The 30 Most Awesome, Bad and Awesomely Bad Sports Movies
There's no shortage of great sports movies out there, and unfortunately there's no shortage of horrendous sports movies out there.
Some movies are just great. Others are just plain bad. Still others are so goofy and bad that it actually makes them kind of great.
Let's take a look at 30 such sports movies.
So Good It's Good (Basketball): He Got Game
Plot: Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is a top-tier high-school basketball talent coveted by all the best universities. His father Jake (Denzel Washington) is serving time for accidentally killing his mother, and Jake gets temporarily released because the governor wants Jake to use his influence to persuade Jesus to attend his alma mater.
Tomatometer Rating: 80 percent
Notes: Jesus was played by Boston Celtics' guard Allen, and this was Spike Lee's first film to open at No. 1 at the U.S. box office.
So Bad It's Good (Basketball): The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
Plot: The Pittsburgh Pythons are a struggling basketball team whose losing streak has made them the butt of jokes.
Most of the players want to get out of town, so the team's ball/water boy (who is an amateur astrologer) has the brilliant idea to compose the team of players who all share the astrological sign of Pisces.
At first everyone thinks the ball/water boy is crazy (which makes sense), but ultimately they give in to the madness. Turns out dude was crazy like a fox because his kooky idea worked and the team goes from worst to first.
Tomatometer Rating: 65 percent
Notes: Perhaps the Pittsburgh Pirates should give this a try because, frankly, it couldn't be any worse than what they've been doing for the last 20 years.
So Bad It's Bad (Basketball): Juwanna Mann
Plot: Jamal Jeffries is a basketball star whose shenanigans earn him an indefinite suspension from the UBA. He finds himself unable to find work because nobody wants to hire a monster douche.
He does the only natural thing; he dresses in drag and becomes a star in the WUBA. Jeffries' (aka Juwanna Mann... GET IT!?) cover is eventually blown when he decides to dunk, shattering the backboard in the process, and loses his wig in the commotion.
The movie inexplicably ends with his reinstatement in the UBA and Jeffries hooking up with with a former teammate who he deceived in a horrifying manner while playing in the WUBA. What a great lesson for all the kids out there.
Tomatometer Rating: 10 percent. Which is generous.
Notes: It's certainly no wonder the NBA didn't want to be associated with this cinematic turd.
So Good It's Good (Racing): Le Mans
Plot: Steve McQueen plays a champion race car driver participating in a 24-hour race in LeMans, France. McQueen makes time to romance widowed Elga Anderson, whose husband was killed by McQueen in a car pile-up (dundundun!).
Tomatometer Rating: 63 percent
Notes: The plot is thin and the dialogue lacking, but if you like race cars, you'll like Le Mans.
So Bad It's Good (Racing): Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
After a bad crash, Bobby loses his mojo and becomes terrified of speed. To make matters worse, his best friend replaced him as a top driver… and husband.
Bobby reunites with his alcoholic, estranged father,
Bill Lumbergh Reese (Gary Cole), who helps him regain his confidence and eventually defeat nemesis Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Tomatometer Rating: 72 percent
Notes: If it weren’t for a scheduling conflict, Steve Carell would have had a part in this flick.
So Bad It's Bad (Racing): Herbie: Fully Loaded
Plot: An adorable Lindsay Lohan plays Maggie Peyton, the barely legal daughter of Ray Peyton Sr. (played by Batman himself, Michael Keaton). Maggie starts out as a NASCAR reporter, but what she really wants to do is race!
Naturally she buys a wacky Volkswagen and it all works out because the movie is dumb as hell.
Tomatometer Rating: 42 percent
Notes: Seriously, Michael Keaton? Seriously...
So Good It's Good (Baseball): Field of Dreams
Plot: Behaving in a way that would get most men committed, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears voices from dead baseball players urging him to build a baseball player instead of growing corn.
Kinsella gets many messages from the disembodied voice, but despite the fact that he built it, it seemed no one would actually come. Facing financial ruin, Kinsella considers replanting his corn (on his corn farm), but he's too stubborn to let the dream die.
Ultimately it works out, and the dead baseball players show up to play a game, and people from all over the country start showing up to watch some ball.
