Tuesday, July 27, 2010
By Joe Collins
Baseball had "Field Of Dreams." Basketball had "Hoosiers". "Rudy" and "Remember The Titans" captured the spirit of football. "Miracle" did wonders for hockey. Heck, in certain ways, "Rocky" is bigger than boxing itself.
But a great movie doesn't necessarily have to revolve around the sport itself. Sometimes, a clutch sports scene can make a movie.
I remember watching "National Lampoon's Vacation" a while back. When the Griswolds finally got to Wally World, Clark and Rusty started running through the parking lot towards the theme park. The movie's producers even camped it up a bit (or a lot) with the "Chariots Of Fire" theme. I mean, how can you not want to go running after watching that?
I came up with a list of the best sports moments in NON-sports movies. Because sometimes, you just need a score, a goal, or a touchdown to make the movie, well, a home run:
"Wedding Crashers" (2005): It's the scene that made "Crabcakes and football: that's what Maryland does!" and "Sack lunch...num-num-num-num!" household expressions. I would post the clip, but given the profanity in it, I'd fear getting fired. Anyway, when you have Christopher Walken and Vince Vaughn playing quarterbacks, the scene instantly qualifies as a classic. But what makes the scene timeless is Rachel McAdams giving Owen Wilson the best flirtatious look in movie history. She lines up on 'D, against Wilson, saying she's going to cover him "like white on rice", then she gives this little head nod and smile. Man, it's just not fair.
"Lucas" (1986): This movie had everyone and everything that should make up a classic 80s flick: Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, Winona Ryder and Kerri Green, that one girl from "The Goonies". Heck, it even had a very young Jeremy Piven. Nerdy high school kid Lucas (Haim) falls for the dream girl (Green). The nerdy kid gets trumped by the big man on campus (Sheen). The pint-sized Lucas then tries to win everyone over by joining the football team. As soon as I saw the climactic "Throw It To Lucas" scene for the first time, I felt bummed because I figured the filmmakers were aiming for the cliched ending. Fortunately, that didn't happen. "Lucas" turned Haim into a star. He would go on to headline such Oscar-worthy classics as "License To Drive" and "Dream A Little Dream".
"The Shining" (1980): I'm kind of pushing it when I say, "sports scenes in non-sports movies", especially when the sports scene is clubbling your husband in the head with a baseball bat and watching him fall down a staircase. Random trivia: the bat is signed by Red Sox hall of famer Carl Yastrzemski. I'm sure Jack Nicholson got a good look at it in point-blank range. I think it's the best five minutes of acting in Nicholson's career. And hey, when the Pirates saw what Shelley Duvall could do with the bat, they immediately signed her and put her in the leadoff spot.
"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (1975): I bet a lot of people still don't know where Boston Celtics legend Robert Parish got his "chief" nickname. It's a takeoff from Chief Bromden, a character from the 1975 Oscar-winning classic starring, once again, Jack Nicholson. The scene where Nicholson (Randle McMurphy) tries to teach Chief to play basketball goes down as one of the all-time greats. It's almost as good as the movie's inspirational World Series scene, where Nicholson ad-libs all things Koufax and Mantle.
"The Naked Gun" (1988): By far and away, the funniest use of sports in a non-sports movie. I have had conversations with people who know Reggie Jackson more for his "I must kill...the queen" line over anything the real Mr. October did in a real game. The clip makes fun of baseball in every possible way: the off-key rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Enrico Palazzo, the highlight montage including a shortstop getting run down by a car, Queen Elizabeth II throwing the best curveball in history, umpire Frank Drebbin's crazy strike call and a bench-clearing brawl...complete with a thrown dining room chair. And Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." gives you a reason to love the city of angels.
Here are some others worthy of a mention:
"The Godfather II": Michael Corleone and Hyman Roth watching football"The Untouchables": Al Capone (Robert De Niro) shows how baseball is a "team" game"Airplane!": Ted Striker teaches the natives to play basketball; also, any scene with Kareem Abdul Jabbar"Diner": The Baltimore Colts quiz"Father Of The Bride" ('91): The father-daughter basketball game (hey...some girls read this column, too)"The Big Lebowski": Like "Kingpin," gave bowling a little shot in the arm"Swingers": Making Gretzky bleed in the video game"Forrest Gump": Forrest dominates the gridiron as a member of the Crimson Tide"Rain Man": The 'Who's On First' scene (or scenes)"Wayne's World": The "He shoots he scores!" hockey scene. Game on!"Short Circuit": 5 plays baseball and imitates either Cosell or Scully (yes, I just referenced "Short Circuit")"Cool Hand Luke": The boxing scene (stay down, Luke!)"Back To School": The Triple Lindy diving scene
And fade to black!
Or something like that.