January 23, 1998 in Seven

Get In Mood For The Big Game

Dave Kelley Correspondent
 

FOR THE RECORD: 1-24-98

Injury incorrect: In the movie “Brian’s Song,” Chicago Bears player Gale Sayers fights back from a traumatic knee injury. A story in Friday’s Weekend entertainment section said otherwise.

Videos

The most highly publicized and glorified sporting event in this country looms dead ahead.

The Super Bowl.

From the most casual observer to the rabid armchair quarterback, few can ignore the typhoon of hype that blows ahead of this money-making machine. Whether it’s to see if the Denver Broncos will lose their fifth Super Bowl, to gander at the Packer’s cheerleading squad or to observe the biggest retailers launching their multi-million dollar ad campaigns, America will be watching.

But what then?

When the time runs out and the sports heroes return to hawking shaving paraphernalia and to their golf games, how is the hardened football fan supposed to adjust to life without his or her favorite sport?

Turn to cinematic offerings of gridiron glory, that’s how. Help is just a single “play” away. Following are some suggestions to get your viewing off the line of scrimmage:

Football is a serious game

For the chosen few, football is a way of life. But it’s not always glorious off the field. One of the best (and funniest) insider films is “North Dallas Forty” (1979) starring Nick Nolte as a player tackling football’s labor disputes.

For some hard-nosed action, do time with “The Longest Yard” (1974) starring Burt Reynolds. In classic form as the locked-down former pro quarterback, Reynolds organizes a game of the prisoners against the guards.

If you want to have a tough-guy contest, watch “Brian’s Song” (1970) or “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and see who can hold back the waterworks. “Brian’s Song” is the true-life story of Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo (James Caan) who fights back from a traumatic knee injury only to be stricken with cancer. And “Jerry Maguire” is the cautionary tale of a sports agent (Tom Cruise) who suddenly gains a conscious and loses all his clients but one.

The unique thriller “Black Sunday” (1977) deals with terrorists who try to detonate a blimp-sized nail bomb over the Super Bowl in Miami. This film was written by Thomas Harris (“Silence of the Lambs”). For some brutal action, try the postapocalyptic ” Blood of Heroes” (1990) in which the ol’ pigskin and end zone are replaced with a dog’s skull and a stick and injured players fight amid broken bones.

“The Wanderers” (1979), is not really a football movie as much as a coming-of-age story. But it deserves mention because it has one of the most amazing knock-down, drag-out football/fight scenes ever depicted in American cinema.

Football is a silly game

One of the best films for exploring the lighter side of football’s follies is “Wildcats” (1986). It stars Goldie Hawn as a high school P.E. instructor who agrees to coach the worst inner-city team in town. The film may be predictable, but it contains some classic Goldie comedy, and the first pairing of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.

Another landmark comedy is the hilarious “Horse Feathers” (1932) starring the Marx brothers doing some of their legendary routines while trying to “fix” a college football season. Truly one of their best.

For some locker room humor, strap on “Semi-Tough” (1977) starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson as two professional pranksters who share the same girlfriend.

For some Texas-sized comedy there’s “Necessary Roughness” (1991) about the Texas State Armadillos’ struggle to win a single game, led by Scott Bakula and the uniquely unfunny Sinbad.

And for the kids there’s “Gus” (1976), a silly little Disney film about a mule who kicks field goals. But the real laughs kick-in when Gus is kidnapped by jealous rivals, starring Tim Conway and master thespian Dick Van Patton.

Go team!

Another reoccurring theme in football movies (and most sports films in general) is teens blinded by the allure of fame. Being recruited by colleges and then drafted by the pros has been a dream of thousands of adolescent boys, athletically gifted or not.

The adolescent dream was intelligently addressed in “Rudy” (1993). A young lad’s determination to join the Fightin’ Irish of Notre Dame becomes instrumental in positively motivating the entire team. Directed and written by the same team that did “Hoosiers” (1986), “Rudy” also includes lots of “Knute Rockne, All American” (1940) quotes, another fine film starring Ronald Reagan.

“All the Right Moves” (1983) follows Tom Cruise as the high school hothead in his quest to escape a dismal Pennsylvania town by being recruited. Once signed you’ll enter “The Program” (1993) and have to deal with the intense pressures of the college athletic experience. A grueling survival of the fittest ensues as all players try to make it to the next level.

“The Best of Times”(1986) deals with someone who returns to his hometown. Key roles are played by Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, who are never able to live down losing their high school championship. So they organize a rematch. Far from either actor’s best, it’s still a mildly amusing time-waster.

So there you go sports fan - these films should keep you busy until World League football play starts.

ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW

Now available: “No Way Home,” “Don’t Sleep Alone,” “Teach Me,” “My Magic Dog,” “Cafe Society,” “Broken English,” “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Game,” “Nothing to Lose,” “The Prophecy II.”

Available Tuesday: “Hollow Reed,” “True Women,” “Kull the Conqueror,” ‘Baby Face Nelson,” “Julian Po,” “City of Industry,” “8 Heads in a Duffle Bag,” “Event Horizon,” “Executive Target,” “George Wallace,” “Brassed Off,” “Star Maps.”

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Now available: “No Way Home,” “Don’t Sleep Alone,” “Teach Me,” “My Magic Dog,” “Cafe Society,” “Broken English,” “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Game,” “Nothing to Lose,” “The Prophecy II.”

Available Tuesday: “Hollow Reed,” “True Women,” “Kull the Conqueror,” ‘Baby Face Nelson,” “Julian Po,” “City of Industry,” “8 Heads in a Duffle Bag,” “Event Horizon,” “Executive Target,” “George Wallace,” “Brassed Off,” “Star Maps.”


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