Monday, September 1, 2014

My Football Movie Checklist....

It's that time of year again and I am excited. American Football is upon us. I am more partial to NCAA football than I am the NFL, but I love watching both. Since the first week in September hardly has any new movies coming out due to the summer season ending, I thought I would make up a checklist of movies about football. All of the films I name are either available through the Salt Lake County Library on available on Netflix if you have a subscription to Netflix. Let's get started...

Rudy        Rated: PG for language and mild violence

Rudy is about a young man who loves football and dreams of playing for Notre Dame. However he is very small, and in order to play for Notre Dame, he also needs to be a student. The film follows the struggles and triumphs that Rudy has to go through. This is one of my all time favorite movies about football. It's very inspiring and has a very pretty soundtrack.  Rudy is directed by David Anspaugh and written by Angelo Pizzo who are the same team that  brought us the very awesome movie, Hoosiers. Rudy is based on a true story.

Remember the Titans      Rated: PG for mild violence and racial themes

Remember the Titans is also based on a true story. It is about a newly integrated high school football team that struggles with the issues of race. The whole town is upset with the hiring of coach Herman Boone, an African American coach. Everything seems to fall apart, the members of the team are at each others throats about race and losing certain players to make the best team possible and the towns people are threatening and trying to coax the new football coach out of his job. However, with a strong attitude, both mentally and physically, things start to turn around. 

Friday Night Lights      Rated: PG-13   for language, violence, teen partying and alcohol and drug use

Staying to the track of films that were brought about by a true story, Friday Night Lights is probably the most realistic since it follows the book of the same name very well. A reporter from New York heard about how crazy Texans like high school football. He moved to Odessa, Texas  where he witnessed the whole season of the Permian High Panthers. The players were treated like royalty. They had cheerleaders and pep squad girls that would follow a player around and wait on them hand and foot. The town is in an uproar when the newly appointed coach loses a game to start off the season. Can they make it to the champions ship game, or not. There was also a TV show that was called Friday Night Lights, and it was the exact same thing, except with a fictional town, but still set in Texas. The show ran for five seasons. It was a great show. I believe it is still on Netflix. It does a great job and keeping the same intensity from the town as the original story did.

The Blind Side     Rated: PG-13    for one scene of violence, drug and sexual references

Guess what?  Another true story coming at you. The Blind Side tells the true story of Michael Oher. He didn't know who his father really was. His mom was a drug addict and Michael had family members or people in his ghetto neighborhood who were gang members and drug dealers. He was homeless until a wonderful woman and her family took him in and helped him with school, but also helped him by putting him on the football team. Michael didn't really have experience, but he was a natural talent. He is then sought after for colleges putting their new rosters together, and eventually to the NFL draft.  The Blind Side is an incredible film. Sandra Bullock who plays Leigh Ann Touhy, the woman who took Michael in, and was honored with an Oscar for the best performance in a female lead role. This movie is very touching.

Brian's Song    Rated: G            Contains some racial themes

I am sensing a pattern here. Brian's Song is a true story about a football player named Brian Piccolo and his relationship with his friend, Gale Sayers. Piccolo and Sayers were the first players in the NFL who were assigned to be roommates where one was white and the other African American. Their relationship grows into a strong bond of friendship, but that isn't the only thing that is growing. Brian Piccolo develops cancer and fights through it with Gale Sayers. This one is one of my all-time favorite movies about football. There are actually two versions of Brian's Song. The one I am referring to is the 1971 version with James Caan and Billie Dee Williams.

A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story        Not Rated,  but most likely a G or very low PG rating. Thematic Issues.

If Brian's Song doesn't succeed at tugging your heart strings, this one will. Another true story,  Ricky Bell, a pro football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an education in speech therapy is assigned to visit and work with a boy by the name of Ryan Blankenship who has some handicaps. Ryan's family works at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium, which makes Ryan even more excited to meet Ricky Bell, since he is Ryan's favorite player. They end up forming a bond to each other. Ricky starts spending time with Ryan's family and uses his teammates to do things to help Ryan out. However, when Ricky Bell gets traded to the San Diego Chargers, things start to get more complicated, Ricky Bell who Ryan looked up to so much, turns the tables and it is Ryan who Ricky Bell looks up to for courage and strength. This was a made for TV movie, but it is my favorite movie dealing with football. It is available on Netflix, or  if you look it up on the Internet Movie Data Base,, and it will let you stream the film from there, so it is completely free if you have an internet connection. Remember to have a box of tissues handy for this one. I have seen it quite a few times, and no matter how hard I try, I can't up but tear up.

Invincible       Rated: PG for sports action and some language

This is the true story, surprise surprise, of Vince Papale, who is a 30 year old bartender in Philadelphia who goes to open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team and against all odds, ends up making the team. Mark Wahlberg plays Vince, Greg Kinnear plays Coach Dick Vermeil, and Elizabeth Banks plays Janet Cantrell who plays Vince's love interest.

We Are Marshall             Rated: PG for thematic elements and some language and brief violence

We Are Marshall is yet again another true story about the Marshall University football team who loses quite a few players and fans due to a plane crash. The story follows Coach Jack Lengyel and his remaining player and their struggles to keep the football program alive for the rest of the season. Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox are great in their roles as the coaches for Marshall. I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

The Freshman           Not Rated as it was released in 1925   Nothing Offensive.

Finally a film about football that isn't a true story. The Freshman is my favorite silent film. It start Harold Lloyd as a young man heading off to college. He has dreams of becoming the best man on campus, but his quirks and awkwardness get in the way in a hilarious way. He wants to be captain of the football team, even though he is super scrawny, just so that he can copy other student's paths at becoming popular. What he doesn't know and realize is that the boarding house he is staying at is being ran by a girl and her mother. The girl falls in love with Harold Lloyd and is secretly cheering him on, while at the same time loving him for who he is and not his status. He makes the team as a tackling dummy, but in the final, most important game of the season, injuries start to mount up and in order to not forfeit , the coach reluctantly sends Harold out to play. The results are hilarious, but also follow the real football rules at the time. This film is absolutely a joy to watch. All of the comedy and word play are still popular today. This has my favorite silent film caption. The title card reads:  Tate University - A large football stadium, with a college attached. Sounds like schools from the Big Ten conference today.

When the Game Stands Tall                  Rated: PG  for football action.

I reviewed this film last week. Just a quick recap, a true story, a high school football team has the longest winning streak in all of football history. They come into a season and loose two games, but are determined to beat a team who is next to impossible to beat. They work hard to get to the game and even make it to the state championship. There are lots of motivational speeches in this film. Maybe a few too many, but the heart is there. There isn't one swear word to be heard. It makes a great family film. It is in theaters right now.

Well that just about wraps it up for this checklist. Here are a few other films that I didn't go into detail about that you might enjoy.

The Waterboy,  The Longest Yard (the 2005 version), The Express, Necessary Roughness, and Jerry Maguire,

I hope this article has been fun to read and I hope that I have inspired you to watch a few of these films.

If you have other football movies that you like and enjoy, be sure to let me know via the comments or email.

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