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A quick introduction to my "72 Best Sports Movies In The Past 33 Years" Package:
1. We're not counting down the Top 72 in order. You could see No. 30 one week, No. 55 the next, then No. 12 the next. There's no rhyme or reason for when columns will be posted. None.
2. There was no voting panel, no other opinions solicited, nothing. I'm relying on three decades of experience here. You're in good hands.
3. Movies were evaluated for the following things, in no particular order: Quality of the movie; quality of the sports scenes; realism of the sports scenes; realism in general; sheer entertainment value; re-watchability; dated-ness of the movie; star power; originality; typical sports movies; Chill Scenes; defining scenes; intentional comedy; unintentional comedy; and effect on the genre in general.
4. Three ground rules: A.) Without a Chill Scene, you can't crack the Top 50; B.) Unless you're re-watchable, you can't crack the Top 50; and C.) If you could also qualify as a Chick Flick, you can't crack the Top 20. 5. For it to qualify as a sports movie, sports needs to be a consistent and recurring theme. Also, anything featuring a competition qualifies as a sports movie, whether it's poker, ice skating, chess, running, cycling or whatever. 6. "Rocky V," "Caddyshack II" and "Bad News Bears III" never happened, making them ineligible for the "Top 72."
And yet, as the years pass, the following mathematical equation ...
("Friday Night Lights" + "All the Right Moves") x (MTV + Cinemax) = Good Times ... is starting to look like something Einstein came up with.
Is there a more underrated SLANFARE (the acronym for "surfing late at night for anything remotely entertaining") cable movie than "Varsity Blues"? You have Dawson himself (the immortal James Van Der Beek) actually headlining a big-budget movie, which won't happen again unless he commits a double murder and someone makes a documentary about it. You have Paul Walker, Amy Smart AND Ali Larter in breakout roles -- not exactly DeNiro, Caan and Duvall in "The Godfather," but still. And did I mention football, strip clubs, whipped cream bikinis and Dawson mangling a Texas accent?
|MORE SPORTS FLICKS|
|If you can't get enough sports movies, check out Page 2's rankings of the 20 best sports films ever. You'll also want to check out Bill Simmons' ode to "Hoosiers" and his epic column on the "Karate Kid" trilogy. Then there's Simmons' take on what makes a bad sports movie.|
|"Varsity Blues" is No. 30 on the Sports Guy's list.|
(Note: Mox dreams of attending Brown University on an academic scholarship. Why Brown? We're not sure. In fact, it's never addressed in the movie. Maybe he heard that JFK Jr. went there. More importantly, how in the heck could a hick like Mox pull off an academic scholarship to an Ivy League school, especially when he doesn't do homework once during the course of a 105-minute movie? This is the point where the pilot turns on the "Sit back, relax and stop asking questions because you're only going to drive yourself crazy" sign.) The important thing here is that Mox is smart. We know this because Van Der Beek played Dawson on "Dawson's Creek," and Dawson was smart, if only because he was 10 years older than everyone else on that show, too. I'm not saying Van Der Beek is a bad actor; he's pretty good in this movie, all things considered. But he's like Neve Campbell, Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jason Priestley, Ian Ziering, the guy who played Dr. Michael Mancini or any other '90s TV actor who's tried to cross over to the big screen -- it doesn't matter who they play, which accent they use, what they do to their hair ... we aren't accepting them as anything other than their hit character from their hit TV show. Not for a second. And that's that. (The exception here, of course, is the guy who played Justin on "Party of Five," one of the best TV characters of that decade: Smart, funny, played by an actor who could actually act. He carried Neve Campbell for like four years, and she made Mischa Barton look like Meryl Streep. Unfortunately, the guy who played Justin parlayed the role into a part in "Leaving Las Vegas," playing one of the college kids who gang-rapes Elisabeth Shue. Honestly, it was the most shocking movie cameo of all time. I'm convinced that's why they made him leave the show. And yet, I digress ... ) ************** Back to the plot ... early on, six things are established:
|Mox and his Coach Kilmer just couldn't get along.|
Just for fun, here they are, the themes "Blues" ripped off from other sports movies:
1. The hateful, domineering coach who deserves to be pummeled to death by one of his players ("One on One," "Hoop Dreams," "North Dallas Forty").
2. High school football is all this town has ("All the Right Moves").
3. High school football sure can get crazy ("Johnny Be Good").
4. The Texas football scene sure is rowdy and quirky ("Necessary Roughness").
5. When you try to win at all costs, there's always a price ("Hoop Dreams," "Blue Chips").
6. Few things are more pathetic than family members living their lives through other family members ("Hoop Dreams," "Reckless," "Youngblood," "All the Right Moves").
7. The kid with everything going for him who needs to be crippled to prove that sports isn't just fun and games ("The Program").
(Don't worry ... mission accomplished). ******************
|Mox had his options in the female department.|
Production Value: B-plus
Sports Scenes: B-plus
Chill Scenes (3): C-plus
Climactic Game Scene: B
Final Scene: D-minus
DVD Extras: F-minus-minus
Intentional Comedy: C-plus
Unintentional Comedy: A-minus
Defining Unintentional Comedy Scene: A
Overall Implausibility: A-plus
Dated-ness: Does not apply
Gratuitous Sex/Nudity: C-plus
Lead Actor: C-plus
Lead Actor as Athlete: B-plus
Supporting cast: B-plus
Wet Blanket Girlfriend: B
Token Hot Chick(s): A-minus
Token Fat Guy: A-minus
Token Angry Black Guy: B
That Guy Factor: D-minus
Defining Quote: B-plus ("I don't ... want ... your life.")
Where were Kilmer's assistants? Did they leave with him at halftime? Did they even exist in the first place? Were they vaporized by the same Sports Movie Whiteout that made Buddy disappear for 30 minutes in "Hoosiers"? This always bothered me. Then again, I enjoy being bothered by it, if that makes sense. 3. As you know by now, every great sports movie needs a Chill Scene. Without a quality Chill Scene, you're not cracking my Top 35, and you're probably not even a true sports movie. You just aren't. As crazy as this sounds, "Varsity Blues" has THREE chill scenes ...
That's why I have it ranked No. 30. Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.