The best of football movies
"Any Given Sunday": Oliver Stone movies are hit or miss, but "Any Given Sunday" is a huge touchdown. The movie tells the story of an aging, washed up football coach (Al Pacino) who struggles to bring his team to victory while dealing with a demanding team owner (Cameron Diaz), an injured star quarterback (Dennis Quaid), his rookie replacement who lets fame get to his head (Jamie Foxx) as well as players with bad habits, sketchy trainers and all the other fun that comes with professional football. While the movie doesn't show anything that football fans don't know happens behind closed doors, it gives an honest and unbiased look at how the politics of the game work, how the players live and the struggle on and off the field.
"Friday Night Lights": If "Any Given Sunday" showed the full lifestyle that came with professional football, "Friday Night Lights" does the same for high school football. In a small Texas town where football is worshipped, a high school team struggles on and off the field towards a championship. While "Any Given Sunday" remained impartial, "Friday Night Lights" is a more emotional and powerful journey delving right into the players lives rather than just profiling it.
"Gridiron Gang": This is perhaps one of the most underrated movies ever. The film stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in an incredibly powerful performance. Johnson plays a former football player working in a juvenile detention facility filled with mostly young gang members. Tired of seeing them released only to end up quickly dead or back in jail, he organizes a football team of inmates to train and compete in high school football leagues to teach the kids discipline and straighten them out. Based on the remarkable true story of a social worker who did make a difference forming the program, "Gridiron Gang" is a powerful emotional journey as well as an entertaining sports film and a gripping thriller.
"Varsity Blues": "Varsity Blues" is another story of a small town Texas high school football team, but while "Friday Night Lights" was somewhat family friendly, "Varsity Blues" delves right into the dirt on the same level as "Any Given Sunday" showing us illegal drug and steroid use, sex, drinking and everything else that comes with the territory. James Van Der Beek stars as a second string quarterback who gets a chance to lead an undefeated team after its star (Paul Walker) is injured. Jon Voight also stars as the touch coach who believes in winning by any means necessary no matter what cost it may have on the players.
"Jerry Maguire": It's hard to remember that at one point Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. were loved and a big deal. Cruise stars as Jerry Maguire, a sports agent who has a moral epiphany that costs him his job. Maguire finds himself left with only one client (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and tries to prove himself by taking his rising football star to the next level. Oh, and there's that famous love story and quote between him and Rene Zellweger if you're interested in more than sports.
Notable mentions: Both of "The Longest Yards", "The Waterboy", "Remember the Titans", "Invincible"
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