The sports movie is rarely versatile: an outsider, or group of outsiders (wrong race, wrong gender, wrong species), have uncanny talent in their field, but the old guard (typically, white, old men), don't like the change the new person represents. So the rebels have to use their talent to blow all available minds and touch all available hearts. Seems hard to screw up, right? There's a myriad of outsiders in this world, a myriad of sports, and a predictable, successful formula.
How could anyone blow that? Here are 50 ways people blew it, the 50 worst sports movies ever produced.
50. Air Bud A golden retriever has an uncanny ability to put the ball in the hoop from directly under the basket. He cannot dribble, pass, rebound or shoot from anywhere else on the court. A dog was used when Shaq objected to a more realistic biopic
49. Nacho Libre Jack Black wears stretchy pants and plays a racist caricature in brownface with an accent just slightly more over the top than Pacino in Scarface. Fart sounds abound.
48. Invictus Do you know how to play Rugby? Considering I've never worn a pastel sweater tied around my shoulders, I sure in the hell don't. So the end of the movie, when the South Africans have to win the World Rugby Ball or whatever, I have no idea what is going on. I know that when they all cheer, something good happens. Probably Nelson Mandela reveals he's God or something.
47. Wimbledon Paul Bettany isn't very good at tennis. He falls in love with Kristen Dunst, who's quite good. Their relationship makes him good and her bad. They break up and both play decently. They get together again and she's bad at tennis. They break up again so then he is bad at tennis. He apologizes and then she comes back and so he is good at tennis again. He teaches her to be good at tennis and his girlfriend at the same time. Yay! All a female tennis pro needs to win is to eschew love, because women are too emotional and distracted, until she finds a man who can teach her how to play and love (fuck this movie)!46. Against the Ropes
Twenty-thousand clichesin one movie
. Meg Ryan beginning her first steps away from America's Sweetheart toward America's ohmgodwhathappenedtoher.
46. Pride Legendary swimming coach Jim Ellis breaks down the color barrier in swimming, gets beaten by cops and called the n-word, and sends swimmers to the Olympics over and over again only to be completely out-shined in the sport's memory by a white goofy-faced big-eared stoner. Why? Pry because this movie is the most milquetoast, boring sports biopic since, I don't know I fell asleep during that one too.
45. Rollerball (2002) You guys remember when John McTiernan directed the greatest American action film ever made? You guys ever think Kurt Cobain was right? Answer that after you watch John McTiernan's remake of Rollerball, starring Chris Klein and LL Cool J.
44. Miracle I paid money in the theater, and it ended exactly the way I thought it would. Way to be predictable, guys.
43. Any Given Sunday Oliver Stone at the height of his cocaine use. Al Pacino at the height of his method of acting wherein he pretends to be at the height of cocaine use (through cocaine use). Cameron Diaz pretending she can do something other than dance goofily or make semen jokes (she can't).
42. The Legend of Bagger Vance One of the best examples of the Magical Negro in modern cinema. That's not a good thing.
41. She's the Man I've always thought the classic wit and drama of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was really missing something. Oh, I know, soccer. No, that's still not enough. Oh, I know. Amanda Bynes. Playing soccer.
40. Teen Wolf Michael J. Fox is scared of puberty but it happens anyway, and makes him a star basketball player. It also makes him a dick. He learns to stop being a dick and wins the basketball game despite being roughly 2 feet tall.
39. Teen Wolf Too In case you didn't have enough from the first Teen Wolf, the second installment is here with Jason Bateman to muddy up the metaphor some. It seems like it's a movie about how you should be afraid of your boners until you learn to use them to knock another dude out.
38. The Pride of the Yankees Here's how sports movies should end: The team wins and everyone is happy. The team loses, but they put up a good fight and realized winning is unnecessary, and everyone is happy. Not on this list: Dying from a disease so awful and new that it now bears your name.
37. Driven Made during Stallone's darkest period, Driven was his attempt to create a new sports-based franchise for himself. It, uh, didn't work very well.
36. The Longshots Directed by Fred Durst (no, seriously), and that's enough for me to hate this movie. Let's hope that he didn't get any nookie from it (he probably did).
35. Angels in the Outfield Joseph Gordon Levitt asks God to help the Angels win the pennant by making Tony Danza a better pitcher. God acquiesces, instead of curing hunger or stopping a genocide. He helps a shitty baseball team with the pennant so that one fairly unabused, not-hungry orphan can end up going to live with a millionaire. 34. Caddy Shack II Because everybody knows the best part of the original Caddyshack was the idea of some people hanging out on a golf course. Anybody could write it! Anybody could do it! But you know what we're missing -- the gopher needs to be able to talk! And that's what happened, eight years after the original.
