970s.

I just wasn't that interested in taking a step into that space, especially in a story devoid of characters worth caring about, or cheering for. I expected more from director Michael Ritchie, who balanced these elements so effectively just a year before in The Bad News Bears. The cast was of no help to the proceedings either, lead by Jill Clayburgh who felt more out of water than anyone else. Barbara Jane was made to be "one of the guys", but Clayburgh's performance feels so false and delivered, as though she is a goody too shoes forcing her way into this role. And it shows, painfully. Reynolds and Kristofferson, on the other hand, are just fine. With little to work with in regards to their characters, neither stands out, nor brings the film down.

In terms of the football action, Semi-Tough does very little to push the envelope in how the game is depicted in film. There are very few sequences, and Reynolds and Kristofferson appear athletic, but the football sequences do nothing to really show the speed or physicality of the game. There is nothing memorable from that standpoint, especially since the team's performance takes a backseat to the love triangle narrative. I think the biggest detractor for me in the whole film was its locker room talk, and its inability to really reckon with how horrible some of these people can be, like Brian Dennehy's character. It's not a good look for dumb football players who only care about sports, alcohol and women, taking whatever they can get. It's particularly awkward given the current culture in 2018. This film did not age well.

★★ - Poor
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on January 16, 2018, 10:41:38 AM
The career of Burt Reynolds is amazing to study. He was the biggest star in the 70s but his films were mostly bad then and play even worse now.

(https://imgur.com/pMOmOrZ.jpg)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 16, 2018, 11:34:37 AM
Yea, I don't know much about his filmography, but his is obviously a name everyone seems to know. Have you seen Semi-Tough? I certainly liked The Longest Yard a great deal, but perhaps that puts me in the minority?
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 16, 2018, 01:25:05 PM
(https://imgur.com/GwyaDRM.jpg)
Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty & Buck Henry, 1978)

Perhaps one of the most well-respected and well-known movies (at least for film buffs) in my Football Movie Marathon, Heaven Can Wait features Hollywood darling Warren Beatty pulling triple duty directing, writing and starring, featuring help along the way. It's a movie I decided to include at the last minute due to its reputation, which includes several Academy Award nominations, including for most of the major categories, and one Oscar win (for Art Direction). It is light on football, although no less than some of the other films included in this list. I was most pleasantly surprised by that, as it was one reason I hesitated including it. Due to its aforementioned reputation, I was excited to sit down and see it, especially coming off the disappointment that was Semi-Tough, the previous film in the marathon.

Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is the likable backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, a contending team who may be looking to make a switch to Pendleton to make a playoff push. But when he mistakenly dies one day while riding his bike, Joe must jump through hoops to try to make it back to the Rams in time to win the Super Bowl. Joe was not meant to die in that bicycle accident, but he was taken from his body prematurely by a wet behind his ears angel (Buck Henry). His manager (James Mason) looks to correct the mistake by offering Joe other bodies which have recently become available, including Leo Farnsworth, whose wife (Dyan Cannon) and secretary (Charles Grodin) have plotted to kill him, steal his fortune, and run off together. Accepting this new body, Joe must deal with the moral wrongs Farnsworth and his company are involved in, including displacing a nice lady (Julie Christie) and her fellow townspeople, all the while trying to figure out how to once again become the quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams and win the Super Bowl.

Based on a 1940s film, Here Comes Mr. Jordan starring Robert Montgomery and Claude Rains, Heaven Can Wait is a bit of an odd thing if you ask me. It has ambition in that it tells a compelling, fantastical tale about how heaven might work, and it does so in a lighthearted, and sometimes funny manner. Grodin and Cannon are there merely for comedic relief, while Beatty does much of the heavy lifting alongside James Mason. But at its heart, this is a very light movie, even with the death implications. The balancing act is difficult, especially when I often found the film to be painfully unfunny. Despite Grodin and Cannon, their antics just didn't do anything for my funny bone. I couldn't find the humor in the morbidity of their intentions, especially not knowing what kind of a man Farnwsworth was before Joe took over.

Now Beatty on the other hand does very well in playing the kind and positive Joe Pendleton. He is a little bit eccentric, living in a mobile home in the Southern California hills, playing a poor saxaphone and generally liking everybody he encounters. His is an attractive personality, and one which welcomes the viewer into his story. And the morality play on display here is compelling to some degree, as Joe must grapple with what it means to be reincarnate, and wishing to pursue his own desire, while also being cognizant of the responsibilities of his new life as Farnsworth. It's an entirely unrealistic and unrelatable situation, but it's also an interesting character study to reveal how Joe decides to live his life given his new money and status as Farnsworth. At his core he still wishes to do good and play football.

In the end, I couldn't help feeling disappointed by everything, however well intentioned it seemed to be. I simply couldn't get over how slight everything felt, especially the romance between Joe and the Julie Christie character. It was very manufactured and felt insincere. Based on his personality, Joe is a very eligible bachelor. A professional football player and all around likable guy, yet he somehow lives alone in the hills and takes a literal change in status to attract a worthy partner. All this combined with what seemed like a complete disregard for how professional football works. It was too much of a stretch to believe that Farnsworth could buy the team and push to play as QB, or that the lead athletic trainer could take his days off to help train Farnsworth, amidst a Super Bowl run by his team. These small details, on top of the already mediocre storyline, did the movie in for me. It's not without its merits, including its production values, but Heaven Can Wait was simply a disappointment for me.

★★ 1/2 - Average
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 17, 2018, 09:44:03 AM
(https://imgur.com/jl42FYs.jpg)
North Dallas Forty (Ted Kotcheff, 1979)

Football is a brutal sport. Part of that very fact is why I believe that the Football Movie is not as popular, nor as successful as the Baseball Movie. I started this marathon with the intent of finding out not just why there were fewer football movies, but why there were also fewer good football movies. Less than a quarter of the way through the marathon, I hesitate to say I've figured it out, especially after seeing what I consider to be a good football movie in North Dallas Forty, but I think I've figured it out. Especially when compared to baseball, the brutality of football makes it a difficult sport to film, and one which is difficult to not just romanticize but also sympathize. For much of the 20th century, baseball was the American Pastime. That has changed here in 2018, but the sheer volume of baseball movies also aids that sports case as the king of sports movies. It will be interesting to see whether this theory plays out to the conclusion of this marathon.

The North Dallas Bulls, purportedly based on the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s, are lead by quarterback Seth Maxwell (Mac Davis) and his buddy, aging wide receiver Phillip Elliott (Nick Nolte). Elliott is a bench player, who sees limited action each game. Striving to see more playing time, Elliott makes a bad drop in a game in which he went on to catch the game winning touchdown. However, it's the drop that haunts him, and which the coach (Charles Durning) doesn't let him forget. At the tail end of his career, he contemplates what his career has been, the sacrifices he has made of his body and personal life as he begins seeing Charlotte (Dayle Haddon), who wonders why Elliott continues to batter his body for a game.

More than any other film thus far in this marathon, North Dallas Forty takes the game of football seriously, which is surprising to say, but I believe it provides the first look into what the game means to its players in both a positive and negative way. The competition which Elliott gains from playing is like a drug, he keeps coming back for me, hoping to improve and come our victorious each time. But in the process he is also battering his body to death, to the point he can barely lift his shoulder, or move his fingers. This movie shows football as being a game for tough men, but also stupid men. So what drives these players to continue to play this brutal game, knowing the toll it is taking on their bodies? Seeing this film in 2018, with the current CTE controversy and multiple steps taken by the NFL to provide a safer game for players is truly eye-opening.

I think that is what this movie gets right above all else, the brutality and fragility of the game. Elliott is a sad sap of a character, but one with which the filmmakers manage to make us sympathetic. He drinks too much, takes too many painkillers, surrounds himself with disgusting chauvinist pig teammates, and yet we get an idea of why he continues to play, what the game means to him. And yes, there is plenty depicted which goes back to what I had said in my review of Semi-Tough. Plenty of "locker room" talk, in other words, men saying and doing disgusting and nearly unforgivable things to each other and in particular women. That aspect of the film has not aged well, and even Elliott partakes some, but the film succeeds in putting his experience within the context of his career goals. So while these elements felt gratuitous in Semi-Tough, it feels like Kotcheff includes them here to make a point about football culture in general, for better or for worse.

