Attack of the Sports Flicks

Is it a back-to-school go-varsity thing? Is it a return-of-Monday-night-football/baseball-playoff-season thing? Or is it just that you can't go wrong with a movie about boys and their toys? Opening this Friday are two sports-themed films: the Rock coaches delinquents in Gridiron Gang, and a young Yankee fan and his talking baseball go on a quest to find Babe Ruth's stolen lucky bat in the CGI-animated Everyone's Hero. New on DVD today is Goal! The Dream Begins, the Mexican-immigrant-to-Los-Angeles-makes-good-on-the-soccer-fields-of-England drama from last spring. And still riding high at the multiplex are NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby [read my review on] and Invincible [read my review on], the working-class-schmoe-from-the-wrong-side-of-Philly-makes-good-in-the-NFL drama.

But honestly, how many football movies does humanity have in it? How many times can baseball be a cinematic metaphor for life or God or a guy's relationship with his dad? Talladega Nights showed what can be done when Hollywood branches out from the bologna-and-American-cheese of sports and starts thinking a little more liverwurst or spiced ham. Here, as a public service to Hollywood, I offer a few ideas for the next great sports movies:

  • Stickball It to the Man (urban drama)
    In the inner city, all a young man has are his homies. This incisive and heartbreaking drama follows the trials and tribulations of Malcolm -- aka HomePlate -- as he navigates an urban jungle of gang politics, corrupt cops, and absent dads, with the help of his best homies: his stickball team. With Laurence Fishburne as the school's principal, and Alfre Woodard as Mom.
  • The Bad News Badminton Team Goes to China (family film)
    It's wild fun for the whole family as the losingest badminton team ever -- the Munton (Iowa) Elementary School Pumpkins -- wins a wildcard spot in the World Shuttlecock Championships and travels to Beijing for the big tournament. The cockles of your heart will be warmed as the kids discover just how good they can be when they give it their all. And watch for the chopstick scene: it's a riot!
  • Jiminy Cricket! (romantic comedy)
    There's not enough tea in England to thaw the cold heart of cricket superstar/blueblood playboy Clive Fotheringill (Jude Law) ... but then he meets a vivacious American cartoonist on a whirlwind vacation in London (Scarlett Johansson). Will the maiden bowl him over? With Rowan Atkinson as The Silly Vicar. A joint production of Disney and BBC Sport.
  • National Lampoon's Bocce! The True Story of a Guy With Balls (juvenile grossout)
    When the prepsters of Phi Beta Gamma fraternity challenge the dorks of Zeta Zeta Zeta to a winner-take-all bocce tournament for the title of kings of the campus, the school losers -- led by Scooter McMuckle (Will Ferrell), now entering his tenth year as an undergrad -- are ready to pull out all the stops necessary in order to win. Find out why the Zeta Zeta Zetas have a reputation for playing dirty!

High-powered studio execs: All these guaranteed box-office winners are available for immediate optioning. Contact the management for more information.

MaryAnn Johanson
author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride
minder of