Tomatometer Rating: 88 percent
Notes: In the novel, instead of seeking fictional author Terrance Mann, Ray Kinsella seeks real-life 1960s author J.D. Salinger. In 1947, Salinger wrote a story called "A Young Girl In 1941 With No Waist At All," featuring a character named Ray Kinsella.
So Bad It's Good (Baseball): Rookie of the Year
Plot: Adorable scamp Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a 13-year-old attending junior high and playing Little League baseball when he breaks his arm trying to catch a fly ball. After a few weeks, Henry gets the cast removed, only to find out that a freak tendon issue enables him to pitch a wicked-fast fastball.
It doesn't take long for the lowly Chicago Cubs to come knocking at his door, and Henry finds himself pitching alongside his idol Chet "Rocket" Steadman (played by Gary Busey, which is the last time I can remember not being scared of him).
Henry's stint in the majors starts off pretty roughly, but he ultimately finds his groove and leads the Cubbies to a division title before losing his magical abilities and heading beck to Little League.
Tomatometer Rating: 39 percent
Notes: Character Chet Steadman was nicknamed Rocket. That character was based on popular Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens, who was nicknamed Rocket.
So Bad It's Bad (Baseball): Ed
Plot: Sick of the success he was enjoying on Friends, Matt LeBlanc made Ed in 1996. LeBlanc plays Jack "Deuce" Cooper, a talented baseball player who has a reputation for choking.
Deuce is traded to a Class A minor league team and is appalled to find out the team's third baseman is a hygienically challenged, farting chimpanzee named Ed Sullivan. Unfortunately for Deuce, he and Ed are roommates during away games. Ouch.
"Deuce" isn't the only one appalled.
Tomatometer Rating: An astonishing ZERO percent
So Good It's Good (Football): Friday Night Lights
Plot: Economic decline and racial tensions are enduring problems in Odessa, Texas, but every week football serves as the great unifier. Coach Gary Gaines' (Billy Bob Thornton) is always on the line—one subpar season would earn him his walking papers.
The pressure forces Gaines to overuse his star running back early in the season, which leads to a career-ending ACL tear. Everyone in town demands his resignation, but Gaines sticks it out and, although they struggle, they ultimate finish in a three-way tie for first place.
Tomatometer Rating: 81 percent
Notes: Frustrated with the authenticity of some actors playing assistant coaches, director Peter Berg turned to actual Permian High School coaches to deliver some lines during game sequences.
So Bad It's Good (Football): All the Right Moves
Plot: Tom Cruise plays Stef Djordjevic, a high-school defensive back seeking a football scholarship. Stef is desperate to escape his hometown, and his coach convinces him an athletic scholarship is his ticket out of town.
Stef becomes torn between playing ball and not playing ball; he gives it up after having a falling out with his coach.
Tomatometer Rating: 53 percent
Notes: The name of the fictional town of Ampipe is derived from the equally fictional American Pipe and Steel Company. There is a real town northwest of Pittsburgh called Ambridge. It was a company town of the American Bridge Company.
So Bad It's Bad (Football): Angels in the Endzone
Plot: A ripoff of Angels in the Outfield, Angels in the Endzone is the story of a hapless high school football team that can't win any games...
... until someone prays for them to win, and then a team of angels (headed by Christopher Lloyd) shows up to help them win games. Apparently there's no rule against cheating in heaven unless it's a championship game, because the team has to win the championship game on their own.
Naturally, they do.
Tomatometer Rating: 33 charitable percent.
Notes: This is one of the dumbest movies ever made.
So Good It's Good (Cheerleading): Bring It On
Plot: Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is voted captain of the cheer squad, replacing graduating senior "Big Red." Torrance's overzealous antics temporarily cripple a member of the squad, and sassy new girl Missy (Eliza Dushku) is brought in to replace her.
Missy is from Los Angeles and at her first practice realizes that the Toros had been lifting their routines from the East Compton Clovers. Torrance has no idea, but after the Clovers show up to a game to publicly berate the Toros, they realize they need a new routine.
Ultimately the Toros and the Clovers meet at the national high school cheerleading championship for a showdown. The Clovers win, the Toros place second and learn a valuable lesson, and the two captains gain a mutual respect for each other.
Tomatometer Rating: 64 percent
Notes: Many of the stunts performed by the teams in the national competition—including all stunts more than two bodies high, the fly-overs, and the basket-tosses with head-over-heels rotation—are illegal at the high-school level according to the National Federation Interscholastic Spirit Association.