33. Glory Road This movie was better when it was called Remember the Titans and had Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Mirror-universe-Matthew-McConaughey and co-lead of Sweet Home Alabama Josh Lucas is no Denzel.
32. Leatherheads George Clooney attempts to jock the Coen brothers style, but can't no one jock their style, so the movie is really all over the place and overly long. Taking his cue from the popular acting warm up "Lemon face, lion face," he cast Renee Zellweger as his citrus-faced love interest and John Krasinski, who looks like the Cowardly Lion, as his romantic rival. Somehow Clooney still glides through without any of the shit sticking in his teeth, but it kinda makes you hate the movie more.
31. Sidekicks Fuck your Internet meme, Chuck Norris is a hateful hick and an awful actor. He is no fucking Mr. Miyagi. He's the guys on the beach in the Karate Kid that put beer bottles on Mr. Miyagi's truck and get all scared when he karate chops them in half.
30. MVP: Most Valuable Primate This is literally the exact same movie as Air Bud. That is not a positive. At least chimps actually have hands. The idea of a chimp being trained to use a stick in a violent sport becomes really dark in this post-lady-with-face-eaten-by-pet-chimp era.
29. Never Back Down The perfect movie for any teenage boy who's ever truly loved MMA. In other words, fucking horrible to every intelligent grown-up who has ever lived.
28. Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice Who asked for this? I don't mean a Slap Shot sequel, that could've been awesome, especially if Paul Newman had done it when he was like 82. I mean a direct-to-video Slap Shot sequel starring Stephen Baldwin and Gary Busey.
27. Stick It A bunch of gymnasts rebel against the rules and archaic point system handed down by the judges. In other words, they love the sport of gymnastics so much, they attempt to destroy it. As though a bunch of baseball players loved the sport so much, they decided to stop listening to the umpires and doing their own thing, because baseball is stupid.
26. Air Bud: Golden Receiver He's a dog. He has no hands. He has no knees. How do we determine he has possession? When is he down? Who wants to tackle a dog? This movie is so awful it KILLED the actual, original Air Bud.
25. On a Clear Day A 98-year-old man attempts to swim across the English Channel and it's supposed to be inspiring. My dad is 122, has smoked for 120 of those years, and could easily swim the English Channel. Know why? He's a goddamn American, that's why.
24. 8 Seconds Was there anyone besides 14-year-old girls who actually liked Luke Perry in 1994? So how can this movie ask me to care when he's gored to death by an awesome bull named Takin' Care of Business?
23. Supercross Two brothers ride dirt bikes and compete to be the champion in the sport of dirt bikes. Powerman 5000 features heavily on the soundtrack. The female co-leads are best known for their work in Maxim (not on the cover). Aaron Carter is in this movie. It was so cheap and shitty, the actors playing the leads had to learn to ride dirt bikes and qualify for the real-life Supercross championship so that they could film the movie during the real-life competition. Does that means the actors were really good at Supercross, or that it's really easy to be good at Supercross? Does it fucking matter?22. Ladybugs
In caseShe's the Man
wasn't dumb or offensive enough for you, this features (poor, poor) Jonathan Brandis saving a girl's soccer team by dressing up like a girl. Because everyone knows having one good boy on your girl's team is enough to beat every girl at every sport ever.Shot in Denver
, so, you know, watch this and look at the skyline or whatever.
21. Annapolis Justin Lin should only make movies with the words Fast or Furious in the title. This movie is so bad, even the U.S. Navy disowned it. And they work with Michael Bay constantly.
20. Cool Runnings The whole movie is bullshit. No, really. None of these people are real, and all the other bobsledders were perfectly okay with the Jamaican team. They crashed their bobsled long before the final run, and were never on any kind World Record pace. Plus the goddamn movie stars goddamn Doug E. Doug.
19. The Benchwarmers Does this really need further explanation?
18. All the Right Moves Tom Cruise is the only hobbit ever allowed to play a defensive back on any team, anywhere, ever. Oh, wait. Other than Rudy. 17. No Holds Barred We don't know what's worse about this movie -- that it asks us to believe wrestling is real, or that it asks us to believe Hulk Hogan can act. How bad to you have to be to be unconvincing at playing yourself? Do you think he was confused by the fact that the character wasn't named Hulk?16. Airborne
This is why skate videos don't usually have plots. A feature length version of a commercial for XTREME in-line skates that usually played during Saturday morning cartoons, this movie is slightly more dated in the cultural black hole of the early '90s than Vanilla Ice classic Cool as Ice.
