The League

Liz Kelly
Washington Post Celebrity Blogger

Liz Kelly

The author of Celebritology

No Nuance in Football


Why are football movies so bad? I'm not really a fan -- of the movies or the sport, but since you asked: A big part of it is that they're, tragically, about football -- a sport which, despite legions of slavering fans, is about as exciting to watch as a snail's progress across a sidewalk. Except that the snail is a big galoot of a guy stuffed sausage-style into a pair of lycra leggings and prone to slap his teammates on the rear.

Do filmmakers assume football fans can't appreciate a movie that involves nuance, suspense or actual acting? One wonders when the list of good football movies is limited to one -- "North Dallas Forty." Come to think of it, maybe I like that one so much because it depicts the sport as what it is: a punishing sort of life for the players; a sport that throws them away when all the cortisone, pain killers and duct tape just won't keep their bodies together anymore.

Is there nothing else good about football movies? Well, maybe Goldie Hawn's plucky turn as a high school football coach in "Wildcats." Nah.

By Liz Kelly  |  June 15, 2009; 8:34 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Friday Night Lights was a fantastic movie.

Posted by: mez_ | June 15, 2009 11:45 AM

You can't get a feel for the action unless you played - a player's perspective is so much different - the fear of injury and losing - the anticipation - the reaction - the desire to win - can't see any of that from the stands - you have to feel it to be part of it.

Posted by: agapn9 | June 15, 2009 1:31 PM

There are many football films that are excellent. This is one of your lazier posts, Liz.

Posted by: fan1 | June 15, 2009 1:54 PM

Condescension and snarkiness, especially in such a stereotypically sexist way, are not really comments now are they, Liz? However, you are right and the question could be extended to include all sports films. They all have the same plot: underdog team/player comes from behind to win on final play [add drama with conflict from a spouse or other outside influence (cheating, star of a new team/rival, disillusionment)].

North Dallas Forty was the only good football movie ever made because it dwelt on something other than the game. How about a good movie version of "Ball Four".

Posted by: joebanks | June 15, 2009 2:28 PM

I have to agree with Mez_: Friday Night Lights was a fantastic movie. A writer of your salt should know it's really not about the subject, it's about how the subject is approached. Could you please go rent this movie and then rewrite your article?

Posted by: lazycurmudgeon | June 15, 2009 2:33 PM

MASH was a great football movie!

Posted by: wgmadden | June 15, 2009 4:08 PM

I'm one of those "slavering fans," but fortunately, I'm too dumb and uneducated to be offended by Ms. Kelly's comment. I tried to look it up, but it wasn't in the middle class galoot dictionary. I guess I'm going to have to bust open a six pack and ease my pain.

You can make a good movie about any anything, i.e. "The Wrestler." Hollywood has tendency to boil down sports movies down to cliches. A good writer, a good director and good actors could make a good football movie. Part of the reason why Hollywood uses these silly cliches is that people like Ms. Kelly run the town. It's hard to see subtly and nuance in a subject that you don't understand. If you view athletes and sports fans as cliches its hard to breath life into them on the silver screen.

Additionally, Hollywood has hard time getting actors who can credibly portray football players. Most football movies look incredibly fake and that fundamentally undermines the movie. Kevin Costner can pass as a baseball player, but I can't think of too many actors who look like Orlando Pace, Ray Lewis, Ocho Cinco or even Tom Brady (Ms. Kelly's probably heard of him). It's probably why a high school football movies like "Friday Night Lights" and "Remember the Titans" work because its much easier to be credible.

It's time for me to club my dinner and take it back to my cave.

Posted by: sandvick1 | June 15, 2009 5:07 PM

"Remember the Titans" was great - and I really enjoyed "The Express". I'm probably dating myself by saying I really enjoyed "Brian's Song".

Posted by: arzt | June 15, 2009 6:30 PM

If you don't think there are any good football movies, you just don't like football enough.

I cried at the end of The Replacements.

Posted by: ReginaldSmash | June 20, 2009 2:48 AM

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