It's a fine line to walk and in many ways Elliott becomes an anti-hero. Someone who we learn to sympathize with, but I'm not sure we're ever really meant to root for him. Nick Nolte's performance is very good, and subtle, giving Elliott just enough humanity for us to pity him, but not enough for us to be able to fully explain why he has decided to live this way, to destroy his body. Like The Longest Yard before it, North Dallas Forty manages to put the brutality of the game into context while also crafting meaningful characters. This is a film which managed to creep up on me as it continued on, sneaking up and surprising me at just how good it really was. I think more than most other films in this marathon, North Dallas Forty does a great job at capturing what it means to play the game of football. And for that it is special.

★★★ - Very Good
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 18, 2018, 09:02:04 AM
(https://imgur.com/lOOFQs7.jpg)
All the Right Moves (Michael Chapman, 1983)

Most if not all of the movies thus far in this football marathon have been about either college or pro teams (mostly professional teams of late). This is a curious observation given that high school football is the lifeblood of the sport, even today with how popular the NFL and college football has become, but to overlook this very important level of football for much of the history of the genre seems like a serious oversight. Enter All the Right Moves, which finally moves into the high school football movie genre. As I will discuss as part of this review, high school football is not just essential to the student-athletes, their development as contributing adult citizens and their potential opportunity at higher education, but high school football is also essential to many small towns across America, which is what makes All the Right Moves all the more impactful as it enters that scene not yet explored by the football movie.

Stefen Djordjevic (Tom Cruise) is a promising defensive back for the Ampipe Bulldogs. Ampipe is a small steel town in Western Pennsylvania, the type of town nobody seems to be able to escape. Kids find glory in high school football, then take their turn working the steel mill, destined to remain in the decaying rust belt seemingly for eternity. Stef has hopes of getting out of Ampipe, to play college football on scholarship, to study engineering and have a say in how the steel his town produces gets used. But he finds himself at odds with his stubborn coach (Craig T. Nelson), who himself is trying to escape to the college ranks. Drawn to the dream of greener pastures, Stef must cope with playing the game the right way, and the way he knows how, while juggling life with a girlfriend, Lisa (Lea Thompson), who has her own aspirations, and his brother who was recently laid off from the mill.

Going into this movie, I admit my preconceived notions of it were not great. While I knew of it, and knew Tom Cruise was in it, I didn't look at it as anything more than a sort of saccharine high school romance with some football in it. I couldn't have been more wrong. While it is a high school romance with some football in it, the film focuses so acutely on the economic circumstance of the townspeople as to make this a really affecting drama. There are countless small towns across America, even today, where people are stuck. They are stuck in the city because of the economy, they are stuck because of a lack of opportunity. For many, sports are the only outlet, but in a increasingly competitive sport like football, a scholarship to college is anything but a give. These characters must work that much harder to climb out of the city they love so much, the city they hate so much.

There is immense pride in all these characters, and drive. What I found to be surprisingly progressive was the relationship between Stef and Lisa. Usually the jock football player dates the head cheerleader. In this case, Lisa is a band nerd. But there is a scene later in the movie between Lisa and the coaches wife which is surprisingly poignant, as it covers the role of the woman in the life of the men. The coaches wife tells Lisa about her high school beau, and how she doesn't know what he's up to now because she went on to live her own life, and found her own happiness with Coach Nickerson. There is a cultural need for so many of these small town high school couples to live forever after together, for better or for worse. As each is stuck in the town in which they grew up, neither is given the autonomy to grow out, to rise above the mundane rust belt life.

The football is good, the acting is good, the scenario is good. I was again very surprised that this was really the first true high school movie in this marathon, and I may be giving the movie too much credit as a result, but there always has to be a first. I plead for you to not simply write off All the Right Moves as "just another high school romance movie". It is that, but it's not just another, it's special in how it explores the pressure and passion placed upon these promising young people to move on, to make a better life for themselves by doing something they love, something they excel at. Not everybody has the talent to do what Stef can do, so for him to not get that opportunity, there would be nothing more cruel.

★★★ 1/2 - Great
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 18, 2018, 03:40:41 PM
Funny to see the casting of these older football movies. I wasn't a football fan back then, actually I wasn't alive, but everyone looks too old to be a football player. Maybe that's how it was though... a bunch of mid 30's, early 40's (if not 50's) dudes of very average size. I tried to find some stats of the average player age in the league year by year, because I was curious to see how it evolved (that and body size by position), but I came up empty.

Going merely by the screenshots you've included, the actors ages makes all the movies look like stories about late-stage athletes, not up and comers or persons in the prime. Maybe that's actually the case though so the casting is fair. I'm curious what you think of the casting generally though.

edit: wrote this moments before you posted All the Right Moves, which doesn't really apply.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 19, 2018, 10:59:04 AM
You certainly make a good point about the ages of the actors. Just some quick research:

Paper Lion - Alan Alda (32) - QB
Brian's Song - James Caan (31) - RB
Brian's Song - Billy Dee Williams (34) - RB
The Longest Yard - Burt Reynolds (38) - QB (but he is supposed to be washed up anyway
Semi-Tough - Burt Reynolds (41) - RB
Semi-Tough - Kris Kristofferson (41) - WR
Heaven Can Wait - Warren Beatty (41) - QB (also supposedly at the end of his career, but 10 years younger than he really was
North Dallas Forty - Nick Nolte (38) - WR
Title: Re: Football
Post by: pixote on January 19, 2018, 02:12:26 PM
Just some quick research

Well my day has officially been made.

edit: Then again, if smirnoff wants to jump in with some height/weight stats, with a graph comparing the actors to the league averages at the time of these films ...

pixote
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 19, 2018, 02:38:31 PM
Also,

All the Right Moves - Tom Cruise (21) - CB

More appropriate for an 18 year old high school senior.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 19, 2018, 07:52:31 PM
Alright. Building off of Corndog's list, here are the the actor heights, compared to the league average by position at the time of the films.

(https://i.imgur.com/aBUmXpG.png)

James Caan was short enough I had to expand the chart. Overall though the heights are actually reasonably in line with the league data.

Player age though... they are all well above average. They are anywhere from 4 to 14 years older than the average player age of the time.
(https://i.imgur.com/nxQuEyA.png)

Weight data is harder to come by for actors, particularly at the time of filming, but here are the league averages by position, over time.
(https://i.imgur.com/zygMCrZ.png)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 19, 2018, 09:16:36 PM
This belongs in the Best of the Boards thread. Bravo Smirnoff!
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 19, 2018, 10:42:58 PM
Bah, I just plopped in a few data points. Glad you enjoyed it though. :) Now that the chart is here, I'll be checking each new film against it out of curiosity hehe.

There is quite a few neat articles out there about age/weight/height trends in the NFL once I dug a little deeper. They attribute the changes to many things. The roster size has increased over the years allowing players to fill more specialized roles. And as a result positions have their own well defined body types, where as in the past a player needed to be more of a swiss army knife. Another interesting event was how changes in free-agent policy created an average player age spike in the early nineties. I forget why exactly.

Another article spoke about a legendary lineman from the 1920's.... 5'11 and 245lbs. He dominated in his day. :)) Today there are no lineman that small. He would be more suited to being a fullback or something.

Title: Re: Football
Post by: pixote on January 23, 2018, 12:30:51 PM
You're still the best, smirnoff. :D :D :D

pixote
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on January 23, 2018, 03:41:52 PM
(https://imgur.com/Jsnmu8K.jpg)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 23, 2018, 08:07:30 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/TnZcnBA.gif)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 24, 2018, 07:41:53 AM
What are your thoughts on North Dallas Forty 1SO? I know that was one you had mentioned at the onset as one you were curious to hear my thoughts.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on January 24, 2018, 09:07:14 AM
I wish I had seen Semi-Tough for the contrast because the two films appear very similar but ST is the shallow, playful version of ND40. I rewatched ND40 a couple of years ago and it put me in mind of three recent films.

Everybody Wants Some!! - the "locker room" talk would probably be toned down somewhat today, but it's as much a part of that world as the injuries and by making it part of the lifestyle of the players it includes us in their friendship, brings us into their world, even if we do spend more time on the bench than Elliott.