15. The Blind Side A movie so committed to its white-people-save-the-day morals, that they even rewrote real life so that the SOON TO BE NFL PLAYER HAD TO LEARN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL FROM A PRECOCIOUS WHITE TODDLER.
14. Follow the Sun Glenn Ford is a golfer. He receives a debilitating injury. He works hard to overcome it after being told he will never play golf again. Golf. Four blind people, ranging in age from 53 to 92, have made a hole-in-one. What the fuck injury is debilitating to a golfer?
13. Space Jam One of those perfect examples of everything Hollywood thinks kids movies should be -- loud, stupid, filled with dated cameos, pop culture jokes, and absurdly crass marketing. You think Hulk Hogan was bad at playing himself? Michael Jordan really does need to be the best at everything, even if it means being the best at being awful.
12. Field of Dreams That's right. I said it. There are just too many metaphysical questions raised that this flick is content to ignore that add a dark undercurrent to all the saccharine stuff. Does this mean there is definitely an after-life? Are these players trapped in baseball forever? Is this time travel? If Costner hits his dad with a baseball accidentally, will he disappear? People are coming at the end, how long until the government scientists E.T.-plastic-wrap the place? I just want to watch a movie about baseball, you guys. Now I'm questioning my very existence.
11. Blue Crush Blue Deus Ex Machina is more like it. Imagine if during the climax of Rocky, Muhammad Ali showed up, playing himself, and quickly showed Rocky how to beat Apollo Creed. 'Cause that's pretty much what happens here. And it doesn't even work out for the surfer girl, who ends up unhappily married to a really nice guy and wins a Pulitzer at 19 for her newspaper articles about Superman. Spoilers.
10. The Big Green Soccer movies really don't fare well. Take the "lovable failures" idea of Little Giants, add the "one talented player can save the whole team" archetype, but make it doubly offensive by making him the only Mexican kid in the whole town. Also until the movie starts, the whole town doesn't even know what soccer is. This movie is a love letter to American isolationist ignorance. And it's stupid.
9. Juwanna Man Basketball Ladybugs. An actor best known for his role on the second season of Friends spin-off Joey dresses up like a girl to dominate the WNBA after he gets banned from the NBA, and is revealed as a man one night when he plays way too well for a woman -- and knocks off his wig. Featuring Ginuwine and Lil Kim. Not on the soundtrack, in the movie.
8. Ed Joey from Friends and a baseball monkey. This is why America is crumbling, people.
7. Hardball The only thing worse than watching Keanu Reeves try Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing is watching him drunkenly perform the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa." Oh yeah, then he tries to cry on-screen. That part is pretty hilarious.
6. Radio What happens when you take the aforementioned Magical Negro and make him mentally challenged? This dreck. A feature length version of the "never go full retard" joke from Tropic Thunder. But somehow even worse than that.
5. The Air Up There Kevin Bacon is an aging ex-basketball player who goes to Africa to recruit a 12 foot tall tribal African for his college team. The tribe needs to win a basketball game against another tribe and it turned out all they were missing was a white 40 year old ex-player with a blown knee. They even abuse their thousand year old tribal rite of passage traditions so he can play! Hooray white people!
4. Soul Surfer A 13-year-old girl gets her arm bitten off by a shark but returns to succeed in the surfing world despite her injury due to her strong will, and more importantly, her faith in the God that allowed her to have her arm bitten off by a fucking shark. It's very inspiring because everyone knows that arms are as important to the competitive sport of surfing as feet are to the competitive sport of chess.
3. Rocky 5 The worst movie in a series of movies that include a sentient robot, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, and a Cold War boxing match. At least it stopped us from having to endure Sage Stallone on the cover of Tiger Beat.
2. Like Mike Slam Dunk Ernest is an Ernest movie, meaning it's not really a movie, and thus cannot be included on this list. Luckily, Lil Bow Wow (now known by the more mature moniker Bow Wow) loved Slam Dunk Ernest so much he remade it with the giant head kid from Jerry Maguire. Almost left off this list because it has Crispin Glover and everything he does is amazing in any movie. But Lil Bow Wow doesn't rap which makes it stupid again.1. Air Bud Spikes BackIt's volleyball this time
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More from our Film archive: "Neutrinos and the 10 coolest time travel methods in cinematic history" Tim Davids writes about movies for Show and Tell. Follow him on Twitter at @2509