Gridiron and other sports films
During the off-season I often revisit and update feature screens on BUCPOWER.COM and one of those involved the reviews of gridiron-related films. To help pass the days between labour dispute stories and no real Buccaneer news, I will feature each of the main 12 on the site but which was the best?
I will resort to an old and trusted formula here in picking the best film in different categories. It works for baseball so why not football too?
For sheer realism and NFL stories, you start, finish and end with Any Given Sunday. This ranks in my top five films of all-time (Top Gun, Shawshank Redemption, South Park and Four Weddings and a Funeral if you really want to know) and if I ever see it on Sky, I really am forced to watch it to its conclusion.
The original story was written by former Buc Pat Toomay who has a cameo in the film, but the multiple topics and threads within the film are all based on true NFL events. At the risk of blowing more smoke up Olver Stone's ass, it is a superb piece of work.
For good humour, go to The Replacements, the story of a strike football team starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. They have taken some serious liberties with the story but it is funny and uplifting all the same.
College football fans can enjoy the Program and high school fans have Friday Night Lights and Remember the Titans. The Longest Yard/Mean Machine (both incarnations) are very good too and Invincible is the true story of former Eagle special teamer Vince Papale.
Buccaneer fans have one film dedicated to their team, the made-for-TV Triumph of the Heart, the tragic story of Ricky Bell.
And then you have the most recent addition to the ranks, The Blind Side, the story of Michael Oher with Sandra Bullock. It is based on a true story of course although a few Hollywood amendments have been made but this is a film that both my wife and daughter really enjoyed so is one for the whole family.
And then you have the Waterboy - which is just truly crap. If you think Mark Kermode on 5Live had a rant about Pirates of the Caribbean, then you should see me start on Waterboy. It is to films what Michael Clayton is to receiving, Kenyatta Walker is to playing tackle and Dave Warnke is to Buccaneer kicking.
For baseball, and I had this conversation over a few beers with Mike Carlson once, the best film for families is Field of Dreams (even if it is about turning a cheat into a hero), the funniest is Major League, the most historically accurate is Eight Men Out, and the best for true baseball fans is Bull Durham.
But I rate above all of them For Love of the Game with Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston. It is just magnificent from start to finish. And Dennis Quaid's true story of Rays' pitcher Jim Morris in The Rookie is really good too - I defy you not to cry at the scene where he finally makes the major leagues.
In other sports, hockey has the superbly-funny Slapshot, the less said about Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore the better, and I do remember seeing Hoop Dreams once on BBC2. I despise boxing so have never seen any of the films from that sport and I will pass on Black ball, the recent film about crown green bowling. The forthcoming releases about the life of Ayrton Senna and the film on the great West Indian cricket teams of the 1970s will make good future viewing.
You've been great, enjoy Five Star.