Archives for posts with tag: sports movies

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.

There’s a long history of films that take place in quaint UK or Irish villages full of quirky characters brought together by something that interrupts their otherwise ordinary lives. “Dream Horse” (2021) strides boldly within that lane like an even-money favorite. Based on a true story, Toni Collette plays a Welsh woman who decides on a whim to purchase and breed a racehorse. A syndicate of townsfolk is formed to pay for the upbringing of the resulting foal. Scrappy underdog hijinks ensue. Some of the characters are cliche and some of the drama is melo, but it’ll warm your heart.