There’s no denying that football is a physically demanding activity that lends itself nicely to dramatic depictions on the big screen. As the saying goes, “If you can’t say something nice…” then don’t say anything at all. Every kind of football film imaginable is represented here, from the classic comedy to the tearjerkers. There’s something here for everyone, from the most devoted fan to the complete newcomer.
1. The Longest Yard (1993)
A nasty prison warden hires a former pro quarterback to put together a football squad to challenge the guards in this updated version of Robert Aldrich’s 1974 crime comedy. The film’s leads have great chemistry, and Peter Segal does a fine job at the helm. Despite a few stumbles, the gnula movie is mostly entertaining.
2. The Replacements (1987)
The Minneapolis band the Replacements released three instant classic albums in quick succession: 1984’s “Let It Be,” 1985’s “Tim,” and 1987’s “Pleased to Meet Me.” Many groups in the ’80s and ’90s took cues from the band’s ability to blend cerebral punk music with emotionally resonant lyrics. Their humorous side is on full display in tracks like the lighthearted “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” and the clever allusions to the Ramones’ classic “Cruella De Vil.”
3. Invincible (1995)
The life of Vince Papale, a man with nothing to lose except his desire, served as inspiration for the film Invincible. When the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach staged an unusual open audition in 1976, only Papale remained. Mark Wahlberg is fantastic in the role of Papale. He also brings the spirit of Papale to life, which makes the picture more credible.
4. North Dallas Forty (2008)
North Dallas Forty is a searing critique of professional football and one of Ted Kotcheff’s finest works. It’s depressing to see how owners and coaches utilize players as pawns, and it ruins the game for fans. Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Phil Elliott (Nick Nolte) is a free spirit who doesn’t want to follow the rules. Nolte gives a fantastic performance, and Mac Davis is a good pick as quarterback Seth Maxwell.
5. The Game (2011)
The Game is a fascinating adventure, despite a few minor flaws. The greatest thing is that it’s packed with crazy characters that will keep you guessing until the very end. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most astounding shows of ingenuity I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame that we don’t have access to it here. I pray it won’t be too long until the folks in North America can get their hands on this fantastic gadget.
6. The Greatest Game Ever Played (1999)
The Greatest Game Ever Played is a film about Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old golfer who shocked the world by beating Harry Vardon, the defending US Open champion from 1900. The film, adapted from Mark Frost’s book published in 2002, is an engaging and touching account of the early days of modern golf. It’s a feel-good film that every sports fan should see. It’s also not terrible for watching with the kids.
7. The Game of Their Lives (1993)
Bringing a video game to the big screen is never an easy task. Yet, there is the potential for great enjoyment. In their edgy, dystopian 1993 film, Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel reimagine the Mario franchise’s characters and motifs. The film isn’t great, but it does have its fascinating moments. The production had a lot of problems. It took far longer than the planned 10 weeks to film and much more money.
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