‘Tis the season for sweaters, scarves, fall leaves, and pumpkin spice flavored everything. But most important of all, it’s football season! America’s pastime sucks the brain power of millions and throws this country into a hypnotic trance as we gather around the TV set like cavemen to a fire. With our pork rinds resting on our pot bellies, we drool into our Bud Light and collectively drone, “fooootbaaaaalllllll…”
We Americans really love this sport. We at The Audience Awards really love film. So, let us marry the two and celebrate with a list of our top 10 football movies. In no particular order.
10. The Waterboy
Adam Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a socially inept waterboy with a speech impediment and hidden anger issues due to constant teasing and excessive sheltering by his mother, Helen (Kathy Bates). He became the waterboy for the fictional University of Louisiana Cougars after being told his father died of dehydration while in the Sahara Desert serving in the Peace Corps. The players, of course, torment him and the team’s head coach, Red Beaulieu, eventually fires him for “disrupting” his practices. Bobby then approaches Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) of the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs and asks to work as the team’s waterboy. After being picked on again by his new team, Coach Klein encourages Bobby to strike back, which leads to him tackling and knocking out the team’s quarterback. Coach Klein convinces Bobby to enroll as a student at SCLSU and play for the team. Bobby’s mother tells Bobby of the evils of football (foosball!) and forbids him to play. He agrees to play as long as nobody tells his mother. Bobby helps the Mud Dogs win the Bourbon Bowl, and is named MVP. Hooray! Points scored for everyone and their dog saying “You can do eeet” ad nauseum after seeing this film.
9. Remember The Titans
In 1971, the desegregated T.C. Williams High School hires Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) to lead the schools football team. Black and white team members frequently clash in racially motivated conflicts at their football camp, but after forceful coaxing and rigorous athletic training by Boone, the team achieves racial harmony and success. After returning from football camp, Boone is told by a member of the school board that if he loses even a single game, he will be fired. Subsequently, the Titans go through the season undefeated. Points scored battling racial prejudice through the beloved game of football.
8. Horse Feathers
Starring The Marx Brothers, the film centers around a game between the fictional Darwin and Huxley universities. The climax of the movie, often referenced as one of the greatest football-related scenes in movie history where our protagonists win the football game by taking the ball into the end zone in a horse-drawn garbage wagon that Pinky rides like a chariot. Points scored for The Marx Brothers and football. What a combo!
James Robert Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr.) –nicknamed ‘Radio’ because of his vintage radio collection and his love of music–is a mentally disabled man in Anderson, South Carolina. Coach Harold Jones, played by Ed Harris, is one of the town’s most respected men, and coach of the popular high school football team, befriends him and opens up a new world to him by inviting Radio to help out at football practice and during games. Coach Jones learns to value friendship and family ties. Points scored for being a feel good, warm and fuzzy movie that might make you smile after your favorite team loses the game.
Semi-Tough is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Dan Jenkins that stars Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson as two pro-football pals who both fall for the team-owner’s very rich daughter. And we all know that’s a recipe for some goofy, light-hearted and predictable fun that won’t challenged your beer addled, hung-over brain too terribly much. Points scored for some serious 70’s mustache and man-hairdo action.
Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn) is the daughter of a famed football coach who leaves her job coaching girls track at the affluent Prescott high school to take over a football team at an inner-city high school (Central High School)–the kind of place where guard dogs are needed to patrol the campus. At first, the new coach’s idealism and enthusiasm are suffocated with racial and gender prejudice, but eventually her overriding spirit begins to whip her unruly team into shape. The real test for Molly comes when her Central High team faces Prescott in the city championship. Points scored for Goldie Hawn. Because…Goldie Hawn.
4. The Best Of Times
Robin Williams plays Jack Dundee, a banker obsessed with what he considers the most shameful moment in his life: dropping a perfectly thrown pass in the final seconds of the 1972 high school football game between Taft and their arch rivals, Bakersfield, which ended in a scoreless tie. Thirteen years later, Jack coerces Reno Hightower (Kurt Russel), the quarterback of the fateful game, and now a financially struggling garage owner in debt to Jack’s bank, into helping him replay the game. He convinces supporters in both towns to re-stage the game and in the process revitalizes Taft, as well as his and Reno’s marriages. Points Scored for fixing your marriage with football and by being totally obsessed with your failed, miserable past.
3. Varsity Blues
In small-town Texas, high school football is a religion and head coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) is God. Kilmer is trying to lead his West Canaan Coyotes to their 23rd division title. When star quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) suffers an injury, the Coyotes are forced to regroup under the unorthodox leadership of John Moxon (James Van Der Beek), a brainy second-string quarterback with a slightly irreverent approach to the game. Varsity Blues explores our obsession with sports and how teenage athletes respond to the extraordinary pressures places on them. Points scored for the character Billy Bob whose breakfast consists of pancakes chased down with syrup swigged straight from the bottle. Yum.
2. Any Given Sunday
This film takes an epic and intimate look at the men and women who comprise the milieu behind the great game of football. From the modern-day gladiators of the gridiron, their coaches and their often cast aside families, to the money-eyed team owners who attempt to control the game as big business, the hungry sports media, and hangers-on trying to get a taste of the glamour and glory. Points scored for an amazing cast of actors including Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, and LL Cool J.
1. Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is an outspoken and brash agent at Sports Management International. A week after spontaneously writing a stirring, visionary mission statement for his agency, entitled “The Things We Think And Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business,” he’s unceremoniously fired. Stripped of his job and a good measure of his identity, the tenacious but hanging-by-a-thread Jerry is forced to start from scratch. He’s joined on his journey to redemption by two unlikely allies: Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a second-tier wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, and Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellwegar), a wistful 26-year-old single mother who departs her accountancy position with SMI for a very uncertain future with her new boss. Points scored for everyone’s quotes they love to hate: “You complete me” and “You had me at hello.”
Do you have a favorite football film not included above? Let us know in the comments!