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Thursday, August 29, 2002
Worst sports movies ever

Page 2 staff

All this week, we've focused on the best that sports movies have to offer -- the 20 best films, the 10 best actors, the 10 best actresses and the 10 most moving moments.

Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes
"The Fan" wastes the talents of Robert De Niro, left, and Wesley Snipes -- which is hard to do.
Today, however, it's time to scrape the bottom of the barrel. There have been plenty of awful sports films, but only a select few can make Page 2's list of the 10 worst movies of all-time.

Check out our list and then vote in the poll at right to finger the worst offender of all-time.

1. "The Fan" (1996)
Is this how it went? ... You were a young screenwriter. Moments before a big pitch meeting with the studio muckety-mucks you had nothing to sell them. Your mind was a blank. You shouldn't have gone out drinking the night before. You scrambled around your windowless jail cell of an office, looking for a scrap, a hint of an idea, when you came across a treatment you wrote as a college freshman. You skimmed over it, and it was brutal -- clumsy, obvious, totally implausible -- but it was all you had. So you went to the meeting ready to pitch the sorry idea, figuring maybe, maybe it would buy you some time. You made the pitch, sweat pouring down your forehead, certain you were about to get canned.

And then, and you still don't quite understand how or why, they liked it. Heck, they loved it. They talked De Niro. Someone said Snipes. Twenty minutes later the thing was in pre-production. ... That's how it happened, right? And if you could take it all back you would, right?

Any Given Sunday
Despite a movie speech from Al Pacino, "Any Given Sunday" remains a huge disappointment.
2. "Any Given Sunday" (1999)
Would it be reckless of us to say that this is the biggest disappointment in movie history? (Didn't we all want it to be good?) Well, color us reckless. While you're at it, color us appalled, mystified, and bored to tears. And we rank the "eyeball" scene in the final playoff game as the most unrealistic in sports movie history.

3. "Rocky V" (1990)
Even The Sports Guy, who built the temple of Rocky at which we all worship, can't bear to watch this one. The Tommy Morrison doubleheader: a fighter who can't act and an actor who can't fight; he's like the love child of Randall "Tex" Cobb and David Arquette or something.

4. "Caddyshack II" (1988)
Any producer who trades Rodney Dangerfield for Jackie Mason is out walking the streets the next morning. We struggled to find words sufficient to express our frustration and disappointment in "Shack II," then we stumbled on a review from Rita Kempley in the Washington Post that got it just right: "the movie is lamer than a duck with bunions, and dumber than grubs," she said. Amen, sister.

5. "Rollerball" (2001)
Let's do a comparison:

Chris Klein
Chris Klein couldn't fill James Caan's shoes in the "Rollerball" remake.
James Caan: Gritty, canny, strong. There's something mysterious and brooding about him. He's got a history of playing intriguing parts and always manages to add a little juice to what's on the page.

Chris Klein: Smooth, vapid, fragile. There is something utterly empty about him. He's on the screen, he's gone, it makes no difference. He has a history of ... well, no, actually, he doesn't have a history.

6. "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan" (1978)
We've got one question: Why make a sequel to "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training?" OK, two questions, maybe three: Tony Curtis? What Shatner wasn't available?

7. "The Babe" (1992)
Nobody's saying they should have done an homage, or that they should have left the seedy stuff out, but this sort of over-the-top anti-hero stuff is just as lame. John Goodman, who is a terrific actor capable of subtle performances, gets no room to breathe.

8. "Amazing Grace and Chuck" (1987)
Maybe sports can change the world, but not like this. Alex English and the kid in a two-hour bland-off, Gregory Peck phoning it in as the President, the weird pseudo-Star-Trek-hand-sign thing and, maybe worst of all, a painfully deliberate pace and serious tone peppered by utterly forgettable writing.

John Goodman
John Goodman's "The Babe" went way too far with the anti-hero theme.
9. "The Main Event" (1979)
Ryan O'Neal as a boxer named Kid Natural. Wrap your mind around that for a minute. When your children ask you what the '70s were like, when they want to know why everyone mocks the '70s, show them this film. Tell them Ryan was once considered a big star with talent. Then tell them how good it is to be alive now, in this time, when Denzel, Daniel Day-Lewis and Ving Rhames play the big boxing parts.

O'Neal was only slightly more convincing as a hockey player in "Love Story," by the way. But when it gets down to it, we'd much rather look at Ali MacGraw, even a dying Ali McGraw, than Barbra Streisand.

10. "The Slugger's Wife" (1985)
Michael O'Keefe can't swing. But that's all right, because Rebecca De Mornay can't really sing and dance so much either. Two kids from different worlds trying to make this love thing work against all odds -- well, at least the plot is original. Be sure to check out the early nightclub scene in which De Mornay's on-stage moves make Molly Ringwald's "Breakfast Club" dance scene look like the very essence of soul.

Also Receiving Votes:
  • "The Replacements" (2000)
  • "The Cutting Edge" (1992)
  • "Ladybugs" (1992)
  • "The Air Up There" (1994)
  • "Necessary Roughness" (1991)
  • "The Legend of Baggger Vance" (2000)
  • "Slap Shot II: Breaking the Ice" (2002)
  • "Johnny Be Good" (1988)