Author Topic: (American) Football  (Read 2477 times)

Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #60 on: August 08, 2018, 08:57:51 AM »
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
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

MartinTeller

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #61 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.
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Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #62 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.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #63 on: August 14, 2018, 02:09:51 PM »
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
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #64 on: August 27, 2018, 02:38:03 PM »
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
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

smirnoff

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #65 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?

Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #66 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.
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Corndog

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #67 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 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.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

1SO

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #68 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.
Must See  |  Should See  |  Good  |  Mixed  |  Bad

smirnoff

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Re: (American) Football
« Reply #69 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?

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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.

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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.