Pillbox

Tailgate with a sports-movie marathon

If no one has told you yet, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XL, to be exact (that’s 40, for all you non-Romans). When I was a child I walked my central Florida neighborhood polling people on who they wanted to win Super Bowl XXX (30), the Steelers’ last appearance in the big game. Now, as I watch them head toward the pinnacle of football glory, I feel like the players are brothers to me. Yep, huge, racially diverse, sweaty, hairy, 300-pound brothers.

In honor of this classic moment in Steeler history, I’ve compiled for you a list of sports movies you might want to watch in preparation for this life-defining day... and a few movies you might want to skip.

Studs (Hines Ward, Big Ben, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian)

The Mighty Ducks: What does the phrase “Quack, quack, quack, quack...” conjure up in your mind? That’s right — The Mighty Ducks! Yeah, I know that this article started off being about football, but the Steelers aren’t the only big name in sports news. Mario Lemieux just retired, also. So bust out the Ducks. Sure, in real life, Anaheim sucks. But I have an absolutely crystal clear image of the one female player (Tammy) for the Ducks spinning rapidly around to discombobulate the opposing team. And come on, how often did you think of ducks as intimidating before this movie came out? Although it’s got a ridiculous name, it’s no Angels in the Outfield, cause that movie seriously sucked.

Remember the Titans: It’s easy to forget a few things about the nature of sports when your team is on a winning streak. But Remember the Titans reminds you that on a team, everyone has to work together to win. In this case the players’ intra-team conflicts are extremely tense, as the school they play football for has just been racially integrated, and the team is now being coached by a black man. Denzel Washington plays Coach Herman Boone. This movie almost makes me overlook Washington’s later film follies, such as starring in the mediocre remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

Caddyshack: Bill Murray has stuck to more serious fare in recent years, but I have honestly never laughed so hard in my life as when I saw him playing golf with the geraniums. Utterly preposterous and pleasing. “This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere.” That’s all you need to know about Caddyshack. That and the fact that it’s the only time Rodney Dangerfield was actually funny.

A Big Dud (Mike Vanderjagt, wide right)

The Rookie: I’ve done a lot for my friends over the years, but the most painful thing I did for a friend was watch this film. The Rookie does what few sports films can manage — it actually induces belly-button-lint–picking boredom. For the record, I just can’t stand Dennis Quaid. It’s no offense to his personal character; I just haven’t liked any movie he’s done. Not In Good Company (schmaltzy), not The Day After Tomorrow (ridiculous), and certainly not this film. For those of you that care, Quaid plays a guy who never made it past the minors because of a shoulder injury. He tries out for the major leagues years later after losing a bet. You can pretty much fill in the inspirational tale from there.
Good For a Few Giggles (Cincinnati Bengals, the Who Dey? Song)

Cool Runnings: Love it or hate it, you can’t have a list of sports films without Cool Runnings. All kinds of hilarious happenings ensue when Jamaica enters the bobsled competition at the Olympics. And the story even has a heart-warming ending that isn’t really predictable. An egg is a pivotal prop in this film — what could possibly go wrong?

Honorable Mentions (Antwaan Randle El, He[eeeee]ath Miller)

Rocky: Yo, don’t let your life pass by without seeing this film. Sylvester Stallone is a big thug who defines the classic comeback role. And come on, Rocky III brought us the fine tune “Eye of the Tiger.” That alone should ensure the movie that started it all a spot on this list.

Field of Dreams: If you watch it, happiness will come. I like this film better than any other Kevin Costner has made. That’s right, it beat out Waterworld. The pivotal performance comes from James Earl Jones. His speech about baseball can make me cry and I don’t even care about the game.

Oh, and in case you forgot: GO STEELERS!

Michelle Bova | Contributing Editor