In our fine country, we tend to focus on the big three of football, basketball, and baseball when discussing sports. I have no problem with this as an avid fan of all three, but this sometimes leads to movies featuring others sports suffering. Without football’s bone-jarring hits or baseball’s well-established archetypes, wonderful sports movies wither quickly. Have no fear, however, as I have a stockpile of favorites away from the mainstream. These first three movies achieved varying degrees of success with differing levels of star power, but each is worth the watch for lovers of sports.
Kicking and Screaming (2005)
Will Ferrell’s zany soccer dad movie did moderately well at the box office, but this quirky comedy has not shown the same staying power as some of his wilder, McKay-aided hits. In K&S, Ferrell plays Phil Weston, a goofy everyman frustrated with his father’s overbearing competitive nature. In some of his most successful work, such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights, Ferrell steps right into the shoes of a crazy man, but here he plays a (sort of) normal man sucked in by the need to win. He gets to mix all the best parts of Buddy the Elf and Allen Gamble and Ricky Bobby into a distorted picture of a suburban husband, in large part thanks to coffee. Besides Ferrell, the movie boasts a fun and willing mix of characters, with Mike Ditka locking horns with Robert Duvall (as Phil’s dad) as the kids’ soccer games heat up. We even get Beans from Even Stevens, somewhere in between his adorable Disney self and this. Some of Ferrell’s uproarious work focuses on his crazy characters and friends, but K&S delightfully pokes fun at suburbia, family, and the dangers of children’s sports. You won’t find the vulgar language and innuendo characteristic of Ferrell’s more adult work, but the humor does not suffer.
Goon was not a flop or failure but rather a simple, small project from director Michael Dowse. As an admitted Seann William Scott fan (expect to see GWW praise The Rundown on many occasions), I was inclined to like the movie, and I was not disappointed. Based on a true story, the movie follows Scott’s Doug Glatt, an underachieving bartender who sets out to make a name for himself as a big-hitting minor league hockey player. There are solid hockey sequences to go along with about 438 wonderful northern accents, and the film boasts a sneaky-good cast, with Jay Baruchel making a fool out of himself as Doug’s vulgar pal Pat, and Liev Schreiber playing Doug’s stoic “goon” hero. You won’t get the typical uplifting sports movie with Goon, but you will get entertainment…and Seann William Scott on figure skates.
I’ll try to contain myself, as Wimbledon is one of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures. Most people see “Wimbledon” in their TV listings and hope for Federer or Nadal; I cross my fingers for some Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst. The movie essentially flopped, and I cannot understand why someone would release it a couple months after the actual tournament for which it is named has been played, but I will watch it any time of year, any hour of any day. I forgive the questionable in-game sequences, for tennis by nature is difficult to control and dictate, and Bettany’s somewhat uninspiring physique, as he and Dunst give cheeky fun performances with tangible chemistry. Bettany’s Peter Colt is washed-up and ready to retire, and Dunst’s upstart Lizzie Bradbury gives him a spark. There is no hiding the movie’s sappiness and predictability, but Bettany is cheeky, Dunst heartwarming, and Jon Favreau and James McAvoy lend helpful humorous hands. No doubt easy and breezy, Wimbledon serves an ace courts you hits a winner. Just watch it, ok?