DVD Picks: Football Edition – by guest blogger Marcus Anderson

Special thanks to avid sports fan Marcus A. for his generous contribution in honor of Superbowl Sunday. I’ve never seen a more passionate Vikings and Twins fan, check out his extensive blogs Vikingstailgate.com and Twinnin.com blogs for your enjoyment. Here are his picks of football flicks for each genre.

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Want to start a new Super Bowl tradition? Why not make a special night out of Super Bowl Eve and rent a football movie? So “get your popcorn ready” a day early, head to the rental store (does anybody still do that?) or queue up a tale from the gridiron.  There are so many movies about football, that hard-charging American pastime, that you might not know which one to pick?

Kid-friendly:

The Game Plan (2007)
My choice for a nice wholesome parent kid football movie would have to be “The Game Plan” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.   The Rock is hilarious in this one, playing the Joe Kingman. the Big Macho QB for a championship contending football team in Boston. He loves the nightlife, fame, glory and money,  that is bestowed to him.

But then, Peyton unexpectedly steps into his life. No, it’s not the Colts QB, Peyton Manning, it’s his 8-year old daughter, who teaches what being a real leader is all about.

I like everything about this flick. It’s hilarious, unique (sans the predictable clichés at times) and pretty well acted. The Rock shows a comedic side that is really endearing, entertaining and fun. I could watch this movie several times over and still laugh. It has Elvis impersonations, locker room hi jinx, ballet, decent football scenes, lugs, oafs, and very enjoyable moments.  Even the soundtrack good, featuring a memorable father-daughter-football team montage to ELO’s  “Mr. Blue Sky.”

Comedy:

The Best of Times (1986)
I have never been a big fan of Robin Williams, but this is fun role for him. Jack Dundee was that kid in high school who dropped the pass that lost the game, and only chance for a small town to ever win a championship.  Years later, that poor schlep still agonizes over that “butterfingers”moment and decides to do something about it.  Reno Hightower (Kurt Russell) plays the long forgotten High School QB who succumbs to the pressure and returns to help Taft High School reclaim its dignity.

There are many fun scenes in this movie, including breaking up with their wives, challenging the bully to a fight, mascot antics, mud, and a Monday Night Football game between the Vikings and Falcons.  The old saying, those that don’t know history are bound to repeat it applies in a unique way to this comedy.

Drama:

Friday Night Lights (2004)
I first heard about this “project” from a fellow classmate of mine at Macalester College back in 1983-84.  His name was Peter Berg, and when he told me of his cousin’s (H.G. Bissinger’s) project, writing a book about High School football in Texas,  I thought, “That sounds interesting,  maybe I’ll read it someday.” Years later, the book was made into a movie,  AND WHAT a movie it is.

This is the best movie about football I have ever seen. It’s bullet to the bone real, and captures the essence of football as a religion with all the tragedies intertwined within.  It captures the highs of winning and lows of losing that life can offer. It’s pressure in ecstasy as family traditions, bias, and stubbornness leak into the world of high school football.

Tim McGraw deserves recognition for this role as an overbearing father, force feeding a son to play out his lost dreams. Billy Bob Thornton is the head coach of the team, delivering the best locker room speech I have ever heard in a movie. This movie is in my collection, as are all of the first 3 seasons of the NBC TV series.

The state of Texas is the most-represented state in this week’s Super Bowl with  a total of 16 players from the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints hailing from the Lone star state. Most notable of these is Drew Brees, the starting at QB for the Saints.   Back in 1996, Brees lived the Friday Night Lights, leading  Westlake (Austin) to a 16-0 and being named the Texas Class 5A MVP.

Biopic:

Jim Thorpe: All American (1951)
My all-time favorite historical athlete who I never saw play live sports, was Jim Thorpe.  He was Bo Jackson before Bo Knew anything.  A professional football and baseball player, Thorpe  also won Olympic Gold Medals  in 1912. He was called the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th Century.

This movie stars Burt Lancaster (who  later played Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham in the baseball movie “Field of Dreams”). If I could pick any sports character for Hollywood to write a new epic movie about,  it would be for the story of Jim Thorpe.  A runaway of child from an Oklahoma Indian Reservation, who became the greatest athlete in history,  (and an NFL Hall of Famer)  is a story that deserves more attention. Somebody write the script for this please!

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There are so many more football movies to recommend, but like the Super Bowl, only  a select few can make it to the finals.  If you have a Facebook account,  and want to find  out which Hollywood Football movie character you would select with a first round pick for your team, try this fun quiz.

Everyone’s a Critic: Sports Edition

In honor of Superbowl Sunday, I thought I’d enlist my friends for some of their picks of sports-related flicks, whether current or old favorites. In addition, I also receive some DVD picks of football movies that I decided to post separately due to its length. Special thanks to Corinne and Becky for their kind generosity!

The Wrestler (2008)
by Corinne Olson

I was never a big sports fan and up until this year I could have cared less about watching football. However, Brett Favre was so fun to watch I found myself watching every Viking game this year. But when I was a wee 16 or 17 years old, my dad used to take my brother and I to the All Star Wrestling matches every once and a while. I got to see people like Jessie The Body Ventura (He was actually more obnoxious then) and Adorable Adrian Adonis, Andre the Giant, Ken Patera, Wahoo McDaniel, Verne Gagne (boring), and of course Hulk Hogan when he was young. Those were the days, hey. Boy, have things changed. So I was pretty geeked when I heard about The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. Mickey Rourke plays this character named Randy “The Ram”.

It’s a very good inside look at the highs and very lows of Randy’s life as he is now past his prime. He was once a very popular celebrity in the wrestling world where he could sell out huge arenas such as Madison Square Garden. Now, with his health declining, and living in a trailer park, he tries to survive on his past celebrity by signing autographs and working part-time at a grocery store. There are some real brutal scenes of how some real hardcore matches are done and a really interesting scene on how easy it is to get steroid’s. There’s also the behind-the-scenes rituals that include hair-bleaching, tanning, wound mending. I always thought it was fake and they really never got hurt. That’s not true. The hyped fights between the two wrestlers is faked. But the blood is real and people get hurt. Mickey Rourke does such a brilliant job playing Randy that I truly felt like a fly on the wall watching this poor guys life struggle. It seemed very personal, Like, I shouldn’t be watching this. But of course I couldn’t stop.

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
by Becky ‘Prairiegirl’ Kurk
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Overview from Netflix: Quarterback Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is nearly killed in an accident when an overanxious angel takes his soul before its time. Reincarnated as a millionaire whose wife (Dyan Cannon) and secretary (Charles Grodin) have plotted his murder, Joe falls in love with environmentalist Betty Logan (Julie Christie) while leading his old football team back to the Super Bowl. This Oscar-nominated romantic fantasy marks Beatty’s directorial debut.

That being said, this is not a very deep movie–it is a pure fantasy comedy–but the film has great comedic energy, and also manages to touch the heart with its message. It is s a beautiful story wonderfully told. It keeps you smiling throughout, and laughing out loud in a good number of places. Warren Beatty’s subtle portrayal of the uncomplicated and naive Joe Pendleton is spot on. Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin as the plotting wife and personal secretary are hysterically funny.

The plot sounds strange–and it is–but the script is well-written, the characters are believable and Warren Beatty, as the star of the movie, is in his prime. Football is the big underlying theme, but is not the main focus of the movie. From beginning to end, this was a fun film. The guys will like the football metaphor and the gals will like the romance. Amazingly, it had nine Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and one win (Best Art Direction). A football fairy tale, and a classic, it stands up well to the test of time. The perfect movie to celebrate the Super Bowl with–see it!