The staff of AiPT! talk about their favorite football movies.
AiPT! may focus on the latest pop culture and entertainment but it doesn’t mean we don’t have know what’s happening in the sports world. And since college football has already started and the NFL is just around to kickoff its season, some of the staff here got together to talk about their favorite football movie memories.
What is your favorite football movie of all time?Brian Clements: I think that The Replacements is the perfect football movie. Gene Hackman as the gruff coach who wants to do things his way, Jon Favreau as the violent ex-cop who just wants to please his team through near-homicide on the field, cheers of “nan desu ka,” and Keanu Reeves playing Keanu Reeves. Like, what if Johnny Utah hadn’t become an FBI agent, but got one final chance in the NFL? It introduced us to Orlando Jones, the ASL sign for “a-----e,” and featured one of the greatest comeback stories in fictional football history. Screw you, Rudy.
David Brooke: I’m going to go with Friday Night Lights which was so good it spawned a fantastic TV show. It gets at the core of being young and having hopes and dreams for your future in a game that is merciless.
Jason Segarra: Brian stole my answer, so I’ll pick the next best option: Little Giants. After scoring 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High, Al Bundy decided to settle into a coaching position for a championship peewee football team. Unfortunately, much like every character Ed O’Neil plays, dude’s kind of a douche. As such, it’s up to his nerdy brother (Rick Moranis) to cull together a ragtag group of misfits, including a G-g-g-g-girl to fend off the much stronger, more organized team of bullies and actual child athletes. Yeah, it’s a more family friendly version of the Bad News Bears, The Sandlot, The Mighty Ducks, Big Green….basically every child-centric sports movie that doesn’t center around an animal…and even some that do. Still, Little Giants is great fun and taught me everything I know about football. That’s right, every Super Bowl party I’ve ever been to has had me calling out for the Annexation of Puerto Rico!
Davis Pittman: My personal favorite in this genre is one that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot. I know it has its flaws, but I can’t help loving it. That movie is Varsity Blues. There are certainly other really good football movies, but I just love the cast and their characters here, plus I think it’s a fun entertaining coming of age story.
Justin Cohen: Mine is also The Replacements, but like Jason I’ll pick my next best option to keep things interesting: The Waterboy. This was during Adam Sandler’s peak era, right after Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. I remember seeing it with my dad at the movie theater and it’s one of the best times we’ve had at the movies together. Of course it’s stupid, but it’s hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of Sandler’s Bobby Boucher. The rest of the cast is great in their roles too, from Henry Winkler as Coach Klein, Kathy Bates as Bobby’s mama, Rob Schneider as the crazy townie, and of course the Sandler regulars. Plus there’s Bobby’s love interest Vicki Vallencourt, continuing the double V names in Sandler films (that Veronica Vaughn…).
What is the most underrated football movie of all time?
Dave: Remember the Titans was a fantastic film and yet I feel like it has been forgotten. A great film that shows how sports can bring us together.
Brian: The 2005 remake of The Longest Yard is one of the most ridiculous and fun football movies that constantly plays on TNT or wherever. It might be Adam Sandler’s finest performance where he isn’t a worthless man-child and the cast is insane. There are 3 WWE Hall of Famers on the cast, one drops the N-word, one cries about his nipples hurting, and the other is implied to have an enormous…pass rusher. Hell, the Great Khali, Nelly, Brian Bosworth, and a cadre of former NFL players and general tough guys round out the supporting cast. Oh, and Courtney Cox. And it’s a great football movie on top of all the insanity.
Jason: This is another one where I would say The Replacements (easily in my top 5 Keanu movies) but to keep things interesting, I’ll throw out Necessary Roughness, a sleeper hit wherein Scott Bakula (already approaching 40 at this point in his life) laces up the cleats to play college football as a walk-on freshman quarterback for Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos. The movie is notable for having fun turns from Sinbad as a sophomore tight end, Larry Miller as the crusty old dean, and an actually enjoyable run from Rob Schneider as the home announcer for the Armadillos. It’s not anything amazing or original, but it’s kind of a hidden gem, in that it’s a B/B- movie in a genre full of C students and no one ever talks about it.
