RANKINGS: Top 5 movies about football
It may still be 110 degrees outside, but football season is just around the corner. Although we are a long way from playoff fever, this is still an exciting time to get in the spirit of things by watching a few gridiron movies. Here are a few of my favorites (all of which I have seen multiple times):
1. Jerry Maguire (1996)
OK, I am a die-hard Arizona Cardinals fan, so I am a little biased. But this Cameron Crowe directed effort is solid entertainment from start to finish. There is a lot of good dialogue and interaction among Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Renee Zellweger, yielding some iconic one-liners, including “show me the money” and “you had me at hello.”
2. Remember the Titans (2000)
Based on a true story about a 1971 high school football team in Virginia, this movie got mixed reviews from the critics, some of whom felt the treatment of that era’s school integration issue was bland and superficial. The movie has remained very popular with audiences, though. Denzel Washington and Will Patton are engaging as the two coaches, and the movie has a warm sentimentality.
3. Rudy (1993)
Another true story based on the life of Rudy Ruettiger and his dream of playing football for Notre Dame. Uplifting and inspirational, this is the kind of movie where you come out of the theater remembering why you go in the first place. Good performances by Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty, and Charles Dutton, as well as a very nice score by Jerry Goldsmith.
4. The Longest Yard (1974)
An oldie, but goody about a former football star sent to prison and how he organizes a game between the convicts and guards. Burt Reynolds looks like he had a lot of fun making this one. I prefer the original to the 2005 Adam Sandler remake.
5. Brian’s Song (1971 TV movie)
My other rooting interest is the Chicago Bears, and I grew up watching Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo on TV. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan turn in sincere and heartfelt performances, displaying the strong friendship between the two men on and off the field. This movie is in the Old Yeller category, i.e. you are not coming out of it with a dry eye.
Honorable mention: Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
I actually like the movie very much, and it is a good early career vehicle for Keira Knightley, but we are talking about American Football.
(Dis)honorable mention: The Last Boy Scout (1991)
This movie is vulgar, violent, and misogynistic, so I am a little embarrassed to say that whenever I see it showing on cable, I watch it again. But, hey, Tony Scott directed and Bruce Willis was in his sarcastic Die Hard heyday. Plus, Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars, so there’s that.
There are obviously many other great football films, including North Dallas Forty, Friday Night Lights, Varsity Blues, We Are Marshall, The Blind Side, etc. I look forward to catching as many as I can over the next few months (as long as it is not on Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday night, or Thursday night). It’s a terrific way to stay in the mood, at least until February when the Cardinals finally win their first Super Bowl!