So, it seemed like a harmless topic for a column. Why not pick my top 10 movies about football and explain why I think they qualify as classics?
Well, my column didn’t even make it past the first edit before even my adviser, a 56-year-old woman who prefers college basketball, began questioning my list.
“Where’s Brian’s Song?” she asked, referring to the tear-jerker movie from 1971.
“And what about Any Given Sunday?” she demanded. “Or Friday Night Lights?”
Geez, imagine the blowback I’ll get from actual football fans. But it’s my column, so I’m going to put my list out there anyway … and wait to hear your reaction.
In compiling this list, my focus was on the movies that I think deserve to be considered classics. What are the qualifications for a “classic” movie? It seems that many people think a movie is a classic if it is:
A. older than dirt,
B. really long, and
C. remembered through generations.
But my definition of a classic movie is that it must:
A. have timeless actors in it,
B. be original, and
C. be able to be remembered throughout the years.
So here are my Top 10 Football Movies, listed by year of release:
The Longest Yard (1974, 2005): One of the first comedy football movies to come out was the original The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds in 1974. It was remade in 2005 with Adam Sandler. But if one of them is considered a classic then they both must be because they’re virtually alike in all aspects. In the newer one, Adam Sandler goes to prison and is basically forced to play football. I think this movie deserves to be considered a classic because it is an original idea; most people wouldn’t think about making a football movie about a prison team. Also, it does feature those timeless actors, and I feel it will be remembered for many years to come.
In addition to meeting all of my qualifications for being considered a classic, I really like this movie because it’s funny and interesting and it keeps your focus. (Really, I am talking about the 2005 version because I only saw the first one once, but the second one was great.)
Two Minute Warning (1976): Two Minute Warning is about a sniper who is in the football stadium, up in the rafters, and is going to go on a shooting rampage at the two-minute warning.
For most of the movie, people are trying out find out where the shooter is. Right after the two-minute warning, the shooter knows he’s surrounded by the SWAT team and security guards. The shooter then opens fire on the crowd below; many people do die, but the shooter is ultimately killed by the SWAT team.
This movie really is a unique spin on a sports movie, but do I find it a classic. It has everything a good movie needs, including suspense, action, a good plot and, of course, good actors. It stars Charlton Heston, John Cassavetes and Martin Balsam.
All the Right Moves (1983): This movie features a younger Tom Cruise, who portrays a high school football defensive back who is great at sports and academics. Cruise is seeking a scholarship to get out of his economically depressed town. The movie begins with the big game that his high school, Ampipe, loses against the undefeated Walnut Heights In the end, Cruise’s character accepts a scholarship to play football in college.
This movie offers an interesting, behind-the-scenes look and has its own point of view, and no other movie has been made quite like this one.
This movie is a good one, I think, but it doesn’t have a lot of drama. In the beginning, the game is dramatic, but after that it doesn’t really get dramatic. It does have good actors in Cruise and Craig T. Nelson, and I feel that people will remember this movie for a long time. But don’t throw the label as a classic at it just yet; I feel that this movie could be a classic.
The Best of Times (1986): The next movie that has a shot to be a classic would be The Best of Times. This is a really good film that features Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. In the movie, Jack Dundee (Williams) is a banker obsessed with the most shameful moment in his life: dropping a perfectly thrown pass in the final seconds of the 1972 high school football game between Taft and its arch rival Bakersfield. Dundee has found it impossible to forget this event. To make things worse, Dundee works for his father-in-law, The Colonel, who is Bakersfield’s biggest supporter and who reminds Dundee of the event almost daily.
Thirteen years later, Dundee coerces Reno (Russell), quarterback of the fateful game and now a financially struggling garage owner in debt to Dundee’s bank, into helping him replay the game. He convinces supporters in both towns to re-stage the game and in the process revitalizes Taft, as well as his and Reno’s marriages. The game is replayed and at the critical moment, Reno throws another perfect pass to Dundee. He catches it, of course, and Taft defeats Bakersfield.
This movie does deserve to be considered a classic. It has timeless actors and a great story, and viewers can relate to the characters and the plot on more than one level.
Rudy (1993): This is one of my favorite movies ever, and it is definitely a classic. It stars Sean Astin, Jon Favreau and Ned Beatty and is based on a true story about a small guy who really just wants to play football, but nobody gives him a chance. He ends up proving everyone wrong and plays for the University Of Notre Dame.
I feel everybody can relate to this movie in some way. Most of us can recall a time when we were told that we couldn’t do this or that because we were too small or too weak. This is just a feel-good movie.
The Waterboy (1998): This flick is truly one of Adam Sandler’s best movies, and it features great performances by Sandler, Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler. This movie is about Bobby Boucher (Sandler), a socially inept and stuttering water boy who becomes a star football player. Throughout the movie, he has to keep his mother (Bates) from learning about both his football playing and the fact that he’s dating Vicki Vallencourt. Boucher also helps the head football coach (Winkler) become a winning coach because ever since the coach’s playbook was stolen, he hasn’t been the same.
This movie is really funny, and it champions the underdogs, which is always a good thing in my book. I like to see when the team that shouldn’t win does win, or when team members pull off a miracle to win the biggest game in their careers. It reminds us that if a team is supposed to win every game, then why bother playing the game? You have to play the game to win the game.
Remember the Titans (2000): Do I really have to explain why this movie is already a classic? This movie has what a great movie needs. It has great actors, it’s original and, trust me, once you see this movie you’ll remember it forever. And those of you, who haven’t seen the movie, just get out of the country. If you haven’t seen Remember the Titans, you are un-American.
This movie is set in the South and is based on a true story about a newly appointed black football coach (Denzel Washington) and his first season after black students are admitted and allowed to play on the team.
Radio (2003): This is a good movie that will pull at your heartstrings. It tells the story of a high school football coach (Ed Harris) and the developmentally challenged young man (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) he takes under his wing.
When I first saw this film, I thought it had a good plot. But when I learned that it was a true story, it instantly made it a great movie.
We Are Marshall (2006): This is another great football movie that’s based on a true story. This movie is about how a new football coach at Marshall University tries to rebuild a team after a plane crash has killed the head coach and most of the team.
The new coach (Matthew McConaughey) has trouble finding players interested in playing football, but he does finally end up getting a team together. Throughout the movie, however, some of the players who weren’t on the plane struggle to cope with the fact that they don’t have their friends anymore.
Of course, no one seems to think the new Marshall team has much of a chance of succeeding. But in the first home game, they beat Xavier, 15-13.
This movie is by far one of the best football movies/tributes ever made, so there’s no doubt that this movie is a classic.
The Blind Side (2009): This film is based on a true story … hmm, I’m starting to see a pattern here … about how a wealthy but caring white family takes in Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized black boy, who goes on to become a great college football player and a first-round NFL draft pick. This film has great performances by Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates, and it meets every criteria of a classic movie.