Best and most preposterous sports movies according to Bill Halter

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Foxcatcher is a highly acclaimed movie that fits into the “Sports” category. The other day a friend of mine told me that as the sports guy I had to see it. “It’s the best sports movie of all-time” he said. That’s high praise so I Redboxed the sucker and… it was terrible. Like, bad to the point where I may never be able to take my friend seriously again. It did inspire me, however to make a list of my top sports movies so others can ridicule my opinions:

10. The Wrestler: Controversy right out of the gate that I would classify “The Wrestler” as a sports movie, but how else do you label a movie about guys with their shirts off pretending to beat each other up? It’s Sports Entertainment, and this movie is a great depiction of the harsh realities of professional wrestling. Great finishing move for Randy the Ram, a diving headbutt off the top rope, the “Ram Jam!”

9. White Men Can’t Jump:
The only time you will ever see a two-on-two basketball game at the gym or playground is if there are only four people there. So making a moving where playgrounds full of hoopers play two-on-two games is a stretch, but it’s a hilarious stretch because it teams Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) with Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes). Harrelson was known as the dumb bartender from the sitcom Cheers before this movie, while Snipes was in his prime. I’m pretty sure this is the movie that popularized, “yo momma jokes.”

8. Diggstown: “Never try to con a con man.” James Woods’ character makes a bet with a business owner that washed up “Honey” Roy Palmer can beat 10 boxers from his town of Diggstown in 24 hours. Great lines and great drama. This movie came out in 1992 and also stars Heather Graham, Oliver Platt and Louis Gossett Jr.

7. Miracle: The fact that I’m from Minnesota, as was most of the roster from the 1980 US hockey team, has nothing to do with this one. An accurate depiction of the greatest sports upset in our country’s history.

6. Goon: I went into this movie thinking I’d turn it off after 20 minutes, but I ended up loving every bit of it. Stifler plays an enforcer who’s only on the minor league hockey team to fight. The movie completely ignores modern day concussion protocol and is at times uncomfortably violent, but the dang thing is spectacularly funny. The love story that every movie is required to have isn’t annoying in this one, as the girl in pursuit is completely rough around the edges with flaws that make her wanting to be with the knucklehead main character actually seem realistic. Great news: Goon 2 is in production.

5. Rocky 4: Heavyweight champ Rocky Balboa fights a roided up Ivan Drago on Christmas Day in Russia. Neither boxer makes any money for the fight, even though they probably could have made Mayweather-Pacquiao cash for a USA vs Russia matchup during the Cold War. Rocky gets knocked to the canvas so many times the ref should be thrown in jail for not stopping the fight, but it’s a great build to the Italian Stallion’s knockout in the 15th round. So many ridiculous elements, but it’s a brilliant story line that provides plenty of goose-bump moments. I rank the six Rocky Movies like this:
-Rocky 4
-Rocky 6 (yes the most recent one when he’s in his 50’s)
-Rocky 1
-Rocky 2
-Rocky 3
-Rocky 5

4. Bull Durham: You can tell this movie was written and directed by a guy who spent time playing minor league baseball. Great storylines both on and off the field. Annie Savoy’s character, who picks a new player to be with each season, could have only been played that well by Susan Sarandon.

3. Warrior:
A movie that some how flew under the radar. Nick Nolte brilliantly plays a recovering alcoholic whose two sons are both competing in a mixed martial arts tournament. Great action, great acting, and great heart in this movie that came out to little fanfare in 2011.

2. Hoosiers: Based on a true story of a small town basketball team in Indiana winning the state championship at time when they only had one state champ. Chills for days… great shot Jimmy.

1. Major League: Hilarity, realistic baseball scenes, and great narration/game commentary by Bob Uecker. What a fantastic idea to have the final game be a one game playoff to make the postseason rather than a best of seven World Series. A really well done story with relatable and entertaining characters. The tragedy of “Major League” is that five years later they made “Major League 2.” Instead of using the same format as the first one (Rated R, realistic baseball scenes) they tried to appeal to kids by having it Rated PG with an overdose of corniness. They eventually made “Major League 3: Back to the Minors” which I refused to watch.


Most Preposterous Sports Movies of All Time

-The Program: Last weekend my wife and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch sports on 20 different TV screens. Life was great until as I was finishing my 31st buffalo wing my wife told me I had just consumed 3,200 calories, 274 grams of fat and 5,800 mg of sodium. I was 12 years old when “The Program” came out, a first of its kind movie about a major college football team couldn’t go wrong! As the credits rolled I realized it was a soap opera with bad football scenes. Oh, and I should have stopped at 12 wings.

-The Natural: This baseball movie starring Robert Redford is considered a classic and was nominated for four academy awards, but I dare you to try and stay awake while watching it from start to finish. The terrible acting and ridiculous story line absolutely don’t hold up 30 years later.

-Draft Day: I love the idea of basing a movie around the NFL Draft, and it was great they went all the way and had actual NFL franchises. But when you have a quarterback add 15 yards to his deep ball without everyone in the organization demanding he be tested for steroids? When the GM trades three number-one picks for the top spot without telling anyone else in the organization, and then takes a guy he could have gotten with his original pick, again without telling anyone else? And when he then trades three second-rounders for the sixth overall, only to turn that pick into three first-rounders and a punt returner? I got dizzy from rolling my eyes so much.

-Field of Dreams: I expect to suspend reality when watching a movie, but there has to be some explanation for me to grab onto. A disembodied voice tells an Iowa farmer, “If you build it they will come…”, leading to him building a baseball field despite struggling financially so the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and others will come play on it and so he can “have a catch” with his his dad. Sorry man, that’s too much. (Probably unfair to include two Kevin Costner movies in the preposterous section, as he was great in both of them in addition to his role as an MLB pitcher in “For the Love of the Game.” “Tin Cup” was ok as well.)

-Air Bud

-Air Bud: Golden Receiver

-Air Bud: World Pup

-Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch

-Air Bud: Spikes Back

Enjoy the movies! Remember, when going to the theater, fill up before you go so you don’t have to buy $8 popcorn. Remind your wife of that too.


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