Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. For three hours, the biggest, unofficial American holiday will stop the world in its tracks one more time. A lot of people watch the game for the commercials, others for the game itself and others for the food and camaraderie. I, for one, enjoy the whole experience. I love sports and football is my favorite.
But not everyone likes football or sports for that matter. So what to do while the event is in full swing? Of course, there are options like having a picnic in the park, reading your favorite book or spending the whole afternoon writing your next Moviepilot article.
But if you are interested in why this sport is so popular and wanted to understand that friend that transforms into a completely different person while watching a dude carrying a ball across a horizontal field, worry not, I have you covered, my dear reader. After all, we might have different opinions about what sports mean but we all are passionate about film. I may not be able to convince you at all to change your opinion regarding football but I hope I can provide you with a different perspective and give you a reference on which you can rely upon while watching a football movie.
For instance, the picture I chose for my title comes from the movie Black Sunday and is about an attempted terrorist attack at the Super Bowl venue.
If you are interested in disaster films, drama / thriller or watching a young Bruce Dern, this movie is for you.
I want to share with you five football films that could give you a different point of view about the sport or simply to watch a football movie instead of the game itself and still be part of Super Sunday.
* Warning: Some of the clips I included have violence, strong language and might contain spoilers *
5. Any Given Sunday (1999)
Any Given Sunday is Oliver Stone attempting to make a war movie with professional football as the setting. It is a violent attack to your senses, it is full of despicable characters and it tempts you with a front row seat so you can watch the center of the battlefield that is professional football. It gives you a glimpse into the glory, pain, excess, danger and reward that football has to offer; that is, if you are willing to pay the price of becoming a professional athlete.
The premise seems pretty straightforward but this being a Oliver Stone film, expect to see different layers that include race, media sensationalism, morality and loyalty. It criticizes not only modern football but the exterior influence that changed the sport for what we see nowadays. In a way, this was a cautionary tale and even though football is more popular than ever, it makes you wonder: what was the cost? Is it all worth it?
4. Rudy (1993)
If you are into underdog movies or uplifting stories, it doesn't get any better than Rudy. A movie about the power of the human spirit and pursuing your dreams. This movie is the ultimate motivational speech. Rudy never asks to be rooted for and nevertheless, we end up wanting him to succeed. There is a quote in this movie that I love: "Having dreams is what makes life tolerable."
Sometimes you need someone to believe in your dreams, even if that person is not you. Also, the movie shows that people that really care about us are the ones that are willing to beat some sense into us instead of telling us that everything will be alright.
We are always looking for the meaning of our lives and we are always looking for ways to make our own mark in this world, and if we have an impact on at least one person's life in a positive way, well, guess what? You are already a success.
3. Varsity Blues (1999)
Varsity Blues gives us an interesting point of view on the sport of football. This genre always gives you two options: you are either shown the perspective of the people outside the locker room or that of the players inside the locker room. This movie takes a different path and makes our main character (a quarterback no less) an outsider and we see the struggle that this conveys on the field and off the field.
Our main character wants to finish high school, get a scholarship and leave on good terms with everyone he grew up with and close that chapter of his life just like us. But when his father only wants to discuss the upcoming game instead of congratulating him on his admission to college, it shows how football becomes everything when your options are limited.
It's a great study on how football has become a religion of sorts and pokes fun at the whole concept. It has the classic big game, the classic big play and the last minute heroics that define this genre that we come to expect. But Varsity Blues does not build up to those moments. In fact, for us to be expecting those moments, the movie succeeds in proving its point. It's not always about winning but the players have no other option because people that watch them play are expecting no less.
2. The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Action lovers, this movie is for you. Just beware, the movie has violence on different levels. It is ruthless and a little bit misogynistic and offensive. But it's absolutely well made. The reason I love this movie is because looking back, it almost predicted the future, not only for football but the way society has either became more aware of social issues (misogyny for example) or more politically correct. I think Roger Ebert described it best:
“The Last Boy Scout” is a superb example of what it is: a glossy, skillful, cynical, smart, utterly corrupt and vilely misogynistic action thriller. How is the critic to respond? To give it a negative review would be dishonest, because it is such a skillful and well-crafted movie. To be positive is to seem to approve its sickness about women. I’ll give it three stars. As for my thumb, I’ll use it and my forefinger to hold my nose."
If you like movies like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon then you are all set.
As for football, it shows the sport that in essence is pure but it can easily be twisted to the point of becoming a sick spectacle. The Last Boy Scout shows the really ugly side of the sport but makes it somehow enjoyable by providing someone to root for.
1. Remember The Titans (2000)
Respect. That's exactly what sports have taught me throughout my life. Respect for my teammates and respect for my opponent. In a way, thanks to that philosophy, I enjoy writing here for Moviepilot. Because no matter how much people disagree with each other, at the end of the day we all respect our individuality.
Sadly, nowadays we still have to deal with issues we thought we already had overcome like racism or prejudice. But even if for a moment, we can show the world that as a community we can rise above those hardships, then we already took a step in the right direction. Moviepilot is a melting pot of ideas, culture and race and just like football was the thing that joined the Titans, film and entertainment is what we all have in common.
Well, there you have it. Thank you very much for your time and I hope you enjoyed the read.