So Bad It's Good (Cheerleading): Sugar and Spice
Plot: Beautiful blonde cheerleader Diane Weston (Marley Shelton) gets knocked up by beautiful (but dumb) star quarterback Jack Bartlett (James Marsden). Their parents act like irrational lunatics and boot the young couple from their respective homes, forcing them to get an apartment and fend for themselves.
Diane becomes increasingly concerned about the future welfare of their unborn child and enlists the help of her fellow cheerleaders to help rob the bank she works at.
The squad dresses as Betty dolls and pulls off the almost perfect crime.
Tomatometer Rating: 28 percent
Notes: Uncredited writer Lona Williams based Cleo's obsession with Conan O'Brien on herself. Williams admits to admiring O'Brien while he was a writer on The Simpsons and she was an assistant to the producers.
So Bad It's Bad (Cheerleading): Fired Up!
Plot: High school douchebags Nick Brady and Shawn Colfax are sick of football camp and con their way onto the cheerleading squad in an effort to meet some hot broads. Because football players don't meet enough hot broads.
Turns out, though, the boys actually end up loving the actual cheerleading aspect and become invested in the squad's success (as well as a couple of hottie cheerleaders). Naturally the girls find out the boys only joined to meet girls, but instead of feeling like idiots for not realizing this from the beginning, they get all angry and the boys are booted off the squad.
Ultimately they are allowed back on the squad and they both get the girl. That's exactly how things would have turned out in real life.
Tomatometer Rating: 22 percent
Notes: This abomination was submitted to the MPAA eighteen times before it was given it's final PG-13 rating.
So Good It's Good (Hockey): Slapshot
Plot: The Charlestown Chiefs are horrifyingly bad at hockey, so they pick up the Hanson Brothers. The Hanson brothers are "violent goons with child-like mentalities, complete with toys in their luggage."
Shenanigans, hijinks and general craziness ensue.
Tomatometer Rating: 83 percent
Notes: Many of the players in the game scenes (as well as the Hanson brothers) played for the Johnstown Jets, a team in the now-defunct, minor-pro North American Hockey League. The Charlestown Chiefs were based on the Jets.
So Bad It's Good (Hockey): D2: The Mighty Ducks
Plot: Coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) almost made it to the NHL before suffering a career-ending injury. Soon after returning to Minnesota, he is asked to coach the U.S. team in the Junior Goodwill Games.
Of all the hockey talent in the entire country, Bombay chooses mostly his former Ducks players and supplements their crappiness with a few ringers.
Bombay "goes Hollywood" in the film and almost forgets that hockey is supposed to be fun. Eventually Bombay sees the error of his ways, and a motivational locker room speech inspires his team to beat the evil blonde Iceland team.
Tomatometer Rating: A tragic 15 percent
Notes: When Dwayne Robertson was introduced, he said, "It's a great day for hockey."
That was a tribute to former Pittsburgh Penguins coach and former USA Hockey executive "Badger" Bob Johnson, who died in 1991, shortly after coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first Stanley Cup championship and before he was to coach Team USA in the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament.
That was how Johnson greeted his players every day.
So Bad It's Bad (Hockey): Score: A Hockey Musical
Plot: Score: A Hockey Musical is a 2010 Canadian classic starring Olivia Newton John and Nelly Furtado.
Sheltered, home-schooled 17-year-old Farely Gordon has led an isolated existence. His only friend is next-door neighbor Eve, whose relationship becomes complicated as the pair realize they have romantic feelings for each other.
Gordon stumbles into some hockey success and his instant fame creates a host of problems in his life.
Tomatometer Rating: Unknown because nobody outside Canada saw it.
Notes: Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave it two and-a-half stars out of four saying: "Score isn’t deep and there’s no danger of it becoming a global phenomenon. But it’s as true a crowd-pleaser, one that doesn't require season tickets to the Maple Leafs to appreciate."
Well, he was right about it not becoming a global phenomenon.
So Good It's Good (Adam Sandler): Happy Gilmore
Plot: Happy Gilmore’s (Adam Sandler) grandmother owes back taxes on the house his grandfather built, so it’s seized by the IRS, and she is given three months to pay what she owes.
