Putting sports in movies is like mixing tortilla chips and nacho cheese - it's always a big draw for moviegoers. Marketed as the antithesis of the chick flick, men drag their wives and girlfriends with the vague promise that a Matthew McConaughey or a George Clooney might choose to sit shirtless in the locker room after a tough loss. Mostly though, it's a chance for people to indulge in two of the greatest, most attractive genres of storytelling: the everyman/underdog story, and the hero/epic journey story.
Much of the time these movies are scripted for Hollywood by real life events, yet are still screwed with to remove some of those pesky, boring and unsexy things that actually happened. Other times Hollywood decides to make their own whacked-out sports stories that would never, ever happen - or worse, make sports movies for kids. Today, we'll rip apart the Disney classic, er, remake of Angels in the Outfield:
5. Angels in the Outfield (1994)
I decided to rip on this version of the movie because:
- It's a remake.
- It's got Tony Danza in it, and let's face it - it's fun to kick Tony Danza around.
To the untrained eye (and by "untrained eye", I mean people who didn't bother to read the movie's title), this movie might seem like the typical underdog story: crappy underachieving team with jaded old veteran leader and a grizzled old manager who takes losing way too badly. A pair of pre-super fame actors in Matthew McConaughey and Adrien Brody are in the movie as players, upping the relevance and curiosity factor. Oh, and the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun is in it, too. Who? Exactly.
So, what's the problem? Well for a movie produced by Disney, and directed toward a younger audience, the film has some troubling moments. Half-naked men running around the clubhouse and Danny Glover punching a reporter out for... absolutely no reason. Oh, and there's a bunch of God's soldiers led by Christopher Lloyd, deliberately tampering with human free will and screwing with gambling lines by helping the (then) California Angels make the playoffs in their quest to win the pennant.
Why, you ask? Because a lonely prepubescent orphan in a halfway house prays to God that the Angels win the pennant so he can - you guessed it - have a family. Wait, what? Well, it turns out that when little Oliver Orphan (note: not the actual character's name) asked his biological father when they would be a family again, the jackass fired back with a sarcastic "when the Angels win the pennant" and then rode off on his motorcycle, filling the air with smoke and various deadbeat dad stereotypes (scroll along to 1:35 in the video so you can appreciate the douchiness of this moment).
There's other unintentionally hilarious stuff too: near the beginning of the movie, manager George Knox (Danny Glover) huffs into the clubhouse after a tough loss and - gasp - knocks over the table full of snack trays to teach his boys a lesson. Despite looking like he's about to have a heart attack (or at least let out a really wicked shart) at any moment, Glover's awkward maximum Disney-approved insult to his players is that they have their "heads up their butts".
After the some hilarious hijinks by Christopher Lloyd and the rest of God's angels (that only little Oliver Orphan can see, and eventually convinces Det. Murtaugh, er - George Knox of their existence) gets the team on a roll, they cruelly leave the players to their own devices in the critical part of the pennant race instead of coming through with Oliver Orphan's original prayer request.
Oh, and they decide they're going to kill Tony Danza who had become like a father to Oliver Orphan.
Hey kids, here's the overall "uplifting" message of this movie: pray to God about delicate family-related issues and crappy sports teams and enjoy the meteoric rise to the top! Until you need divine intervention the most. Then you're on their own. And, you know - God doesn't do this type of stuff for free. He (or she) will literally kill your best player after season's end. But at least you'll get to see Doc Brown pull opposing players' pants down!
In real life, Disney purchased the Angels, leading them to a World Series championship in 2002. The off-the-field lucky charm that propelled them to victory? Jesus? Nah, Rally Monkey.
Next Movie: The Goal! Trilogy