Author Topic: (American) Football  (Read 3134 times)

1SO

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Re: Football
« Reply #40 on: January 23, 2018, 03:41:52 PM »
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smirnoff

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Re: Football
« Reply #41 on: January 23, 2018, 08:07:30 PM »

Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #42 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.
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1SO

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Re: Football
« Reply #43 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.
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Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2018, 07:57:29 AM »
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
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 08:00:36 AM by Corndog »
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Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2018, 01:24:33 PM »
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
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smirnoff

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Re: Football
« Reply #46 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.

Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #47 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.
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smirnoff

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Re: Football
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2018, 03:30:27 PM »
Eh, interesting. I guess just a bit of a coincidence then.

Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #49 on: February 05, 2018, 12:26:07 PM »
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.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."