Top 10 sports movies: from blood and sweat to glitter and spandex (Part 1)

Olympic fever is gripping us here at Movie Talk HQ. So we’ve decided to put together a top ten of great sports movies – as chosen by guest contributor Shreya Patel.

10: Happy Gilmore

Chubbs: Golf’s no different from Hockey. It requires talent and self-discipline…
Golf requires goofy pants and a fat ass.

Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is a passionate hockey fanatic who believes that the only thing he’s made for is to play professionally.

Despite his burning determination, there is one fatal flaw in his plan: he’s not all that good.

Meanwhile, his grandmother’s house is being repossessed and if Gilmore doesn’t help pay the $270,000 tax his grandmother owes in 90 days, there’s no hope of getting the house back.

He discovers – by playing a spot of golf with the furniture movers – that his hockey skills allow him to achieve an impossibly good 450 yard drive. He is picked up by ex-golfer and coach Chubbs (Carl Weathers) and enters several tournaments, but his temperamental and immature demeanour soon causes a stir.

The plot is not that great, but the effortless humour and Sandler’s amusingly intense tantrums still make this film worth a watch. Carl Weathers’ performance alongside him results in a comic duo guaranteed to make you crack a smile.

Happy certainly lives up to his name…

9: Blades of Glory

Chazz: Personal philosophy? Clothing optional.

Two world renowned figure skaters – Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) – break into a fight whilst on an awards platform, resulting in their disqualification from the event for life.

In time, after carefully picking out a loophole in the rules of the sport, they realise that they can still achieve their ultimate goal of a gold medal by competing as a pair.

Unfortunetaly they struggle to work together harmoniously and their attitudes often hold them back. What’s more, their main opponents – the Van Waldenberg siblings (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) – are dirty players.

This crude and hilarious film is a fantastic comedy: not a scene in it fails to make you cry with laughter.

Check out this snippet featuring the lovestruck Jimmy:

8: The Natural

Iris Gaines: I believe we have two lives: the one we learn with, and the one we live with after that.

A sports movie that ticks all the necessary boxes: it has the glamour, the fame, the women (actresses Kim Basinger and Barbara Hershey oozing seductive charm), the mystery and the magic.

A gripping film, it follows Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) – an almost impossibly talented baseball player with a shadowy past (subtly unravelled by a series of mirrored and well-executed flashbacks) – as he comes back into the profession to have another shot at attaining the fame he deserved as a young man.

At first he is ridiculed because of his age and because of his handmade bat engraved with the name ‘Wonderboy’. He finds he is constantly being labelled ‘grandpa’ and forced to stay perched on the bench as he watches the rest of the team exhibit a miserable excuse for baseball. Finally during a training session, he is able to showcase his talent, and quickly rises to fame as a true ‘Wonderboy’.

Check out Hobbs’ time to shine:

7: Dodgeball- A True Underdog Story

Dwight: Without Patches, we’re going to get our taints handed to us, that’s what!
Justin: [Whispering to Gordon] What’s a taint?
Gordon: I don’t know, but it sounds *bad*!

As the title explicitly suggests, this is another underdog sports story, and it features enough slapstick comedy to keep you laughing long after you finish watching.

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) owns Average Joe – a run-down gymnasium wanted by rich and famous Globo gym owner White Goodman (Ben Stiller).

Reluctant to give his precious business up, Peter LaFleur has to find a way to raise $50,000 in order to save it, and – with a dreadful team of misfits – attempts to enter a dodgeball tournament.

Goodman retaliates with his team of dodgeball players who seem to be almost impossible to beat.

Ben Stiller’s nutty character plays right to his strong suits and provides a perfect accompaniment to the non-stop slapstick and crude wit. This is a feel-good film for sure, that never fails to serve its purpose.

6: Rocky

Mickey: Your nose is broken.
Rocky: How does it look?
Mickey: Ah, it’s an improvement.

A classic example of underdog sports cinema, Rocky tells the story of a boxer (played by Sylvester Stallone) from Philadelphia who seems to be out of luck. He resorts to becoming what his trainer, Mickey (Burgess Meredith), describes as a ‘cheap, second-rate loan shark’ to earn a few bucks for him and his much-loved pets to get by on.

Stallone’s powerful, testosterone-fuelled performances – combined with the hesitant but tender relationship his character develops with the shy Adrian (Talia Shire) – wins the audience’s sympathy over in a heartbeat. The viewer becomes heart-broken, hooked and inspired as they follow Rocky’s every distressed and disconcerted step.

Preparing to fight, Rocky looks deep into his opponent’s eyes.

Come back tomorrow for the second half of our sporting top 10.

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