Trainspotting - Ted Kotcheff gets to have it both ways. We get the fun party scenes and the harrowing crippling of the players. He captures the rush, the drive, the need without shying away from the price to pay for that fleeting statistical glory.

Fight Club - This is a recent thought because I've been reading think pieces about how Fight Club is not aging well and people are waking up to how loopy the very idea of a Fight Club is. However, is see little difference between the mindset Football players bring to the game and a Fight Club. Buddies off the field who attempt to cause injury on the field. A toxic amount of masculinity for the purpose of proving one's cro-magnan worth, rather than let their lives simply end one minute at a time.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 30, 2018, 07:57:29 AM
(https://imgur.com/LAKByqf.jpg)
The Best of Times (Roger Spottiswoode, 1986)

The "Glory Days" are often talked about by washed up middle-aged men who peaked in high school. They hearken back to a time when everything was good, when they were the center of attention, the star of the show, when money didn't matter and life was good. Growing up can be difficult, and shouldering the responsibilities of adulthood can be burdensome. But in reality, there are many joys that come along with adulthood too, just as there can be many scars when thinking back on the glory days, the days in high school. Everybody's experience is different, and each man's life goes along a different arc. But one thing is for certain, thinking the "best of times" was when playing a game at eighteen years old and impressing the cheerleaders is either misguided or sad. There is much more to life than a game, even if impressionable young men might play the game every fall, making a lasting impact on their lifelong self-esteem.

Jack Dundee (Robin Williams) is now a manager at a bank, a job he received from his father-in-law (Donald Moffat). Regardless, he holds a successful, steady job, and yet is reminded of the failure of his high school football days on a daily basis. Against their bitter rival, Bakersfield, Taft has never won a game. But they had a chance while Jack was in school, but he dropped a wide open pass from star quarterback Reno Hightower (Kurt Russell) that otherwise would have won the game. That drop has haunted him his whole life. Despite the successful job, beautiful wife, Jack determines to re-stage the game today, in hopes of finding redemption and a new lease on life. He must first convince Reno, who tore up his knee on that same fateful play, as well as the rest of the town, to back his insane idea to get back at Bakersfield for the decades of defeat at their hands.

Robin Williams and Kurt Russell just feel like a complete mismatch, and perhaps that is the intent. Williams, who himself is not un-athletic I would suppose, still somehow feels out of place in the world of competitive football. From a pure football perspective, this movie is quite silly. Not only does Williams feel out of place (while Russell on the other hand seems ready-made to play the stud high school quarterback who is now a garage mechanic), but his brand of comedy does not mesh well with the rest of the cast and the story being told. There is a mismatch.

Ron Shelton, who it is hard to believe went on to pen the classic sports comedy Bull Durham just a few years later, wrote this film and seems to miss the point of it all. The scenario is quite off the wall and unbelievable, while also not allowing for any real stalwart comedic scenes. There is no balance between the comedy and the drama, as there is heft here as the mistake weighs upon Jack all his life, and his spirit for redemption. But I think the films greatest mistake comes from not giving Robin Williams anyone else to bounce off of for his comedy. He is the lone funny man and Kurt Russell feels like a brick when juxtaposed against Williams' antics, as muted as they may be here. Shelton just throws anything he can against the wall to see if any of it will stick. Most of it doesn't.

And yet, there is some charm to be had in this story of redemption. We all had that hated rival in high school, whether we cared at all about sports or not. For me, this story was rather close to home, even if I never myself played football. Our rival was a bigger school, and therefore almost always beat us. They were a powerhouse in the area, so any time we sniffed victory was impressive. My senior year, we were in the game late, until our quarterback fumbled a snap and that was that. Sports lovers all seek glory through the game they love. It's a macho thing that doesn't make any sense, but Jack's desire to redeem himself is not off track. But ultimately the film is too silly, and yet not funny enough. It's too serious and yet can't be taken seriously. It's tone is way off and as a result is a rather lackluster and completely forgettable affair.

★★ - Poor
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 30, 2018, 01:24:33 PM
(https://imgur.com/oWWgAtO.jpg)
Wildcats (Michael Ritchie, 1986)

Times have changed, and quite a bit thankfully, but there is still gender equality issues today. Perhaps an odd opening line to a review of this film, perhaps not, but it's what struck me while watching this film. For me, it is a personal matter. When I was a kid, baseball was everything. It is a game I love to this day, and one in which my whole family is involved. My two brothers and I were playing every spring, summer and fall league. My dad, predictably, was a coach, and perhaps the greatest coach pitcher there ever was (seriously, he could find any kids bat, and sometimes he had to). My mom was involved too. In fact, one fall league, she decided to coach one of my brothers and I. It was a great team, we had a lot of fun, and we were good. My mom spent so much time watching baseball, there is no doubt in my mind she was a good coach, and yet, there was at least one dad who always felt like she wasn't doing a good job. I was too young at the time to realize or even be aware, but surely her gender had something to do with. How sad.

Wildcats tells a similar story in many ways. Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn) may not exactly resemble my mother, but her experience likely does in many ways. Molly was raised on football, has lived it her entire life. She is the track coach at a local high school instead though, but when the JV job opens up, she applies, much to the chagrin of the varsity head coach (Bruce McGill), who jokingly offers her the varsity job instead. The catch? It's at an inner city school whose team failed to win a single game the previous year. Full of off beat and colorful players (Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Mykelti Williamson), the Central Wildcats do not take much to coaching, especially from a female. But determined to prove herself, Molly begins to transform the team into a group of believers, believers in themselves and in her.

I've never been a fan of Goldie Hawn, and her performance here does little to sway my opinion, but that doesn't necessarily reflect the material itself. Hawn's fish out of water often lacks subtlety and her performative streak can get on my nerves. It shows itself here as well, but there are quieter, dramatic, and more poignant moments as well. Hawn is not the attraction, it's the process, and the character of Molly that are interesting and even inspiring. Sitting back and looking at this film from a 2018 lens, it'd be easy to dismiss it as cheesy, predictable and middle of the road. It largely is. However, one must also consider its place within the football movie lexicon. In this way, its rags to riches, underdog story is a little more original than it probably gets credit for. It doesn't make the film any less predictable or cheesy, but this is a case of the journey is the destination.

Finding a cast this rich was a very nice surprise, especially considering I thought I was getting a Goldie Hawn movie. Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and even Mykelti Williamson would go on to further stardom, so that being said that don't get a whole lot of time to shine here. Each plays a bit part, but it's always nice to see future stars in their early roles. They are especially inspired choices because they actually fit their demographic in this movie: young and athletic. It's hard to compare high school to pro ball, apples to oranges really, but in watching these football movies I've found it startling how old some of the stars are in portraying these strong, young, athletic characters. This being set in high school, the actors are more appropriate. I don't have to be convinced that Burt Reynolds is a quarterback or Nick Nolte a wide receiver. Those days are thankfully behind us.

For a story all about the process, the process is the most interesting part of this movie, not necessarily the game moments. That being said, it certainly felt light in that aspect, as the narrative attempted to balance Molly's work as a coach and that as a single mother fighting for her right to raise her kids. In fact, this balancing act becomes what the movie is truly about, female power, Molly's ability to work and mother at the same time, something her ex-husband fails to see as he accuses her new role in an inner city school as negatively influencing the children. Forced to chose between the two at one point, Molly's character shows the wherewithal, power and determination required of a single mother who must raise her children and balance a working lifestyle, especially one in which she is influencing young people. This is what makes Wildcats a surprisingly palatable movie. It's an underrated entry into this marathon thus far.

★★ 1/2 - Average
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 30, 2018, 01:45:11 PM
What was the relationship between Snipes and Harrelson in this film? QB/WR? I'm just curious if they were characters that played off one another much and had good screen chemistry. It may have been the seeds of one of my most fondly remembered duos. Perhaps Ron Shelton made a note of it and brought them back together in White Men Can't Jump, to great effect. Later of course they would reconnect again to make Money Train... a better buddy cop movie that most imo.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on January 30, 2018, 01:58:59 PM
Woody was the QB, but when Mykelti Williamson was discovered he became the QB and Woody was a Slot back, so I'm guessing more of a WR/RB hybrid type, slot receiver. Wesley was a WR as well I'm pretty sure. There wasn't a whole lot of football bonding in the sense of them having a rapport.

