A Female Look at Football in Film


Blog By: Ellice Soliven

We have entered playoff season, folks. The National Football League’s Divisional Playoffs, that is. And what better time than now to delve into movies about “America’s favorite sport” – football.

As a woman, I can safely admit football is definitely not MY favorite sport. The only reason I can give is that honestly, it confuses me. So many plays and rules about scoring, special teams, downs. It literally has taken me years to get a basic understanding of Football 101, and not until this year have I been able to sit through an entire game. At least the men in uniform make the sport easy on the eyes for me; Otherwise, it takes the promise of beer and pizza to keep me focused on the pigskin being tossed around that 100-yard giant patch of grass.

However, as difficult as it is for me to watch the game on TV, I can’t deny a good movie about football. I suppose it’s the way these films inspire me, make me nostalgic about playing sports, or get my blood pumping. And with Superbowl XLVI fast approaching, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite football flicks. Enjoy!

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THE WATERBOY

Adam Sandler plays Bobby Boucher, a 31-year-old waterboy who gets discovered by the terrible college football team he delivers “high-quality H20” to. Not your typical football star, Boucher stutters his way to stardom, delivering bone-crunching tackle after tackle when he envisions his opponents as people who torment him. In hilarious Sandler fashion, Boucher goes against his mother’s (Kathy Bates) wishes to play “da foosball”, and discovers there is in fact nothing wrong with his “medulla oblongata”.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

As someone who doesn’t totally understand the game of football, Any Given Sunday is a perfect film to watch. For me, it’s more about the intense camera angles, violent tackles, cinematography and colorful montages. The fact that you never see a strategic play follow through from beginning to end is fine with me. Any Given Sunday covers almost every aspect of the sport: the aging coach (played by the ever-awesome Al Pacino) trying to lead his losing team to victory; the washed-out veteran quarterback (Dennis Quaid) who doubts his abilities; the jerky, over-confident, up-and-coming quarterback (Jamie Foxx) who is way too full of himself; the injured players who keep playing and the doctors who let them; and the female, pushy co-owner of the team who thinks she knows everything (Cameron Diaz). This movie is dramatically intense, but most importantly, easy and fun to watch.

BRIAN’S SONG

Just thinking about this movie makes me want to burst into tears. Brian’s Song is the “tough, tender, and true story of Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo.” Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Piccolo (James Caan) both compete for the spot of running back on the Chicago Bears, eventually becoming not only roommates, but close friends as well. Despite the fact that Sayers is black and Piccolo white, theirs is a true, loyal friendship – there for each other through injury and life-threatening cancer. Cue the tears! Though I may be biased – since my favorite football team is the Chicago Bears – this is a must-watch emotional film about the bond between teammates.

JERRY MAGUIRE

A female-friendly football flick. Could there be such a thing? Yes, and its name is Jerry Maguire. With Oscar-worthy performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renee Zellweger, this film is not only about football, but about love, fatherhood, and overcoming the odds. Throw in that adorable blonde kid with glasses and timeless movie quotes (“You complete me”, “Show me the money!”, “Who’s comin’ with me?!”) and you’ve got a football movie any man or woman would appreciate. Jerry Maguire, you had me at hello.

REMEMBER THE TITANS

Based on a true story, Remember The Titans ties together racism and tolerance with truly sportsmanlike conduct. Denzel Washington gives a stellar performance as the head coach of the newly-integrated T.C. Williams High School football team, while the white coach (played by Will Patton) is expected to become his assistant coach in the name of affirmative action. It seems like just about everyone is against the integration. Yet through victory, hardship, a locker room karaoke scene, and wicked tough love from Denzel, the boys ultimately come together as one. They end up bringing victory to their town, but more importantly, themselves. Oh and one more reason to watch: a very young, very dreamy Ryan Gosling is in it too.

RUDY

“Sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won’t quit.” And quit, he never does. Rudy is my favorite film about football. It’s about the determination of the human spirit; about dealing with the hand you’re dealt; about overcoming adversity in order to fulfill your dreams. “Five-foot-nothin’” underdog Rudy (played by the fresh-faced, eager Sean Astin) does all this while tugging at my heartstrings, making me a part of his journey. His dreams to be accepted into Notre Dame and onto its football field are my dreams. When his grades fail, I fail. When he takes practice hits from the fighting Irish just to be near them, I’m (metaphorically) crushed. But Rudy keeps on trucking, and finally… Well, that must-watch intensely emotional ending scene happens and I start sobbing. RUDY! RUDY! RUUUUDY!

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And so concludes the list of my favorite films featuring football. Keep these movies on hand during the off-season, or watch one every other day until the Superbowl. And though I may not know everything about the sport, I do know that all these films have something in common: Whether you’re black, white, aging or just a little guy, if you’ve got heart, you’ve got all you need to win.

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