I always cry at the end of Rudy. From the time Ed Beatty starts clapping like a harbor seal at the sight of his sun running onto the field until the final credits roll I’m a mess. It’s socially acceptable to admit this of course because movies about sports give men carte blanche to show feelings and emotion. There’s a pass to cry at Rudy, pump our fists at Rocky, or cry again during Field of Dreams. However this magic movie formula exists on a very thin line. What can easily goose our emotions can be an even bigger let down when misused. As with the Force there exists good and bad. For every Hoosiers there is a Space Jam. Movies with a sports theme end up either in a cinematic hall of fame or dumped into the Wal-Mart discount bin. The following 10 movies have earned the right to be pawed through by kids looking to kill time while their mother buys them Chinese made school supplies. Terrible sports films deserve their sad resting place at our nation’s Wal-Marts.
10. The Next Karate Kid
Who could have known that replacing Ralph Macchio’s much beloved Daniel LaRusso character with an unknown actress would be a total disaster? Isn’t every 12-year-old boy in this film’s demographic super interested about what their big sister does after school? This movie couldn’t have betrayed the Karate Kid franchise more unless they had replaced Pat Morita with George Takei. Hilary Swank eventually ended up with sports movie immortality by winning an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, but The Next Karate Kid should have disqualified her for consideration.
9. Summer Catch
Freddie Prinze Jr. could be considered the Al Pacino of terrible movies. He gives one of his signature empty performances in this movie about a summer league baseball team on Cape Cod. It’s like Bull Durham without the sex or banter. Who better to play opposite Prinze in this rom-com than Jessica Biel? Biel is gorgeous, and that’s a good thing because the rest of her seems made of wood. Her voice moves in between monotone and lifeless. She’s a rich girl who falls for a ballplayer, and we’re the schmucks forced to sit through it.
8. Celtic Pride
During research for this list I was shocked to see this movie’s story credited to Judd Apatow and Colin Quinn. How could two incredibly funny people end up producing such a painful work of film? Nothing in this movie works. Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd are at their least likeable as two Celtic fans that decide to steal their rival’s best player played by Damon Wayans. The movie has no one worth rooting for, and that’s hard to do in a sports movie.
7. Juwanna Mann
The pitch meeting for this movie went way too quickly.
“It’s like Some Like it Hot mixed with Hoosiers”
“Sounds a bit dated and cliché.”
“It’s more like Tootsie meets White Men Can’t Jump.”
“Tootsie? I love that movie. Let’s make this sucker.”
It also deserves special recognition for having the worst title in movie history. It’s what happens when decisions are made by a focus group in Salt Lake City.
6. My Giant
Comedian Billy Crystal is really short. Former NBA player Gheorghe Muresan is really tall. Laughing yet? Wait until we put them in scenes that highlight this difference. Imagine them driving a small convertible down the road. How funny will that be? Gheorghe is tall and his head is out the roof and Billy is driving the car like “look at this tall guy in this small car.” You have to be laughing now. Still not? Well how about halfway through the movie we give the lovable Muresan a terminal disease? Now I’m sure you’re doubled over in laughter.
5. Rocky V
Sylvester Stallone could anchor his own list of terrible sports movies with Driven and Over the Top prominently featured, but it’s his fifth installment of the Balboa story that deserves special recognition. This is the film that thought poor Rocky would be an interesting plot device. That might have worked if I hadn’t enjoyed seeing the same guy driving a Ferrari and living with a robot just a few years before. Who wants to watch a superhero without his powers? The villain also took a drop by the fifth go around. Rocky started off fighting Mr. T and Ivan Drago, but now he’s left facing off against a guy with a sick mullet. Stallone even cast his own son in the role of Rocky Balboa Jr. That’s always a good idea. Surprisingly Rocky wins in the end.
4. D2: The Mighty Ducks
Sequels are fertile ground for disasters because often the movies stray from what made them successful in the first place. D2 was so afraid to ruin the winning formula that they ended up with almost the exact same film. The biggest change they went with was placing the Ducks into a world hockey competition. That seems promising until you realize their needs to be a villain country for the Ducks to clash with. No move studio wants to offend an entire economy, and even though I would have liked Goldberg the Goalie to feud with the Germans one could see how that’s something they would want to avoid. They ended up picking Iceland. Do they even have space for rinks in Iceland? The most evil thing about Iceland is that you know nothing about it. To deal with Iceland’s lack of personality they wrap the team in dark uniforms and give them a euro trash coach to ratchet up the evil. The problem of course is the United States should destroy Iceland in any competition short of making ice or lengths of days.
3. The Legend of Bagger Vance
The movie for people who miss the good old days when golfers were white and black caddies were magical. What movie wouldn’t want to celebrate the slow pace of untelevised golf? Robert Redford somehow convinced Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron to be apart of this bore fest. It’s one of those “white guy gets taught a lesson from meeting a magical black guy” type of movies. There are World War I flashbacks–always a winning plot device–and long talks about personal demons. When the most exciting part of your film is early 20th century golf then you clearly have a problem.
It is hard to remember America, but there was a time when Matt LeBlanc was a gigantic television star. Being apart of a hit show like Friends allowed LeBlanc a chance at reading some amazing scripts for him to do over his summer hiatus. He ended up going with a movie about a baseball-playing chimp. It’s what we call an interesting and dynamic choice. The movie makes you long for Turner & Hooch. Lucky for LeBlanc he hasn’t had to make many movie choices since.
1. Herbie: Fully Loaded
Why on earth would Herbie choose a strung out Lindsay Lohan as his driver?