Magazine article Insight on the News

Box-Office Bore: Hollywood Loves to Make Movies about Sports Heroes. the Trouble Is, Most Stink. (Sports)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Box-Office Bore: Hollywood Loves to Make Movies about Sports Heroes. the Trouble Is, Most Stink. (Sports)

Article excerpt

Movies and sports ... they're meant for each other. Both tell dramatic stories, are populated with good guys and bad guys, and play out in front of mass audiences at large venues. So why does it seem so hard to make a believable, entertaining movie about sports? There are notable exceptions, but for every Hoosiers there's a Replacements making its way to a theater near you.

We may never understand why Hollywood continues to make the same mistake over and over, but an examination of the worst sports films may shed some light on the subject and serve as a primer for wanna-be directors looking to make a big hit.

The Bad News Mighty Little Wildcat Ducks Bear Syndrome.

Hollywood loves to take a tried-and-true premise and remake it with a slight twist. Nowhere is this more painfully obvious than in that old standby of sports movies: ragtag kids team turns into a winner.

This may ring a bell. Down-and-out coach with a troubled past reluctantly agrees to take over a team full of miscreant kids (including, but not limited to, the shy one, the bad one, the fat one, the nerdy one, the token black and, occasionally, the female).

Said team, replete with embarrassing or uninspiring nickname (the Ladybugs, sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds), can't get anything right on the field/court/ice until the new coach somehow finds a way to unite them just in time for the big game against the hated rival (which has bigger players, better uniforms and a coach who will stop at nothing to win).

The usual side plot involves the shy kid who lives with his single mother and is in desperate need of a father figure. He decides to set up coach and mom, even though the two are reluctant. In the end, our little heroes win the big game, coach has a new outlook on life and young Billy has a new dad.

Note to Hollywood: It was funny the first time around in The Bad News Bears. It hasn't been since.

White Men Can't Jump (and Woody Harrelson can't shoot).

Not that it stopped Harrelson from firing up awkward-looking 3-pointer after awkward-looking 3-pointer. Nor did it prevent Kevin Costner from continuing his lifelong pursuit of convincing us he could have been a real ballplayer. In short, professional athletes generally don't make good actors, and professional actors generally don't make good athletes.

When a 45-year-old Costner short-arms a 62-mph fastball past a flailing batter in For Love of the Game, are we really to believe that he has just tossed a no-hitter against the Yankees? In a word: No. John Goodman seemed a natural choice to play the Sultan of Swat in The Babe, until he picked up a baseball bat and became the Sultan of Weak Grounder Back to the Mound. …

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