Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dammaged View: Sports Movies

I ran late this morning after popping in Moneyball and getting caught up in the story of failed player turned manager Billy Beane's attempt to rebuild the Oakland Athletics after losing three key players.  Using statistics, averages and economics to assemble a rag tag team of ignored, undervalued and past super stars; Beane's reject squad makes history and wins 20 games straight.  The film itself is immaculate in its simplicity and clarity.  Brad Pitt's frustrated swagger mixed with Jonah Hill's straight laced number cruncher makes for quite the cinematic duo. 

Moneyball is a subtle reminder that sports movies are a heck of a lot more enjoyable than sports.  I could give a shit about sports.  In fact, I loathe team sports because it turns individuals into assholes and crowds into mobs.  I didn't know what a corner back was while I played football in high school, I read about it later in a Foxtrot comic strip.  But give me Rocky, Major League, Any Given Sunday, Warrior, Miracle, heck even Coach Carter and I'm on the edge of my seat, heart swelling with the highs and lows of the athletes on screen and feel like I know something about boxing, baseball, football, basketball, MMA and hockey.

What's the difference?  Characters.  Personalities.  Filmmakers humanize the athlete because if it was just about the sport, non-fans would get tired after 15 minutes.  But the story of the under dog, the person trying to better themselves, the family dynamic of teams, losing but coming back for more, for that one last shot of glory...it's beautiful.  You forget about all the bullshit baggage sports can bring like infidelity, drug abuse, sex addiction, dog fighting rings, illegal possession of firearms, gambling dens, fans beating each other to death...and can just enjoy the game.

Every great sports film includes at least one goosebump inducing motivational speech.  Such as:

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