Get your fix with these football flicks
This is a busy time of year for football fans.
Amid the orgy of bowl games and impending NFL playoff matchups, the supply of pigskin on TV has been plentiful.
But, the Packers are off this week. That means a lot of casual fans will be looking for something different to do and diehards will be looking for a fix.
May we suggest a football movie?
With help from a few friends and the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), we compiled this list of football movies -- some favorites and some flops -- to help pass the time.
"Friday Night Lights" (2004) -- Adapted from the book of the same name by H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, this is a look at Permian High School team that captivates the tiny town of Odessa, Texas, where a successful prep football season is surpassed only by food, water and shelter on the necessity scale. Billy Bob Thornton plays coach Gary Gaines and you can see country singer Tim McGraw acting as well. Popcorn talk: Bissinger, who wrote a book about St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, lived in Shorewood for awhile.
"The Longest Yard" (1974; remake in 2005) -- The original, starring Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert, is an all-time classic. The remake, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, is serviceable at best. The story centers on a star football player who is incarcerated after a series of personal problems and has to deal with a sadistic warden who makes him lead a team of inmates in a tuneup game against the guards. Reynolds plays the role of veteran inmate / former football player Nate Scarborough in the remake. Popcorn talk: The climactic game in the original takes up 47 minutes of the film, which clocks in at 121 minutes.
"Remember the Titans" (2000) -- Football is the backdrop, but early 1970s race relations provide the primary storyline in this movie based on the integration of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. Denzel Washington plays coach Herman Boone, who gets his players to bond during training camp and fashions a championship-caliber team that suffers a setback when a star player is injured in a car accident. Popcorn talk: Disney took some license with this movie, which was filmed in Georgia rather than Virginia. In the movie Gary Bertier, played by Ryan Hurst, is injured before the championship game. In real life, Bertier played in the final game and was injured afterward.
"We are Marshall" (2006) -- A poignant tale about the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed most of Marshall University's football team. Matthew McConaughey stars as head coach Jack Lengyel, who has to rebuild the program while the community around him heals. Bring some Kleenex for this one.
"Rudy" (1993) -- Take Rocky Balboa out of Philadelphia, shrink him to about half-size, drop him onto the Notre Dame campus and -- presto! -- you've got Daniel Ruettiger. This uplifting tale, starring Sean Astin in the title role, is enjoyable even for the many people who can't stand the Fighting Irish. Although they don't appear in a scene together, Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn both appear in the movie before hitting it big with "Swingers." Popcorn talk: When Rudy looks at the dress list, it contains the names of players who took part in Notre Dame's game against Air Force. Joe Montana led the Irish back from a 20-point deficit to a 31-30 victory. The first two names that Rudy points two belong to the two players who actually carried him off the field following his only appearance.
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This made me realize how many truly awful football movies there are out there. However, there are a few diamonds in the rough from that list. I remember watching a show on ESPN about sports movies and all of the NFL players interviewed stated "North Dallas Forty" was supposedly the most accurate portrayal of the league. Yikes.
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