Mykelti was the only football standout they spent a lot of time on, and Tab Thacker as the OT simply for his massive size.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on January 30, 2018, 03:30:27 PM
Eh, interesting. I guess just a bit of a coincidence then.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on February 05, 2018, 12:26:07 PM
(https://imgur.com/A9qiVxA.jpg)
Lucas (David Seltzer, 1986)

I knew there would be one, and quite honestly I'm not surprised it was this film. I knew when I assembled my list of football movies to marathon that at least one movie would not really be a football movie. Lucas is not really a football movie, but rather a movie that has football in it. For much of the film I was asking myself what to do about this movie. It's fine from the context of, well whatever other criteria you'd like to use, but how would I rationalize keeping it in my marathon, other than the fact I had listed it and I had watched it. By the end, there is enough football to get it by, but in reality this is a coming of age high school movie about a shy, brilliant young boy experiencing things for the very first time, and getting to know what it takes to stand up for yourself and be a man, however you'd like to define that versus how society seems to want to define it.

Lucas (Corey Haim) is impossibly shy, but one summer day he comes across a beautiful girl named Maggie (Kerri Green), a new kid to the town. The first person she's met, Maggie becomes close friends with Lucas, who seems to want to hide most everything about who he really is for fear of being ridiculed. Once school starts, however, Lucas' worst fears are realized when the bullying continues from most of the popular kids in the school. His one ally is Cappie (Charlie Sheen), a football player who finds Lucas to be too nice and good of a kid to not try to protect like an older brother. But once Lucas sees Maggie and Cappie becoming closer, his jealousy drives him to try to be more macho, even trying to play football. His love for Maggie drives him to try to become a different person, not the person Maggie became friends with over the summer.

Odd that a movie like this would be the one to challenge me to define what makes a football movie, let alone what makes a good football movie. Thus far in the marathon, there has been very little to be excited about when it comes to good movies, and even while compiling the list I remarked how it seemed there were very few great football movies, based on what I had seen or reputation alone. Then Lucas comes along and surprises me and disappoints me at the same time. It has the dubious distinction of being a movie that is quite good, then becomes a football movie, then becomes quite bad. The film soars when exploring the tenuous relationship between Lucas, a good-hearted, smart boy, and his classmates in high school. But it soon becomes just another stock jock movie once it moves in the direction of football. Maybe there is something about the sport which just inherently turns me off of it.

At its core, this is a movie about being nice to each other. High school is a difficult place to coexist with other teenagers, so Lucas' example of simply being nice to people should be applauded, and having an ally in people like Cappie and Maggie is invaluable, if a little unlikely for Lucas. His charm and personality win them over, even in the face of so many others being bullies. The romance/friendship between Lucas and Maggie is all too real as well. Sometimes that sort of love is not reciprocated, despite our best efforts. We search for a reason, thinking we have done everything right to deserve another's love, only to find out that sometimes there is nothing we can do, and nothing is more frustrating. The emotional punch this movie provides in the relationships it creates is really authentic and startling. It is the strength of the movie.

But as I said, then comes the macho competition. Seeing Lucas try to live up to the same persona as Cappie, a good looking, athletic guy, is painful to watch, as real as the sentiment may be. As a result, the scenes in which Lucas is thrown onto the football field to prove himself are laughably choreographed. This movie deserves a better third act, or at the very least better football scenes, but I'm not sure that was ever in the cards given the rest of the movie and the physical limitation of Corey Haim/Lucas. That being said, while the football leaves a rather sour taste in my mouth at the end of the movie, the strong relationships and characters which were crafted throughout the film are more than enough to make Lucas and enjoyable movie. I just wish I could count it as a win for football movies, but also, this is not really a football movie afterall.

★★★ - Good


P.S.
Now that the Super Bowl has passed, I will be putting this marathon on hold and shifting back to my Westerns marathon for much of the year. I will return to football when football itself returns. I made it about 1/3 through my list and will hopefully be able to finish it next season.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: smirnoff on February 05, 2018, 10:21:12 PM
30 week time out, coming right up. :) I'm glad this marathon is into the 80's. I think it will only get better from here.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on February 06, 2018, 05:49:22 AM
I agree, I think there will be a few good entries in the 90s. I've always been curious about The Program.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: 1SO on February 06, 2018, 10:08:06 AM
The Program is the first movie set I ever worked on. So, I might have some stories.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on February 06, 2018, 10:49:01 AM
(https://media.giphy.com/media/GrE01huFZ1RqU/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 03, 2018, 10:35:44 AM
Hoping to resume this one some time mid or late August as training camps, etc. start rolling. Hard to believe football season is right around the corner!
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Teproc on July 03, 2018, 11:03:56 AM
If by "right around the corner", you mean "right now more than at any time in the next four years", then sure.

 :P
Title: Re: Football
Post by: ferris on July 04, 2018, 03:24:23 PM
Just did a whirlwind catch up of your reviews so far.  Fun marathon!  I don't have anything to add yet, but I'll be looking forward to the rest!

Do you have Two For the Money on there?  It's my 2nd favorite football related film next to Jerry McGuire.
Title: Re: Football
Post by: Corndog on July 05, 2018, 07:26:06 AM
Do you have Two For the Money on there?  It's my 2nd favorite football related film next to Jerry McGuire.

I didn't have Two for the Money included. Having not seen it, I wasn't sure whether it qualified since it was sports betting and not sports playing (as far as I could tell). I waffled on whether to include Jerry Maguire to begin with since its similarly sports agent-ing and less sports playing.

I will say, I have a Gambling marathon (https://corndogchats.com/gambling/) in the works that does for sure have Two for the Money included. So for that reason, I think I'll reserve it for that one, otherwise I would include it here at your recommendation. (Just have to finish a few other projects first before I can become a degenerate gambler movie watcher :P)
Title: Re: Football
Post by: ferris on July 05, 2018, 07:03:16 PM
Do you have Two For the Money on there?  It's my 2nd favorite football related film next to Jerry McGuire.

I didn't have Two for the Money included. Having not seen it, I wasn't sure whether it qualified since it was sports betting and not sports playing (as far as I could tell). I waffled on whether to include Jerry Maguire to begin with since its similarly sports agent-ing and less sports playing.

I will say, I have a Gambling marathon (https://corndogchats.com/gambling/) in the works that does for sure have Two for the Money included. So for that reason, I think I'll reserve it for that one, otherwise I would include it here at your recommendation. (Just have to finish a few other projects first before I can become a degenerate gambler movie watcher :P)

Oh...yes...it fits better in the Gambling Marathon (but here it would have a lot stiffer competition for quality I think)
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on July 26, 2018, 11:40:32 AM
Training camps are starting up and the first preseason game is next week. So the plan right now is to jump back into this in the beginning of August. I'll keep up with my Westerns throughout this too, probably a 2 to 1 ratio of Football to Westerns through the end of the year and into Jan/Feb. Really hoping I can finish out Football this year, but end of the year 2018 movies may make that difficult. We shall see!
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on August 08, 2018, 08:57:51 AM
(https://imgur.com/VOPirXu.jpg)
Johnny Be Good (Bud Smith, 1988)

Oftentimes there are extenuating circumstances which just prevent something from happening. It can't be stopped. You can try, you can get help, but it's just going to happen for one reason or another. Take Johnny Be Good for instance. You can make a football movie in 1988, a fairly rich time for the genre, and get teen stars Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr. and Uma Thurman to star, and low and behold, your movie can still be a big steaming pile of horrible. It just goes to show that so many factors go into making a movie, and making a good one, that it's hard to credit one or two people for the success of a film, or for its downfall. Make no mistake, Hall, Downey and Thurman are at fault here too, though perhaps not most at fault. That distinction likely goes to director Bud Smith and the screenwriting team.

