Archives for posts with tag: sports movies

As far as kids’ sports movies go, you can do a lot worse than “Little Giants” (1994). I know that’s not much of an endorsement, but the genre has a low ceiling. And this one does indeed have all the cliche rag-tag misfits (fat kid, nerdy kid, sickly kid, tomboy, blah, blah, blah) that make for eye-rolling hijinks. Two brothers – one’s a champ, one’s a wimp – square off as youth football coaches, but the subplots make the difference. The tomboy’s having an identity crisis, while hometown Heisman hero Ed O’Neill has several nice-guy moments that belie his hard-nosed sibling persona.

Many of Paul Newman’s characters excel at knowing how to play the angles. In “Slap Shot” (1977), he takes his hustle to the hockey rink as an aging player/coach whose career and team are skating on thin ice. He comes up with a plan to use “aggressive” play to boost the squad in the standings and at the box office. In real life at the time, professional hockey was being criticized for some teams’ use of physical thuggery. Newman’s team is so cartoonishly violent (the Hanson brothers are sports movie legends) it’s played for laughs while also mocking social norms.

Hollywood likes bundling a bunch of good-looking teenageish boys for movies about Texas football because it checks off boxes in a whole bunch of marketing demographics. The latest installment of inspiring underdog gridiron mediocrity is “12 Mighty Orphans” (2021). Based on a true story (aren’t they all?), this heartwarming tale of Dust Bowl grit, determination and long speeches by Luke Wilson introduces us to a Fort Worth children’s home that captured a Depression-era nation’s attention. The filmmakers inject it with the typical melodramatic steroids of teenage hijinks and overbaked subplots. Still, it’s worth waiting for the mini-bios during the credits.