Gilmore, a crappy but crazy-belligerent hockey player, is encouraged by golfing legend Chubbs Peterson to pursue a career in golf after he witnesses Gilmore launching golf balls with his slap-shot. Gilmore sees an opportunity to join the pro-circuit and use his tournament winnings to pay off his grandmother’s tax debt. Gilmore’s brash hockey-player persona clashes with the subdued culture of pro golf, leading to much hilarity.
Characters like the psychotic retirement home manager played by Ben Stiller, the transcendent Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald); and classic scenes like Bob Barker’s beatdown of Gilmore make this one of Sandler's best films.
Tomatometer Rating: 59 percent
Notes: There are no fewer than 14 gratuitous product placements in this movie.
So Bad It's Good (Adam Sandler): The Waterboy
Plot: Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) is kind of a weirdo loner who lives with his overbearing mother (Kathy Bates), has a stutter, and may or may not be mentally challenged. Boucher has a Rainman-esque obsession with H2O, because his father died of dehydration in the Sahara desert.
He joins the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs football team as their water boy, where the Coach (Henry Winkler) discovers that with the proper motivation, Boucher goes berserk (sort of like Forrest Gump’s running ability, but manifests itself in rage). This of course, lands him a roster spot as a linebacker.
Tomatometer Rating: 32 percent (74 from the audience)
Notes: Somehow Bill Cowher was talked into making a cameo in this flick.
So Bad It's Bad (Adam Sandler): The Longest Yard
Plot: The classic original film was a dark comedy starring Burt Reynolds as Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, a disgraced former pro quarterback who is sent prison after getting trashed and “stealing” his girlfriend’s car.
The warden of the prison, who is a real a-hole and runs a semi-pro football team made up of prison guards, wants Crewe to coach the team. Crewe refuses and gets brutally punished until he relents and agrees to form a prison team to play the guards in an exhibition ‘tune-up’ game.
After initially sabotaging his team’s effort, Crewe brings them back and beats the warden’s team. Now replace Reynolds with Adam Sandler, toss in Chris Rock and Nelly (yes, Nelly) for good measure, and this cult classic is ruined.
Tomatometer Rating: 31 percent
Notes: Burt Reynolds stars in the remake, not reprising his original role (obviously), but as a former championship college coach and fellow prisoner. Even his mustache couldn’t save this film.
So Good It's Good (Surfing): Point Break
Plot: The FBI is hot on the trail of a bank-robbing surfer gang calling themselves the "ex-presidents." The Feds send hot-shot newbie agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) to infiltrate the gang and befriend their leader, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).
Utah has to learn how to surf and initially finds it difficult to fit in, but as he learns, he becomes drawn to the adrenaline junkie lifestyle. Bodhi and Utah develop an unlikely friendship that clouds the FBI agent's judgement.
Ultimately, Utah arrests Bodhi, but then lets him surf one last wave that he knows will take Bodhi's life. After he lets Bodhi walk away, Utah walks away from the FBI.
Tomatometer Rating: 67 by pretentious critics and 75 percent by the awesome audience
Notes: The girl seen dancing (after the guy shakes his tongue at the camera) when Utah enters Bodhi's house party is the same dancer in Billy Idol's 'Cradle of Love' music video.
So Bad It's Good (Surfing): Blue Crush
Plot: Surfer girl Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) finds herself raising her 14-year-old sister when her skank of a mother leaves them alone in Hawaii after moving to Las Vegas with a boyfriend.
Anne Marie is training to for a competition that could earn her the opportunity to go pro when she catches the eye of an NFL quarterback in town for the Pro Bowl.
Their relationship temporarily derails her training and her relationship with her best friend Eden (Michelle Rodriguez), but ultimately Anne Marie sorts it all out, and all's well that ends well.
Tomatometer Rating: A surprising 61 percent
Notes: For the big competition scene, a male pro surfer was used, complete with wig, bikini and shaved legs. But in the final edit, he was digitally replaced with Kate Bosworth, with only his feet remaining in the film.
So Bad It's Bad (Surfing): Surfer Dude
Plot: Steve Addington suffers an existential crisis when no waves come for a month.
He freaks out.
Tomatometer Rating: A well-earned ZERO percent
Woody Harrelson has called being in this film "the most non-work I've ever done."
Willie Nelson accepted his part without reading the script.
So Good It's Good (Boxing): The Fighter
Plot: This award-winning biopic is about welterweight boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), who is a former boxer most famous for knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard… and being a junkie.