Johnny Walker (Anthony Michael Hall) is an all-star quarterback, ready to graduate from high school after leading his team to the state championship, and go play ball at a big time college football team. His coach (Paul Gleason) takes more credit than he deserves for Johnny, hoping to steer him to Piermont for his own gain, his girlfriend Georgia (Uma Thurman) wants him to go to State with her, like they had talked about, while Johnny's friend and incompetent backup quarterback Leo (Robert Downey, Jr.) is just along for the ride to reap the benefits of what it means to be recruited by the biggest schools in the country. Johnny seems to be getting in well over his head as he's courted by the biggest schools in the country, but will he come back down to earth and find the right place for him?

The premise is interesting enough. I enjoy the recruiting aspect of college football and follow Ohio State's (I'm from Columbus) classes each year with great interest. It's always fascinating to me to see how a program evaluates talent. In this day and age, rankings mean a lot, and talent means a lot, but the great programs also recruit to culture, personality. It makes a big difference. So what is Johnny Walker's personality? It's really hard to tell because his character feels underdeveloped, and his character feels a little out of Anthony Michael Hall's element. Playing against type can be great for a career, and can result in a surprisingly effective performance, but that is not Johnny Walker. Hall, who is typically the nerdy outsider type, is now the QB, jock, stud type who is too cool for school and gets courted by the biggest programs in college football. It doesn't feel right.

That's likely the least of this films transgressions, however. Stupidity is easily its greatest. The tone of the film is silly and over the top, from start to finish. Which is fine if you can be as funny and effective as National Lampoon, but this is not funny. This is awkward. There's a seedy culture of the jock getting everything he wants, of the girlfriend following behind and doing what she's supposed to. It's bad. And the acting, woof. This must have been during Downey Jr.'s drug era because what the hell is he even doing here? He doesn't seem like a real living human being. He's a caricature, and a painfully unfunny one at that. Thurman is fine, playing it mostly straight in the face of the silly around her, but her character suffers from some rather horrid writing, like the rest of the movie.

It just kept getting worse too. I kept thinking to myself this can't be real. They can't have made this bad of a movie. But, they did, unfortunately. It's a cartoon, in the worst possible way. This style of film may have been en vogue back then (thanks National Lampoon for mostly doing it right), but the imposter's version is just cringeworthy. When you make a movie like this that misses with every joke, and at every turn, the end result is just a painful watch. Painful. Never again. Avoid this movie like the plague. I had heard it wasn't good, but my curiosity, my faith in the likes of Hall, Downey Jr. and Thurman was too great. Please, I plead with you, do not make the same mistake I did. Don't see it.

- Hated It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: MartinTeller on August 08, 2018, 09:06:56 AM
My Criticker score for that movie is 6. Out of 100. It's in my bottom 20.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on August 08, 2018, 09:37:53 AM
My Criticker score for that movie is 6. Out of 100. It's in my bottom 20.

With good reason.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on August 14, 2018, 02:09:51 PM
(https://imgur.com/1RFLgWB.jpg)
Everybody's All-American (Taylor Hackford, 1988)

The football movie is not exactly a prestige picture type of genre, and especially up to this point it has been fairly obvious that the throwaway comedy is the preferred type of movie to pair with the sport of an oblong ball and hitting each other. American football is probably barbaric and a little foreign to most outside of the United States, although the NFL has grown its brand worldwide recently, but I would say it's probably a little barbaric and foreign for most awards groups as well. I could research my list and come up with an exact number of Oscar nominations, for instance, but a quick glance tells me that football movies are never really taken that seriously. But then there's Everybody's All-American, a film with the tone of an Oscar contending prestige picture, one with performances worthy of your consideration. It's also a movie that garnered zero nominations, so...back to what I was just saying about football movies...

Gavin Grey (Dennis Quaid), or the Grey Ghost as he is known to his fans, is the star player for the LSU Tigers, leading them to a national championship as their lead tailback behind an offensive line that includes his close friend Lawrence (John Goodman). He's everybody's All-American. A clean cut, straight laced star with pageant queen Babs (Jessica Lange) for a girlfriend, Gavin has everything he could ever ask for, including a doting younger cousin nicknamed Cake (Timothy Hutton), who adores both Gavin and Babs. But once Grey finds struggles in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, and eventually success, he begins to grapple with the idea of fading fame, of no longer mattering to both his fans and admirers as well as to his family, including Babs. He must pull himself together as his career progresses to not only find a new meaning for life after football, but also for life with his family and friends.

I was not yet of the age or interest to be able to tell you whether this was a film that had Oscar buzz, or to know what else got nominated that year that may or may not be better and more deserving than some of the elements in this film, but I am genuinely surprised it didn't get something. It's clearly the type of character driven, performance driven, period piece prestige picture that plays right into things. And quite honestly, it's a solidly good movie and one well worth checking out. Dennis Quaid is quite good here as Gavin Grey, a man struggling with life after football, a topic that has not yet really come up as a central theme in this football marathon, but one well worth considering given the brutal and very fleeting nature of the sport. In today's day and age, players safety is not only monitored much more closely than the era depicted in the film, but players make a whole lot more money too, setting them up much better for life after football. Quaid's performance is effective in relating his passion for the sport as well as his fears of what happens when the no longer cheer for the Grey Ghost.

But the real performance to concentrate on here is Jessica Lange, whose Babs is the perfect dose of doting, tough, and independent. To see her character evolve while Grey's does not is a telling narrative development. Gavin is stuck in the past glory while Babs must make do with a growing family and a further distant and absent husband and father to her children. She takes solace in Timothy Hutton's Cake, who also turns in a good performance. The relationship between Babs and Cake always feels just a little too close, and that tension is felt and delivered very effectively. Even John Goodman, albeit in a small, over-the-top role, is entertaining to watch, as his Lawrence displays the perfect dichotomy between what Gavin wants from life, and what Babs wants.

It's quite telling that the tone of the film shifts from a joyous, glory-ridden time of college, when Grey is the hero of an entire student body, a champion, to his time in the NFL when his body is under constant siege while his time away from home grows more and more frustrating to his family life. This is a well put together, well directed and well acted film. And like I said, one which seems to fit in with what Oscar typically looks for. A quick look at the box office numbers and it appears to have bombed there as well. I really can't explain why, as I was quite taken with the film and found it to be a wealth of quality and entertainment. It certainly ranks as one of the more polished and better football movies I've thus far seen.

★★★ - Liked It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on August 27, 2018, 02:38:03 PM
(https://imgur.com/iIUQ7Dg.jpg)
Necessary Roughness (Stan Dragoti, 1991)

Part of the fun of a marathon like this one, covering a somewhat complete history of football movies, is that a lot of these movies are ones I saw and cherished as a kid. Now a lot of those movies are yet to come (Remember the Titans, The Waterboy, etc.), but the fun lies within re-evaluating them. I am sure for the most part they won't live up to how I remember them as a kid, but another part of that is also steeped in the nostalgia of it. There is a level of remembrance which will factor in me liking these probably more than I should, but we each bring something unique to the movies, which is the beauty of it. Necessary Roughness is an odd title to fit into that nostalgia bucket, considering its 1991 release (I was born in 1988), and the fact that it's every so slightly more mature than most offerings. The only answer I can find is that it must have been on cable TV, like HBO, a lot, because it's definitely one I remember fondly and was looking forward to seeing again.

Texas State is the talk of the college football world. Sure they just won the National Championship (again), but they're in the news for the wrong reasons. After a series of allegations proved true, the program has been given what amounts to the "death penalty": no more scholarships for the once great program. Enter Coach Gennero (Hector Elizondo), who, with his assistant Wally (Robert Loggia), assembles a ragtag team from the student body which includes a aging QB (Scott Bakula), a professor (Sinbad), the son of the school's biggest donor (Jason Bateman), and a kicker from the girl's soccer team (Kathy Ireland). Together they struggle through the season, battling the overly stringent dean (Larry Miller), and all the laughs from the other teams and national media.

You know what? This is a fun movie. Plain and simple. Warts and all. And there are warts, I readily concede that point. Flawed as it may be, conventional as it may be, unrealistic as it may be, it's still a fun movie, and a lot of that has to do with the pieces of the puzzle fitting together between the characters and performances. It's not always so easy to get those things to fit, but fit here they do. Scott Bakula is a believable anchor, allowing the madness around him to hit all the right notes. This is not a good football team, these are not talented players, and yet its still so much fun to spend time with and around them. That is the charm of the film. That is what makes it work perhaps more than it should.