Davis Pittman: I never understood why Radio was disliked by so many. I think that’s for sure one of the most underrated football films ever. It tells a beautiful story and is wonderfully acted by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris. I think it’s one of those sports films where you feel so good after watching it because of the inspirational (true) story.
Justin: I have to say The Replacements here. Not only is it my favorite, it definitely is underrated. You always hear people talk about Rudy, Friday Night Lights, Little Giants. The Replacements is SO good and in my opinion, so much more enjoyable than those films. Brian already laid it out very well, but how can you not love the amazing cast lead by the one and only Keanu Reeves aka Johnny Utah aka Neo!? It deserves more praise and recognition in the football movie realm.
Football movies tend to fall into one of two categories: 1) Silly and about having a good time; 2) Gritty movies that expose the seedy underbelly of sports. Which do you prefer?
Dave: I kind of think there’s a third options which is coming of age stories or those that inspire us to be better. Rudy, The Blind Side, and Remember the Titans all fall into that category. I’d prefer this type since they capture something about the human spirit that only sports can draw out.
Brian: I generally prefer the silly, if you couldn’t tell from my previous answers. There is enough of the seedy underbelly in actual sports right in our faces, why would anyone prefer that in entertainment? I also agree about “coming of age” or “overcoming the odds” films, but they are one-and-done for me. I was an extra for two straight weeks in We Are Marshall and I was sick of it before the movie even came out.
Jason: I go to the movies to escape from my day-to-day life. I have enough hardships and grueling experiences as a guy who occasionally reviews movies, games and comics on the internet, so I prefer silly movies to serious ones in practically every genre. I don’t need a two hour musing of the hardships faced by millionaire athletes giving themselves concussions to entertain the masses. Let me see Adam Sandler powerbombing a running back for insulting his mama instead.Davis Pittman: That’s tough to answer because I love a movie like Varsity Blues, but then something more serious, if done well, is great too. I tend to prefer the more silly/good time though when it comes to sports films, probably because I’m not a sports person.
Justin: I prefer the silly ones that are mostly about having a good time. I’m not against the other type by any means, but the lighter ones tend to be more memorable and much more rewatchable for me.
YouTube is filled with videos about the greatest plays in football history. What is the greatest play in football movie history?
Dave: For me it was the ending in Jerry Maguire. His catch meant everything and it all lead to that. Great play!
Brian: Jonny Rico’s final play against his bitter rival Zander Barcalow in Starship Troopers. Despite the indoor gym, arena football setting, a co-ed football game that involves magic flipping and a metallic ball wins it every time for me. C’mon you apes! You wanna live forever?!Jason: I’m genuinely impressed that Brian trotted out the Flip-6 3-Hole from Starship Troopers. Total classic. Mine isn’t a specific play, but it’s every time in a football movie where the star running back says some permutation of “Just throw me the damn ball!” It happens in literally every football movie – s--t, it even happens in the aforementioned Starship Troopers.
Justin: This is one where I have to go with the same answer as Dave. The ending of Jerry Maguire takes the cake for me. Epic scene!!
The start of every NFL season also brings the conversation of whether Tom Brady is the Greatest of all Time. In regards to football movies, who is the GOAT?
Dave: I’ll go with Jamie Foxx from Any Given Sunday. His character Willie Beamen had just the right ego, and a lot of talent, to be the best.
Jason: I mean the obvious answer is the best running back to ever come out of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, one Forrest Gump. That dude posted a 90 yard return in the one play we see him make, is laser focussed (to a fault one might say) and has enough in the bank to keep a struggling franchise afloat for a while thanks to his early investment in Apple. He’s not the most rounded player, but I can’t pick Shane Falco and The Replacements in every one of these.
Justin: I’m going with Shane Falco. Have to. Falco is an incredible quarterback who struggled after he choked during a huge game and now has to prove to the people and most importantly to himself that he can overcome that game from long ago. It’s a perfect underdog story. And Keanu always wins for me.