This is a great time of year if you are a sports fan. Both pro and college football kickoff. The baseball playoffs will begin with the hunt for October. Before you know it, hockey and basketball season will be here. So what better way to celebrate the convergence of the sports world with a brand new ‘The 4’. This time I’m taking on two things I love. Movies and sports. I’m naming off the four best sports movies in my opinion. I’m only looking for theatrical releases with this list. Sorry fans of Brian’s Song and *61. Both are great films, but do not qualify for this list. So let’s kick things off with the first film of ‘The 4: Sports Movies’.
Only a select few excel at sports on a high level. Most of us including myself are what we would refer to as a scrub. Rudy is the scrub hero to all the people who were stuck riding the pine celebrating others achievements. Rudy is the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, a walk on at Notre Dame and after suffering through years of being pummeled on the scout team finally got his chance at glory. Some people close to the Notre Dame program have said that Hollywood embellished some of the events surrounding Rudy, but I don’t care. Rudy gets me every time. This is coming from a guy who’s more like Vince Vaughn’s character and would have been telling Rudy to settle down at practice. Never has two plays while running out the clock in a football game been more inspirational. You know every time you watch Rudy‘s climax you start chanting along with the film……..Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.
Major League (1989)
I struggled with this choice. It was between Major League and another baseball movie I love, The Bad News Bears. In the end Major League ends up being the only sports comedy to make the list. Namely because Major League is funnier than any other sports movie and is one of the few movies I’ve seen in a theater where audience members reacted as if they were at a real game. Major League made the lowly Cleveland Indians a cool team on-screen. The cast was full of characters like Tom Berenger’s beat down catcher Jake Taylor, Wesley Snipes’ Willie Mays Hayes and who could forget Charlie Sheen in one of his defining roles as Wild Thing Ricky Vaughn. But the performance that propelled Major League onto this list is by Bob Uecker. Harry Doyle is without a doubt the funniest character in Major League as the play by-play radio commentator for the Indians. Some of the best lines of the film are uttered by Uecker who was probably doing nothing more than playing himself. The real life underdog Uecker showed once again why he’s a National Treasure behind the microphone.
Hoosiers captures so many aspects of sports and the lives that are impacted by the games that are played. A strong-willed coach (Gene Hackman) looking for a second chance breaks down his players only to build them back up to state champions. A small town that lives and dies by the way of its beloved Hickory Huskers. An Oscar nominated drunk Dennis Hopper steals the show. Even team mascot and benchwarmer Ollie gets his moment on-screen. Hoosiers is full of so many great moments and life lessons. The Jerry Goldsmith’s music that was present during the musical game montages and was nominated for an Oscar. Hoosiers also has the creepiest sports hero ever in the form of Jimmy Chitwood. Jimmy lurks around in the shadows, speaks to no one and has the same soulless expression on his face the whole movie. I guarantee you if there was ever a Hoosiers 2 you would find out the beloved basketball hero was a serial killer.
The Karate Kid (1984)
This is the out of the box pick. Many people sent me suggestions for the ‘The 4: Sports Movies’ that weren’t your traditional sports films. The Color of Money, Days of Thunder, Cool Runnings and Searching for Bobby Fischer were suggestions made. I do love all those films mentioned, but if I’m going to do this, it’s going to be my way. The Karate Kid is one of the best sports movies that doesn’t show up on any lists. Everyone remembers the unique training Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) was given courtesy of Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita in his Oscar nominated role). Sand the floor, paint the fence and wax on/wax off were simple ways to teach the student patience, discipline and defense against the rival Cobra Kais. The Karate Kid was also one of the first films to delve into the philosophy of balance in life and its correlation with success on the field. The film also instituted the phrase “Sweep the Leg” into the American vernacular. Even though most of you have seen The Karate Kid hundreds of times, I’m sure you still get goose bumps when the boy from Reseda raises his body into the crane kick position in the final match of the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament.
So what four films do you think should be named the best sports movies? Let me know on Twitter @CW44CouchPotato or become a fan at Facebook.com/CW44CouchPotato. And yes, I do realize I left Rocky off this list!