It's stupid, it's silly, and like I said it's fun. There's nothing new here. The underdog team has been overplayed across all sports films, and Necessary Roughness doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but it does the conventions well, which makes it a success, albeit a muted one. There are plenty of questions to ask here, like what are the true motivations of Coach Gennero to take the job? Sure, Paul Blake and Andre Krimm may have something to prove, but would they really come back to play on such a horrid team, with nothing around them? Especially Blake, basically setting himself up for failure. Also, Larry Miller is way cartoonish in this role, which doesn't really work for me. Sure the film is a little on the silly side, but his performance takes it that much further and isn't really necessary.

It's kinda sad that this has become the bright light in football movies. That may be hyperbole, there has been better, but I have really been disappointed in the overall quality of these football movies, especially when compared to their baseball counterparts. Necessary Roughness is a fine, entertaining, forgettable film. But when that's among the best the genre has to offer, there is a problem. I truly hope we rediscover some greatness here soon, but having stinkers like The Best of Times and Johnny Be Good will forever taint the football movie name. I don't mean to close this review on a down note, because I truly enjoy Necessary Roughness, and think you should too, but the standard for football movies is definitely lower than it should be, that's all I'm trying to say.

★★★ - Liked It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: smirnoff on August 27, 2018, 03:10:46 PM
I truly hope we rediscover some greatness here soon

Everything 1990 and earlier was the defensive line of this marathon. You're through it now. :)

You know what? This is a fun movie. Plain and simple. Warts and all. And there are warts, I readily concede that point.

Is it badly aged in terms of it's political correctness?
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on August 27, 2018, 03:16:09 PM
You know what? This is a fun movie. Plain and simple. Warts and all. And there are warts, I readily concede that point.

Is it badly aged in terms of it's political correctness?


No, I don't think so. Even the Kathy Ireland stuff is fairly well handled. Having Manu be her "protector" is a little outdated, but otherwise they treat her fairly. There is some initial male gaze, but she proves herself to be part of the team and is treated fairly.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on December 05, 2018, 02:30:09 PM
Lot's of catch-up to do in this marathon, and so I will just do some shorter reviews and hit some points I want to make and move along...

The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991)
First viewing of this one and I found it to be fairly rough. The football action was eye-rollingly bad, especially the opening scene. It was oddly dark for some reason, and we get to see the star running back (played by Taebo founder Billy Blanks) carry a gun in addition to the ball, and pull it out to shoot down a fellow player to avoid losing and having the sharks after him. At first I thought this was like a joke or something with how ridiculous it was, but no, we're meant to take this seriously. It's been awhile since I watched this, so I don't remember much else other than the overly foul language which seemed overdone, much like everything else in this film
★★ - Didn't Like It


Rudy (David Anspaugh, 1993)
I had seen this one before and remembered loving it. But it had been a while and I had heard some mixed feeling about it from some film circles. It's a cherished film by many, but I have also heard it criticized, so I was very curious to re-evaluate and see for myself. Conclusion: This is a great sports movie. Yes, it's idealistic. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, it's schmaltzy. And yes, it even fails to really tell much of a story as much of the second half of the film is just Rudy practicing football and hoping to see the field. But man is this moving and inspirational. It's cheesiness is a strength. It's idealism is its strength. We see a hard working kid pursue his dream and come across tons of obstacles, but he worked his ass off to achieve that goal, even if it was as small as playing a single down of football in college. But we miss the forest for the trees. By pursuing his dream, he got a degree from Notre Dame. The lessons he learned will last a lifetime. This is not just a single down accomplishment. It's so much more and for that reason we should all cherish this as a great sports movie and a great football movie.
★★★★ - Loved It


The Program (David S. Ward, 1993)
Another first time viewing for this one, which I've been curious about for a while. I was underwhelmed to be honest, and found it to be very middling. It has a ton of promise with the different characters at play, but I found I was very disappointed with the type of season that played out for this fictional college football powerhouse. Now, college football has changed a ton in the last 25 years, but with how many losses this team suffered, I stopped caring much about their success. It's a fairly paint-by-numbers story otherwise, with no real surprises or revelations. Some nice cameos, decent and believable cast. But just kind of bland overall.
★★★ - Liked It


Little Giants (Duwayne Dunham, 1994)
1993/1994 was such a great year for sports movies. Take a look at my Baseball Marathon (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13359.msg802164#msg802164) list to see. This one is one I remember fondly as a kid, and it lived up to those memories. In many ways, this is just Bad News Bears on the football field. It doesn't quite live up to those lofty levels, especially since it's naturally derivative, but the story and values remain. This is a very rag tag group of kids who just want to play football against the juggernaut team of all stars who take the sport too seriously given their age. The classic underdog story. Again, no surprises narratively, but an easy movie to root for, an easy cast to get behind, and generally a crowd-pleasing, exceedingly pleasant movie experience.
★★★ - Liked It


Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996)
Okay, so this is probably the biggest "cheat" movie on my list of football films, but I love Jerry Maguire, and a revisit was on the docket. This actually had more football in it than I remember, even if it is just a sappy love story. Cuba is fantastic here as Rod Tidwell, as is Regina King, Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger. It has a pace to it. It's kind of this weird conglomeration between a standard rom-com and slick sports movie, which is probably why it was able to have the success it did. Perfect date movie? Something for the man and woman? Regardless, this is an overly sappy, over-the-top romance with on-the-nose musical cues, but screw it, I love it. It's so easy to fall for, in some ways just like Rudy is. I don't think this is great filmmaking, but it remains one of the quintessential examples of how to make a movie like this. Sort of like how Love Actually is so great, and yet, every copycap movie since seems to suck. Jerry Maguire is great, but the style lends itself to cheap knockoffs which don't work.
★★★★ - Loved It


The Waterboy (Frank Coraci, 1998)
The Waterboy has definitely been a guilty pleasure for me my whole life. So quotable, and yes, so ridiculous, but it lands firmly in the realm of Adam Sandler movies in the late 90s which were entertaining for those who went for his brand of comedy (spoiler alert: that included me). He has since gone on to a couple impressive dramatic roles and a slew of crappy movies. I think looking back on this one after all these years, it's a crappy movie, and Bobby Boucher is a ridiculous character, but I sort of still kind of love it? It has enough laughs, enough good moments and character interactions to make this a nostalgia darling for me. I recognize it's badness, while embracing its greatness at the same time.
★★★ - Liked It


Varsity Blues (Brian Robbins, 1999)
After being, probably, too soft on a lot of these movies for nostalgia purposes, I come down a lot harder on this one. It's basically Friday Night Lights before Friday Night Lights, what with the edgy high school football, but man, this is not a good movie. Lots of cringeworthy moments and performances, especially Jon Voight at the head coach. The cast is actually really good otherwise with Van Der Beek, Paul Walker, Scott Caan, et al., but you can painfully tell this is an MTV movie since its tries way too hard to be cool and puts these characters in very stupid, unrealistic positions and storylines. I didn't have much of a memory of this one to begin with, and now I see why.
★★ - Didn't Like It


Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone, 1999)
WORST UNIFORMS IN SPORTS HISTORY. How can the costume designer throw the Miami Sharks in overly simple all-blacks and then design those atrocious, eye-sore uniforms for the Dallas Knights!? Okay, whatever, that's not important. This movie is fine. I'd seen it before and only remembered that the language managed to be more foul throughout than even The Last Boy Scout, but in reality, this is the harshest take on professional football we've yet seen in this marathon, and for that reason, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the most accurate. Shady doctor (James Woods) who doesn't care about long term health of his players, washed up, once great head coach (Al Pacino), aging star quarterback (Dennis Quaid), young superstar quarterback (Jamie Foxx), defensive stud (Lawrence Taylor) who will do anything to make more money, even risk his life. It's really a great cast and a great set of varied characters and Stone delicately balances everything together. And yet, I feel like this is a hard movie to love, perhaps simply because of how brutal it is. But I definitely appreciate it a great deal.
★★★ - Liked It


