I've decided to put together a list of the 10 greatest sports films I have ever seen (which you likely figured out by the title). It is important to note the "I have ever seen", as there are certain movies omitted that will likely irk some people (Caddyshack, Slap Shot, Field of Dreams, etc), but I haven't seen them so they can't be on the list. That's life, live with it.
There are two rules to lay out as the groundwork:
1) No two films from the same series will be included. Therefore, no Major League III: Back to Spring Training, as tempting as it is.
2) The 1988 Cincinatti Bengals NFL Yearbook is the obvious number one, but I have taken it out for fairness.
Without further ado:
Honorable Mention: Days of Thunder, Vision Quest, Rudy, Hoop Dreams, Above the Rim, Bloodsport.
The fact that Tupac is in one of these movies is outstanding, and I'd like to take a moment to recognize him as one of the underappreciated actors of the mid 90s. With a body of work including "Above the Rim", "Poetic Justice (w/ Janet Jackson)" & "Juice", you were taken away from us too soon Tupac. Poor out a little liquor for him.
On to the top 10...
10) Tin Cup
This is probably the cheesiest movie on this list, but I still find myself drawn to it every time it is on HBO / TNT / USA / TBS / WGN. Blowing the tournament to carry the water is amongst the all-time great moments in film, as well as one of the most painful. Add in a great roles by Don Johnson & Cheech Marin. This movie always gets me geared up for the U.S. Open.
9) Point Break
"100% Pure Adreneline" is the movie's tagline. Young Keanu. A peaking Swayze. Gary Busey. It may not be considered a sports movie, but very entertaining. The main character is named Johnny Utah (I must remember this to use one weekend)! Consider these quotes:
Pappas: "...last time you had a feeling I had to kill a guy, and I hate that... It looks bad on my report."
Pappas: "I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead rhino."
Johnny Utah: [to Bodhi] "You crossed the line. People trusted you and they died. You gotta' go down." (Must imagine serious Keanu face when reading this)
8) The Program
Growing up, I think this is the movie I would have most liked to see a sequel to. Think about how much was left hanging. How do the Wolves rebuild w/o Joe Kane? Does Darnell Jefferson emerge in his 2nd season? Incredible potential... the college football concept should really be a series on HBO (see ESPN's "Playmakers" for why you need HBO for this). I can't imagine better television. My favorite scenes are Kane's father hanging the beer can on the Christmas tree, and Jefferson arriving on campus (unlike his recruiting visit) to no band, no cheerleaders, no Halle Berry, just Kane and Kubiak.
7) Over the Top
Sylvester Stallone's first appearance on this list (hint), is very underappreciated. The fact that the grand prize for the arm wrestling world champions happens to be a big rig, and Lincoln Hawk (Stallone) happens to be a truck driver in need of a new truck... this is the creativity that Hollywood lacks today. Has any movie inspired more people to turn their hats around? Is this what started the backward hat craze? Also, a man also swallows a lit cigar at one point. I want to arm wrestle right now!
6) The Sandlot
I have seen this movie close to 50 times, and I still enjoy it. What kid is truly dumb enough to have no idea who Babe Ruth is? I mean, seriously, who doesn't know Babe Ruth? I also love that the fat catcher has appeared in "Boston Legal" and "Over There" in the last year. Most notably, being a dorky fat kid with big glass, Squints move on Wendy at the pool will always make me realize there's hope for all of us.
I first saw "Rounders" my freshman year of college, before the big poker craze hit. Do you realize that Edward Norton successively made "Rounders", "American History X", and "Fight Club" in a one year span? Talk about a great run as an actor. This movie has more quotes than I could possibly get into here, and the fact that Mike McD never gets back with his g/f makes it seems plausible.
4) Major League
I was lucky enough to catch the unedited version on HBO the other day, after about 10 years of catching showings on TNT / USA... I'd forgotten just how funny this movie really is. I also realized President Palmer plays Pedro Cerrano, which I didn't even realize. My favorite part of this movie has to be when Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) goes out to a fancy restaurant with Jake Taylor (Tom Berringer). Vaughn wears cutoff sleeves and a necktie, and delivers The banker" line... still gets me.
Did you know, Charlie Sheen can throw a fastball in the high 80s?
3) Pumping Iron
A documentary in the late 70s featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger (who gets high on screen wearing this awesome shirt reading "Arnold is Numero Uno"), this is a cult classic. The film is so homo-erotic it can be uncomfortable, but Arnold is pricessless in the way he mercilessly psyches out his competion for Mr. Universe. Look at these quotes:
"Franco is pretty smart, but Franco's a child, and when it comes to the day of the contest, I am his father. He comes to me for advices. So it's not that hard for me to give him the wrong advices."
"I don't have any weak points. I had weak points three years ago, but my main thing in mind is, my goal always was, to even out everything to the point... that everything is perfect. Which means if I want to increase one muscle a half inch, the rest of the body has to increase. I would never make one muscle increase or decrease, because everything fits together now, and all I have to do is get my posing routine down more perfect, which is almost impossible to do, you know. It's perfect already."
"Milk are for babies, when you get older you drink beer."
The best line I could not find, but involves Arnold taking a man into the shower, oiling him up, and asking him to pose for him...
You must see this movie!
2) Rocky Series
So much for rule #1. I couldn't single out just one of the films, and Rocky V is the only reason this is not number 1. Consider the actual scripts of Rocky I & II, the very strange beach Rocky & Appolo hugging scene & performance by Mr T. in Rocky III, and the series of training montages in Rocky Iv... I don't think any series has ever covered all the bases like the Rocky series. It is realy a shame they feel a sixth edition should be released, and I fear it will finish what Rocky V started in destroying the credibility of a great movie franchise.
1) The Karate Kid
At first glance, this looks like a complete rip off of Rocky featuring karate and a young kid from Jersey. What you are missing is the two things that make this movie great: An old Asian wise man (who at one point gets completely tanked), and the greatest villian in movie history, The Cobra Kai! I think that the Cobra Kai is the greatest group Halloween costume ever (and have never actually seen it).
Imagine walking into a bar in your gai, your hands placed on the shoulders of your commrade infront of you, screaming "Cobra Kai! Cobra Kai! Cobra Kai!" as loud as possible, with the guy who was too cool to dress up holding the boom box blaring "You're the Best". It commands respect. I just had shivers run through my entire body...