ESPN’s Bill Simon has written a pretty good lament about sports movies having shifted from “rewatchably good” to “predictably good.”
“Sports movies fill a void created by the real sports world. So many times we are disappointed by a game, a player, a team, a playoffs. But with rewatchably good sports movies, we’re always in control. Louden Swain is always going to pin Shute. The Good Nazi will always stand up after Pele nails that bicycle kick. Carl Spackler’s ‘Cinderella story’ will always be funny. Roy Hobbs‘ final homer will always shatter the lights. And Costner’s wimpy brother will always beat the Cannibal by one second as Costner cheers him on with a porn mustache.
“But the industry has dipped so far that I’ll let a movie slide if only a piece of it is worth watching. You need to pop two Dramamine to watch most of Any Given Sunday, but I’ll always stick it out long enough to see Steamin’ Willie Beamen and Pacino’s locker room speech. That’s how easy I am. You can reel me in with one quality character, a few football scenes and a single goose-bumps speech. Doesn’t take much. And say what you want about Sunday, but at least it takes chances.
“I blame Remember the Titans for this trend; after it earned a surprising $114 million, inspirational, semisappy, ‘based on a true story” copycats like Miracle, We Are Marshall, Pride, Coach Carter, Radio, Gridiron Gang, The Rookie and Invincible quickly followed. I enjoyed each of those flicks to varying degrees, but whenever they pop up on cable, I’ve already got the remote in hand.
“Same for slapstick farces (Dodgeball, The Benchwarmers, any Ferrell movie); inexplicable remakes like Bad News Bears, Rollerball and The Longest Yard; and any of the pseudo remakes — and that ‘based on true events’ thing doesn’t get them a pass in my book — in which a white cast is exchanged for a black cast (like in Glory Road and Hard Ball).”