I have never been a movie person. There, I said it.
Unless it’s a rainy day, I have a hard time taking two hours to go sit in a dark theater or curling up with my laptop when I could be outside enjoying the weather or playing a pickup game at the gym.
But then again, there’s a certain appeal to sports movies that draws me in and brings my competitiveness out. I know I’m not the only one.
During the summer of 2007, I sat down with a few friends to watch the movie “300.” Throughout the movie my friend, Matt, one of the state’s top wrestlers, shouted war cries and at one point, ripped his shirt off and jumped up and down during a fight scene. I thought he had lost his mind.
He told me that the movie pumped him up. It made him want to get on the wrestling mat or football field and kick some butt. Although war movies aren’t my cup of tea, I can understand that. Movies can be powerful, and in a similar way (minus the war cries), sports movies are my “300.”
I’ve spent the past few days watching what are considered the greatest sports movies of all time. My work colleagues, Facebook friends and Twitter followers consulted me on the cinematic standouts I needed to watch. After hearing everything from “Dodgeball” to “Pride of the Yankees,” here’s a shortened version of the list I came up with, including my reasoning behind the top five.
1. “Remember the Titans” – This movie came out when I was about 11 years old, and it remains on the top of my list. I grew up in a different time era than the 1971 students of T.C. Williams High School, but coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton), Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) and Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) give the best possible look inside the struggle to integrate and unify black and white athletes during the Civil Rights Era. You have possibly the best supporting group of characters that add comedy to a touchy and heart-wrenching story line in Rev, Sunshine, Petey and Louie. It is also the first soundtrack to a movie I ever purchased — it’s that good. Favorite quote: “Gary, if you want to play on this football team, you answer me when I ask you who is your daddy? Who’s your daddy, Gary? Who’s your daddy?”
2. “Miracle” – Admittedly, I had never seen “Miracle” prior to this weekend, and it now makes my top-five list of movies in any genre. There is something to be said about Minnesota and hockey, and I’m thinking Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) displays the type of pride, discipline and level of perfection our state has while on the ice. Not only that, he brings that pride to a national level during the height of the Cold War. For 135 minutes, there were goose bumps on my arms and legs while watching Russell’s character bring together a team of college kids, who were once rivals, to take on the most powerful and successful hockey team on the planet, the Soviets. I just wish I had been born to see it myself in real time because, as my dad says, “It was much more than a game of hockey.” Favorite quote: “You think you can win on talent alone? Gentlemen, you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.”
3. “Field of Dreams” – It may be bold to say that whoever dislikes this movie is un-American, but I think it’s true. Baseball is this country’s pastime and nothing will change that. When the 1919 Chicago White Sox players start emerging from the Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) cornfields, I feel like singing “Take me out to the ball game.” It may help that I’m in love with Kevin Costner in nearly every movie he’s in (yes, even when he plays a serial killer in “Mr. Brooks”), but he was perfect in his role and reminds us that it’s never too late to trust your gut and follow your dreams. Also, who doesn’t love James Earl Jones? Favorite quote: “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.” Also classic: “If you build it, he will come.”
4. “Hoosiers” – I’m ashamed I’d never seen this movie before Sunday, especially as a die-hard basketball fan. Basketball was to Indiana in the 1950s what football is to Texas and hockey is to Minnesota — a little crazy. Viewers can take away so many lessons from this movie, and the only thing I’m going to say about it is this: Every parent of an athlete needs to watch this movie. From an overprotective parent standpoint, times haven’t changed that much. “Hoosiers” displays the type of respect and trust parents should show a coach (at least until their character is proven otherwise). I’m not condoning coach Norman Dale’s questionable past of assaulting a player, simply stating that parents need to stay out of the locker rooms. Favorite quote: “You are in the army. You’re in my army. Every day between 3 and 5.”
5. “Finding Forrester” – This is a crossover movie between sports and academia as a young black basketball player, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) finds a mentor in reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery). I watched it for the first time in my first journalism class my sophomore year of high school and still recommend it to students, teachers, athletes or anyone juggling extra-curricular activities with school. It’s a classic example of the student teaching the teacher, and vice versa. Jamal: [to Professor Crawford] “You said that my skills reached ‘farther’ than basketball. ‘Farther’ relates to distance, ‘further’ is a definition of degree. You should have said ‘further.’”
These next five flicks are also fantastic, if only for their quotability, of which I will share my favorites:
6. “Glory Road” – “Hey, hey, Winnaker, Winnaker, do you want me to get you a skirt? I’ll get you a skirt if you keep playing like a girl!”
7. “We Are Marshall” – “Then I thought about a team, and a school, and a town that’s gotta be hurtin’ real bad. And I thought, hell, maybe I could help.”
8. “The Sandlot” – “You’re killin’ me Smalls.”
9. “A League of Their Own” – “Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in baseball!”
10. “Space Jam” (yes, I said Space Jam) – “Charles Barkley: I promise I’ll never swear again. I’ll never get another technical. I’ll never trash talk. … I won’t go out with Madonna again.”
My honorable mentions include: “Bull Durham,” “Major League,” “Rudy,” “Invincible,” “Radio,” “Coach Carter,” “The Rookie,” “Pride of the Yankees,” “Jerry Maguire,” “The Longest Yard” and “White Men Can’t Jump.”
I’ll beat the outraged comments to the punch by stating that this is simply my top-10 list, and the reason that none of the “Rocky” epidemic movies (however many there are now) are listed is because I have never watched “Rocky.” I know, I know. I’m embarrassed for me, too.
While I’ll be making the most of my rainy days to come by watching a couple of other movies for the first time, including “The Natural,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Seabiscuit” and “8 Seconds,” I encourage anyone to make suggestions to me via our comment section or Twitter at KatLadwig1. In case you haven’t noticed, movies with historical significance are my favorite kind.
Movies are a great way to escape reality and/or kill time, but I do encourage viewers to not waste a beautiful day indoors. Take note of the activeness, dedication and pride of the characters in these sports movies we love so much and apply it to your own life. Be active.