The Best Sports Movies to Buy for the Holidays
So you've decided to buy a sports flick for a sports fan buddy. Congratulations! A big step. A bold one. A good one.
Now comes the hard part, though. Which flick? It's holiday season so you don't want a real downer, or anything too intense. But what does that leave?
Rudy? Way overdone.
Bull Durham? Field of Dreams? Any sports fan that doesn't already have those, isn't a sports fan at all.
Accept some guidance.
From Hollywood to Bollywood. From boxing to BMX-ing. From zombies to Zambonis. The list that follows has a little something for every type of sports fan. And all are holiday appropriate.
Director: Bennett Miller
Description: Clever manager plus computer plus tight budget equals decent ball team.
Why now? Why for the holidays?: Moneyball is actually still in the theaters—so the gift will feel recent and relevant. The DVD won't be out until just after the holidays, so you might have to make this one an IOU, but it'll be worth it.
And what better time than the holidays—when your sports fan pal grumbles about his one measly day off—to watch a movie about sticking it to the man, about shaking up the system, about a victory for the little man?
9. Rocky IV
8. Jigoku Kôshien (Battlefield Baseball)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura, Yadai Yamaguchi
Description: Don't let the subtitles put you off. This is not one of those dreary foreign flicks where you watch the seasons change in real time. This is baseball. This is zombies. This is...a musical comedy.
Best Line: "What are they doing? Playing baseball. But more accurately, fighting baseball."
Why now? Why for the holidays?: After umpteen hours of stop-motion "delights" such as Rudolph and The Little Drummer Boy, a little zombie gore might be just what your friend needs to clear up his head.
7. Heaven Can Wait
Director: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Description: A Los Angeles Rams quarterback is accidentally taken to heaven before his time by a novice angel. The QB comes back in a new (and out of shape) body. He struggles to get in shape to play in the Super Bowl.
Best Line: "This isn't going to work. You're playing football with a bunch of butlers!"
Why now? Why for the holidays?: Angels. Love. The Super Bowl.
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Description: Two brothers end up competing against each other in an MMA tournament.
Best Line: "You popped his shoulder? Good. I want you to pop his other shoulder."
Why now? Why for the holidays?: What better time for a flick about brotherly love?
5. Ta Ra Rum Pum
Director: Siddharth Anand
Description: No, this is not a Bollywood re-telling of The Little Drummer Boy.
It's poor mechanic becomes star race-car driver, meets smokin' hot rich gal along the way. They dance. The end.
Best Song: "Hey Shona"
Why now? Why for the holidays?: Your sports fan buddy still hasn't opened that copy of Talladega Nights his cousin (the only one in the world who thinks that stinker is funny) got him a few Christmases back. You're pretty sure he has no desire to watch a botched up racing film from Pixar. Yet it's clear he's still pining for a good racing flick.
Look no further.
Your friend will deck the halls while he dances to the great tune-age in this Bollywood racing flick.
Then he'll go to sleep with sugar plum fairies and Rani Mukherjee dancing through his head.
And he'll thank you for it. Big time.
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Description: If you're American and know anything about sports, you know all about this. If you're not American and know nothing about sports, you still know all about this.
Best Line: "Do you believe in miracles? YES! "
Why now? Why for the holidays?: Winter time. A miracle. Seeing a connection?
3. Cinderella Man
Director: Ron Howard
Description: True story of James Braddock, a washed-up Depression Era fighter who makes one of the most improbable comebacks in sports history.
Best Line: "You're going home in butcher paper, pal! BUTCHER PAPER!"
Why now? Why for the holidays?: Strong themes of generosity and goodwill. At one point, Braddock gives back his welfare money because he is starting to make money from boxing again.
2. ESPN 30 for 30 Collector's Set on Blu Ray
Description: I know, I know; it bores me just typing the word "documentary." When I think movies, I want explosions and superheros and the Death Star exploding. Who wants to watch a documentary, let alone 30 of them?
But when you think about, aren't sporting events just live documentaries? And these are the most exciting sporting moments of the past 30 years, with some of Tinsel Town's greatest auteurs at the helm: Barry Levinson (director of The Natural); Ron Shelton (director of Bull Durham and Tin Cup); Peter Berg (director of Friday Night Lights).
Why now? Why for the holidays?: New collector's set out on Blu-ray. Will keep your pal busy during those long winter Sundays after the NFL goes on hiatus.
1. Slap Shot
Director: George Roy Hill
Description: Coach turns a ragtag gaggle of dorks into a winning hockey team.
Best Line: "I'll never forget an exclusive interview in which Swamptown revealed that he calls his hockey stick the 'Big Tomahawk,' and he usually refers to the opposing players as 'the little scalps.'"
Why now? Why for the holidays?: This is to preempt (and agree with) all you comment writers who would declare this list illegitimate if it were sans the Hanson brothers' finest. You just can't go wrong giving or receiving the hands-down best hockey comedy ever made.