Football plays are a dime a dozen. We all know the oft-told story of the underdog team having to put aside its differences to compete for the championship. Some win, some don’t, and the journey is often more interesting than the end result. Still, some football movies are worth your time (no matter how cliche), especially around Thanksgiving. Here are ten you can check out between delivery or your third round of turkey.
Mark Wahlberg stars in the true story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old high school teacher who tries out and ends up joining the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team. Cast with Elizabeth Banks, Unbeatable is about as predictable as a Thanksgiving meal. However, performances from everyone involved, including Greg Kinnear as Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, keep the film afloat. Although the PG stuff definitely doesn’t have the dirt and grit of most football plays.
Remember the Titans
This Jerry Bruckheimer production plays fast and loose with history. However, it remains the inspiring story of TC Williams’ 1971 football squad mixing white players with black players during intense racism in Virginia. Denzel Washington (in one of his best roles) shines as Herman Boone, whose no-nonsense approach to the game allows his players and coaching staff to overcome their differences and bid for the state championship.
Forget the awful Adam Sandler remake. The original 1974 football classic, Longest yard, resonates as a hilarious and often powerful piece of old-fashioned entertainment. Burt Reynolds stars as a football professional turned convict who must lead his fellow inmates against a vicious guard. Starring alongside Eddie Albert as the corrupt prison warden Ed Lauter and Mike Conrad, Longest yard is The Shawshank Redemption from a football movie.
Every Week Given
Oliver Stone directs this tough, gritty, and realistic look behind the scenes of the NFL, based on the novel by defensive pro end Pat Toomay. Al Pacino stars as longtime head coach Tony D’Amato, whose career is hanging under new management (Cameron Diaz). When young aspiring Willie “Steamin” Beamen (Jamie Foxx) emerges as a superstar, D’Amato must navigate the dangerous waters of the American Associated Football Franchise and guide the underdogs to the playoffs. The plot is largely forgettable, but the catchy football scenes and explicit R-rated off-screen drama make up for it Every Week Given one of the most exciting football dramas ever produced.
The 1971 ABC Movie of the Week classic chronicles the friendship between Chicago Bears football star Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and teammate Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) during the former player’s battle with cancer. Treacle but effective and boasts solid performances from its two leads, Brian’s song is the kind of film capable of making a grown man cry—that is Beach for men. In a good way.
Rudi it may not reach the same heights as David Anspaugh and Angelo Pizzo’s classic sport hoosier. However, there is plenty of inspiration in Rudy Ruttiger’s ambitious quest to create the Norte Dame football team in the 1970s. Sean Astin stars as our titular hero and delivers a compelling performance, but Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score makes this football drama soar.
Adam Sandler might strike Longest yardbut his initial foray into the world of football was in the 1998s Water child, remains one of the great goofy comedies to arrive at the peak of its fame. The Sand Man stars as Bobby Boucher, Jr. a slow-witted young man living with his overprotective mother (Kathy Bates) whose repressed aggression earned her a place as quarterback on the school’s football team. Silly but entertaining.
While not necessarily a movie about football, Academy Award winner Cameron Crowe’s 1996 drama focuses on the relationship between sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) and rising NFL star Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). There’s plenty of sports talk, bromance for the guys, and quite a bit of romance (courtesy of Renee Zellweger) for the girls. Jerry Maguire is the rare romantic drama that has earned its place among the best of their respective genres.
Friday Night Lights
Peter Berg’s 2004 football epic offers an honest look at Texas football – the good and the bad – in the story of football coach Gary Gines (Billy Bob Thornton) and the struggles he faces when his star player is suddenly injured. Friday Night Lights spends more time on the turmoil our young stars get into off the field but remains a compelling sports drama, replete with a stellar performance from Tim McGraw. The TV shows inspired by these movies are way better, but Friday Night Lightsthe film, stands as a solid football drama.
Listen to me: Draft Day is Hollywood law through and through, featuring contrived plots written by people who know nothing about football and gruff performances from Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, and Chadwick Boseman, but damn, is that entertaining. Ivan Reitman cast his lens behind the scenes of the Cleveland Browns football team, in which GM Sonny Weaver, Jr. the graying one has to decide how to spend his draft choices. What follows is an absurd and impossible sequence of events that culminates with Costner calling another GM a pancake-eating mom—er. What’s not to like?