The film follows Ward as he tries to break out as a professional boxer while struggling with his brother’s antics and his mother’s mismanagement of his career.
The movie was set and filmed in the working class Boston suburb of Lowell, Massachusetts (cue obligatory Dropkick Murphys song).
Tomatometer Rating: 91 percent, which is criminally low in my opinion
Notes: Though the real Mickey Ward was a right-handed boxer, the left-handed Mark Wahlberg portrayed him as a southpaw.
So Bad It's Good (Boxing): Annapolis
Plot: Jake Huard (James Franco) has natural talent as a boxer and was raised by his single father, a worker who helps build ships for the Navy.
Jake dreams of going to the Naval Academy and finally gets the opportunity. Huard struggles with academics and authority, but finds his focus training for the Midshipmen boxing tournament at the end of the year.
Amidst upperclassman hazing, lady problems and his roommate’s suicide attempt, Jake nearly beats the company’s commanding officer in the tournament, winning the respect of his classmates and instructors. Campy, cheesy fun, hooray!
Tomatometer Rating: 10 percent
Notes: The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense said thanks, but no thanks, to offering support for the film. That explains every ‘official’ Navy emblem being inscribed with “Narvy”… kidding!
So Bad It's Bad (Boxing): Rocky V
To make matters worse, his accountant blew his entire fortune on bad business deals and other shenanigans. Facing bankruptcy, Rocky wants to fight No. 1 contender Union Cain, but after learning he has brain damage, he’s forced to vacate his championship.
He decides to groom a raw, talented young boxer named Tommy Gunn, who ultimately betrays him, but Rocky gets the last laugh when he beats him down in a street brawl.
Tomatometer Rating: 27 percent
Notes: Rocky V marks the not-so-triumphant return of director John Avildsen, who won an Oscar for his work on the first Rocky.
So Good It's Good (Basketball): Hoosiers
Plot: In 1951, high school teacher and basketball coach Normal Dale (Gene Hackman) arrives in rural Hickory, Indiana, seeking redemption after losing his last coaching job for smacking around one of his players (Bobby Knight School ‘o Coaching).
Dale is hired as the new coach of Hickory’s basketball team, and despite his abrasive style and the effort of a fellow teacher to keep the school’s best player off the team, leads the team to a state championship.
Along the way, Dale hires the town drunk (and basketball savant) “Shooter” as his assistant coach, and eventually they fall in love (just kidding!).
Tomatometer Rating: 88 percent
Notes: Dennis Hopper won an Oscar for his role as “Shooter.” Is there a better actor for the part of an erratic alcoholic basketball wiz?
So Bad It's Good (Basketball): Teen Wolf
Plot: Middling high school student and so-so basketball player Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) discovers one night after a party that he is a werewolf, and also learns from his father that it runs in the family.
In the wacky universe of Teen Wolf, this transformation doesn’t send Howard on a murderous rampage, but rather, turns him into a hairy version of Kevin Garnett. Not only do his werewolf powers give him the ability to dominate in the paint, but he also crushes beers like a champ, catching the attention of dream girl Pamela Wells.
Eventually, he learns that nothing can replace just being himself (lame), winning the final game against the hated Dragons without “wolfing out,” and choosing his childhood friend “Boof” over Pamela.
Tomatometer Rating: 50 percent
Notes: If nothing else, we can thank Teen Wolf for the very loosely connected Teen Witch, and more specifically, one of the greatest scenes of all time.
So Bad It's Bad (Basketball): Slam Dunk Ernest
Plot: Remember how the Caveman characters from the GEICO commercial were kinda funny, so some genius television executives decided to try to cash in on their popularity by producing a 30-minute, primetime sitcom based on their misadventures?
I bet you do, but I would also bet you don’t remember ever actually watching the show. Yeah, it was cancelled. “Ernest P. Worrell,” aka Jim Varney, was one of the pioneers of trying to turn a dumb, but somewhat amusing, advertising campaign into a multimedia empire.
He made a bunch of Ernest “movies,” including this one, where he joins a city league basketball team and learns from an angel, played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, that his shoes have supernatural powers. Ugh..
Tomatometer Rating: 20 percent
Notes: Varney made SIXTEEN Ernest movies. He only stopped because he died.