The Replacements (Howard Deutch, 2000)
Official Keanu Reeves Ohio State QB Power Rankings:
1. Johnny Utah (Point Break)
2. Shane Falco (The Replacements)

I dare you to challenge those rankings! So, this is another semi-guilty pleasure here too. I know it's not a great movie, I know it's overly standard and predictable and bland. But I have a lot of fun with this movie, and was glad to see it's still there with this viewing. It's silly, but this "professional" band of misfits is very likable. I think I've found that I'm all about the misfit group type movies. They work for me. Not sure I have much else to say about this one. It's very standard and predictable, but it's such a watch it on TBS type movie, that I don't really have any complaints. It's not trying to be Any Given Sunday, and that's fine.
★★★ - Liked It


Remember the Titans (Boaz Yakin, 2000)
I think cheesy schmaltz is what works best for football movies, perhaps all sports movies. This one certainly fits that bill, and it's no surprise given Disney's penchant for the style. And talk about a great cast! Denzel is everything in this movie. We even get baby Ryan Gosling and Donald Faison in bit roles. To be honest, Ryan Hurst is not great as Bertier and Hayden Panettiere is grating in so many ways, even though this is sort of what made her famous. But I want to talk about Will Patton and Wood Harris here, because they're two faces I always enjoy seeing. Patton is very one note and overall not great, but he's consistent and reliable. As for Harris, I think he's very underrated as an actor and love seeing when he pops up. He should get more roles, and I was definitely happy to see him in Creed II recently. But overall, Remember the Titans falls into the Rudy category where the film is fairly formulaic and definitely has that soft-touch style around the narrative which depicts a story through rosy lens. But it works. And it works well in my opinion. I could come back to this all the time and always be entertained.
★★★★ - Loved It


NOTE: This marathon will be shut down for the time being in order to catch up with 2018 films. I might pick it back up in February and try to finish it rather than waiting all the way until next football season. Maybe I can wrap it up before the NFL Draft in April.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: 1SO on December 06, 2018, 12:07:53 AM
The Last Boy Scout - I'm a Shane Black defender and while the script is too in love with dialogue and the daughter is a rough character to take, there's more than enough Shane Black greatness for me to have watched it several times. Like a particular murder towards the beginning of Buster Scruggs, I love the boldness of a football player with a gun. Tony Scott heightens the reality with the intense rain and his hyper-style.

Rudy - always found this to be a cute and charming movie, little more. Easy to recommend but not a keeper.

The Program - The first movie I ever worked on. Overall, I couldn't figure out what drew this cast to what read as a bland script. I had a similar experience years later with the poker film Lucky You.

Jerry Maguire - Easy to pick on with the catchphrases and the failing career of Cameron Crowe, but it's a film I sit down and watch and all that fades away because the story and characters work.

Varsity Blues - One of the first films I test screened when I moved to L.A. I thought it was terrible and was not even good enough to be released into theaters. Joke was on me when the film opened at #1.

Any Given Sunday - The Waterboy is your guilty pleasure and this is mine. I will admit to all the faults - though I had to look up the Dallas Knights - but I love the way Oliver Stone directs the football sequences. The editing and sound mix are spectacular in places, such as the way he'll drop out all the noise right before someone catches the ball and is immediately tackled by what sounds like an avalanche of boulders.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: smirnoff on December 06, 2018, 12:10:08 AM
The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991)

★★ - Didn't Like It

I know I've seen it... and I wish I could find my notes to compare to what you wrote. What you said about the opening being dark brought a lot back. I don't think of this movie with any fondness.

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Rudy (David Anspaugh, 1993)

★★★★ - Loved It

That's great. Shout out to one of Jerry Goldsmiths best compositions! Quality backdrop for a montage. It's been quite a long time for me as well, and I'm making it a priority to revisit now that you've brought it to mind.

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Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996)

★★★★ - Loved It

I wish this had been my experience. I didn't get very far into a recent revisit before I decided to turn it off. I think maybe I was just not in a movie watching mood, so I should give it another chance.

What's the over/under on Cuba being better in Radio? (https://i.imgur.com/1JRvPbT.gif)

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Varsity Blues (Brian Robbins, 1999)

★★ - Didn't Like It

I'm sure it's as bad as you say, and yet I feel somewhat duty-bound to revisit it and see for myself, since I remember enjoying it when I was like 14.

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Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone, 1999)

★★★ - Liked It

Speaking of eye-sores... any comment on the eyeball hitting the field? :))

I like a whole lot about this movie, much of which you covered. It's the only football movie that feels like it takes a real look at the life. At least the only one I can think of. I've seen it a handful of times over the years and it has settled at about the same ranking you gave it.

As coach's speeches go, this has one of the better ones imo. But as good as it is, I think Cameron Diaz takes the prize for best line delivery. It's that scene where Pacino comes over to her house and they have a back and forth, and after Pacino walks our she's still fired up and she just says "...CINECAST!in' beer!" in frustration. I ALWAYS think about that part and how she says it. It really has gotten stuck in my head.

I would love to know if the writer actually wrote that line.

Quote
Remember the Titans (Boaz Yakin, 2000)

★★★★ - Loved It

Given your Rudy-level enjoyment of this film I will try and watch this as well. Somehow I never did, despite it's good reputation.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on December 06, 2018, 07:22:28 AM
Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone, 1999)

★★★ - Liked It

Speaking of eye-sores... any comment on the eyeball hitting the field? :))

I like a whole lot about this movie, much of which you covered. It's the only football movie that feels like it takes a real look at the life. At least the only one I can think of. I've seen it a handful of times over the years and it has settled at about the same ranking you gave it.

As coach's speeches go, this has one of the better ones imo. But as good as it is, I think Cameron Diaz takes the prize for best line delivery. It's that scene where Pacino comes over to her house and they have a back and forth, and after Pacino walks our she's still fired up and she just says "...CINECAST!in' beer!" in frustration. I ALWAYS think about that part and how she says it. It really has gotten stuck in my head.

I would love to know if the writer actually wrote that line.

As to the eyeball, I think it encapsulates a lot about this movie. I mentioned that it's the harshest take, and for that reason it's probably also the most accurate. I think that's true, but I also think this movie dials up that reality to 11, and the eyeball is a good example of that. Just ridiculous. Football has some truly gruesome injuries, but a guys eye getting yanked out when they wear full helmets with facemasks? I don't know that I believe that has ever happened in the history of football, but I guess they needed a gross out moment to show how rough a game this is.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on December 06, 2018, 08:54:39 AM
The Last Boy Scout - I'm a Shane Black defender and while the script is too in love with dialogue and the daughter is a rough character to take, there's more than enough Shane Black greatness for me to have watched it several times. Like a particular murder towards the beginning of Buster Scruggs, I love the boldness of a football player with a gun. Tony Scott heightens the reality with the intense rain and his hyper-style.
This. Shane Black's dialogue paired with Tony Scott's hyper-realism made this one work perfectly for me. Not a great film, but super good and extremely watchable.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on February 26, 2019, 08:22:15 AM
(https://imgur.com/9TXWrCT.jpg)
Radio (Mike Tollin, 2003)

Entering back into the world of football films after playing some end of year catch-up with everything from 2018, and sprinting through awards season, we get to take on this film for the first time. I received some attention upon release, but was not a staple in my childhood household, as something like Remember the Titans was, but itís not dissimilar. Radio takes place in the south during the 1970s, focusing on high school football. But rather than comment on race relations and the competition on the field, Radio focuses on the ability of people to show love and compassion. What results is an overly saccharine and sentimental view of the relationship between a coach and the retarded man his players tormented.

At TL Hanna High School in South Carolina, football is king, and Coach Jones (Ed Harris) is a well respected leader on the field and in the classroom. But after he catches his players tormenting a man with mental problems who likes to walk by practice and watch, he invites him to participate with the team, considering it to be the right thing to do. As Radio (Cuba Gooding Jr.) becomes more and more welcomed, his personality really blossoms and the team and town comes to love him. But his journey is not without road bumps and detours, as not everyone thinks his involvement is best for the team.

Iím not really sure I can call this film offensive, but man is this not very good at all. Filmmaker Mike Tollin, whose other work Iíve seen some of, seems content with telling this tale at the highest of levels. There is a serious lack of detail and subtle touch which makes the film play like a highlight reel with very little context or fuel to make me connect with the characters, their struggles and even their triumphs. Conflict seems manufactured, and resolutions feel forced and inevitable. Which is a shame because this film has its heart in the right place, and being based on a true story, we can only glimpse and imagine what the real relationship between Radio and Coach Jones must have been.

Luckily, we do have the incredibly talented Ed Harris to help guide us through this mess as Coach Jones. His performance helps ground the film and give some semblance of humanity throughout this paint-by-numbers inspirational story. Cuba Gooding Jr. on the other hand, I feel a bit sorry for. I can remember a bit from the comedy Tropic Thunder, where actors are told to ďnever go full retardĒ. Well, Iím sure it was at least somewhat inspired by Gooding Jrís performance here. Not only is the performance awkward, but it doesnít really afford him much of a chance to shine, relegating him to shy looks and whispered dialogue. The rest of the supporting cast is just as bland.

If it wasnít for the core of this story, I would say this film is a complete trainwreck, but the heartstrings canít help but be naturally pulled at least somewhat by the tale, but that is of no credit to Mike Tollin and the film itself. But for that reason, itís at least passable, if not very disappointing, especially as a vehicle for both Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr., who never seemed to be able to recreate the greatness of his performance in another film included in this marathon, Jerry Maguire. If youíre casually looking for football films to watch, this one can be a pass.

★★ - Didn't Like It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on March 04, 2019, 11:56:09 AM
(https://imgur.com/sshGrB4.jpg)
Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg, 2004)

Friday Night Lights has gone through many iterations. First, it happened in reality when the 1988 Permian Panthers had a magical run in the Texas High School football season, then Buzz Bissinger released a book about it. A lot of time passed, and Peter Berg made a movie based on the tale. This movie. There then came a television series on NBC which was more liberal with the story and was a fairly successful and critically acclaimed show. Itís hard for me to really get a pulse on how the film was released, but itís always been one of my favorite football films. This marathon has uncovered many others, but I was certainly curious to see if it would hold up. Spoiler alert: it totally does.

The Permian Panthers from Odessa, a West Texas town with nothing on its mind except high school football, are expecting to ride their star running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) to the state title. Itís a championship or bust for head coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), his boosters have made as much very clear. But after Boobie experiences an unfortunate injury, the team is forced to band together behind their captains (Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Jay Hernandez, Lee Jackson) to still make the dream a reality for this football crazy town. But as just high school kids, can they bear the pressure put on them by family and friends, or will they break and be a disappointment to everyone?

What weíve seen from these football movies is a mix of character studies, comedies and full blown dramas. With Peter Bergís film, we get a mix of everything as we enter into the lives of these kids and coaches on the journey for the ďtime of their livesĒ. Itís quite eye opening to watch as townsfolk repeatedly refer to their high school football years as the best of their life. Itís all dull family life and hard work in a small town afterward. No excitement. For towns like Odessa, Iím sure thatís true, but how sad to think that your life might peak at 18, with the rest of your life predetermined. Thatís what fuels stars like Boobie Miles to making it to college ball, to get out of town.

Peter Bergís visual style somehow works wonders to the story. Extreme closeups, sudden camera movement. It manages to enhance and bring out the more frenetic and random qualities of a sport like football. I can see how some would be annoyed or put off by the style, but I thought it worked. In many ways, this feels like the better version of Varsity Blues, a film that felt rushed out and directed at an audience who just wanted to see some kids party (looking at you MTv Films). It tells a very similar story, but Bergís vision focuses on the story much more than the superficiality of high school football/lifestyle.

As for the football action, itís pretty well done and marries nicely with the aforementioned visual style. And in terms of the halftime speech, Friday Night Lights features one of the best from Billy Bob Thornton. And while he doesnít directly say it, itís pretty clear this speech gave inspiration to the ďClear Eyes, Full Heart, Canít LoseĒ mantra that the television show made famous. Itís a great speech and worth watching on its own, but as the film cressendoís to this moment near the end of the film, itís clear Berg and the cast have planted the emotional seed throughout to make this scene work. Weíre invested in these kids, in Coach Gaines, and thatís a great credit to the film.

★★★★ - Loved It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: smirnoff on March 04, 2019, 01:07:20 PM
I just looked up Derek Luke, because I wanted to see what he's been up to. I was introduced to him in Spartan which came out the same year. Can you believe he was 30 when this came out?

(https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/4O7NKIPH2qbeZmG1_RWv_SM6fWM=/0x0:1409x785/1220x813/filters:focal(622x252:846x476):format(webp)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/55701647/Screen_Shot_2017_07_13_at_1.09.20_PM.0.png)
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on March 04, 2019, 01:15:10 PM
Wow, that is hard to believe. I would buy pushing mid-20s, but 30. Wow.
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on March 04, 2019, 01:16:59 PM
(https://imgur.com/tQs6eWh.jpg)
The Longest Yard (Peter Segal, 2005)

If you look in the encyclopedia under ďSequels, UnnecessaryĒ, The Longest Yard would be one of the first examples because it is truly unnecessary. The 1974 Burt Reynolds film was a great entry into the football movie genre, but all these years later, there isnít much to add or change to make it more current or to tell a new story. Instead, I believe the 2005 version simply exists as a vehicle for Adam Sandler and his cronies to make more money by taking a good movie and making a lazy remake of it. With a worldwide box office of close to $200 million, it worked. And I myself must admit that while watching it, seeing all the laziness and warts in the production, I was still won over by the filmís story, which is rooted in that original 1974 screenplay. Itís a far cry from that film, but not nearly as bad as is likely should be.

If youíve seen the original, the plot hasnít changed. Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) is a washed up ex-star quarterback, who quickly declined after allegedly shaving points in a betting scandal. When he steals his girlfriendís car and goes for a joyride, he lands himself in a Texas prison under a football crazed warden (James Cromwell), whose guards are recruited to play in a league he hopes to win the championship in. When the warden asks Crewe for advice, he suggests they play a tune-up game before the season, which prompts the warden to force Crewe to build a team of inmates to face the guards. After assembling a rag-tag team (Nelly, Chris Rock, Michael Irvin, Terry Crews), the inmates find motivation in the opportunity to stick it to the guards who have given them a hard time over many years.

Itíd be super easy to sit here and rip this movie to shreds, as Iím sure many critics did upon its release. Adam Sandler feels like heís totally phoning it in for this performance. He could be replaced by about a million other actors to the same effect. The story so closely resembles the original that itís such an offensive cash grab. There are some glaring directorial choices which are quite amatuer. The use of ďcelebrityĒ cameos is cheap, as is much of the rest of the film. And yet, here I am, saying I somewhat enjoyed the experience. Perhaps I was in my happy mood for the day, but I was able to largely bury the glaring issues and remember how much I liked this story, and the football action that comes with it.

The ďcelebrityĒ cameos worked for me, mostly because I didnít think Michael Irvin, Brian Bosworth, et al. were that bad of actors. They actually blended in quite nicely with the rest of the cast, although perhaps that an indictment on the rest of the cast and not a compliment to the non-actors. Even leaving the story exactly the same worked for me, although again, perhaps that safest of safe choices merely worked because making any changes would have easily revealed the hack filmmaking. Okay, okay, at this point this is probably the most negative positive review Iíve ever written, but itís because I donít fully understand why it is I like this garbage heap.

Well, I do understand. Itís because the story is as good as it is, and I guess Iím a sap for it. I liked watching Nelly running around like a magical athlete (and one with zero ball control, tuck that rock away man!). I liked watching Irvinís Deacon Moss, well, Moss-ing the guards. Even some of the childish jokes worked for me, although that could be because I like way more Adam Sandler movies than most people. Whatís bizarre is how insignificant Sandler himself is in the film. What a nothing performance in a movie that works in spite of the Paul Crewe character having no charisma, nothing to root for. Perhaps the genius stroke of bringing Burt Reynolds back as Nate Scarborough this time saves the film. Burtís presence is everything over Sandler. Please donít hate me.

★★★ - Liked It
Title: Re: (American) Football
Post by: Corndog on March 04, 2019, 01:22:31 PM
That's it for football until April. Time to focus on Westerns for a month!