Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekly Buffet: That's A Hail Mary

[Tales from an office Super Bowl party]

From buses to grocery stores and windows to wardrobes, everywhere you look in the Pacific Northwest there is a loud and proud presence boasting support for the Seattle Seahawks.

Each year around this time the entire country bursts into football fever, but not since our team took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, during Super Bowl XL, has my part of the country been filled with overflowing cheer.

It's not every day the Hawks make it to the nations biggest sports stage and we are all making the most of it after an unstoppable season that started way back in the pre-season games of September.

Pop culture fanatics can also be sports fans; isn't it better though when the two can meld together?

Inspirational sports movies - I know, just the term could make many want to hurl a box of popcorn at a movie screen, but, at least in my opinion, they aren't all eye roll inducing.

In honor of the Hawks beating the Broncos (that's right, I'm calling it now) in the "Super High Bowl", here are a few treasured football flicks to get you in the spirit before tomorrow's game.


Fans of football get wrapped up in the hopes and dreams of success each time their teams rally out onto the field. Rudy Ruettiger wasn't just a fan - striving to play that game, all while sporting a Notre Dame uniform, was the utmost goal that made him keep living.

Based on a real story, this kid started as a nobody highschool football player. Rudy was always told he wasn't big enough for the sport, yet played anyway. With bad grades his only hope for a future was working in the steel mill with his dad and brother.

His determined attitude makes for a triumphant tale that still leaves audiences cheering 20 years later. It also boasts one of the most motivating, uplifting scores ever written. You may recognize it from its uses in hundreds of movie trailers over the years. Just thinking about the music makes me all teary-eyed and at the same time tremendously inspired to get busy living.

Remember The Titans

Nearly every movie based in the 1960s and early 70's is something I love. It was such turbulent and heartbreaking time in American history, with endless stories to tell.

Another true story (what a lot of sports movies have in common, well, except for Rookie Of The Year) finds Denzel Washington as one of the coaches of a newly integrated football team.

It's Disney, so we're not looking at a movie that tackles (unintentional pun) controversial topics in a revolutionary way, but it's a well done movie that even in little ways reminds us all of the struggles people must conquer and to be kind to one another.

Plus, it features a soundtrack packed with glorious classics from the era, a younger Ryan Gosling, and many other familiar faces. 


The Blind Side

Sometimes I think about Sandra Bullock winning an Oscar for The Blind Side and think, what happened there?

Then, like recently, I re-watch the movie and remember why it was an excellent choice. Every controlled, yet snippy word, out of Bullock's mouth as she traverses the side lines of high school football games or calls out bitchy ladies at a lunch are just some of the highlights of her performance.

Bullock plays the adoptive mother to Michael Oher, who eventually grows up to play football for the Baltimore Ravens. This event happened right before the movie's release and is the team he still plays for to this day. Let's just say my mom became a Ravens fan after this movie came out.

Yes, another "Based On a True Story" y'all. Isn't real life where the best stories start anyway?

Some things I've read about this flick are not as flattering - many cringe at these, "rich white ladies" saving the world stories, but I think that's looking at this movie pessimistically. It's a dynamic story about a nice kid who goes from a rough childhood to being a successful football player. Oher got a push from a nice family, but the talent was all his own.

We Are Marshall

Having a box of tissues at hand will be necessary for any of the before mentioned flicks, but reserve an entire one just for another true to life tale told in We Are Marshall.

This film follows the rebuilding of a treasured college football team after the majority of the players and coaches are killed in a plane crash. Heavy. Shit.

The family and fans are in grief, but one surviving player, who wasn't on the plane, rallies Marshall University to put a team back together. With no other players to choose from, the Freshman are brought in with new coaches, and so begins the quest to start over again. 

It's a movie about how to keep living after tragedy, with football being merely the backdrop for the story to unfold. Plus, McConaughey is there, so that's a pleasing sight to clear away all those tears.

Friday Night Lights

Fans of the remarkable NBC drama Friday Night Lights, should go back and check out the original movie. Both are based on the same book written by H. G. Bissinger and are equally great.

There is no Tim Riggins, or the better looking Coach, but Tami is there

Director Peter Berg later became the executive producer on the small screen version and that lead to both the movie and TV show having the same realistic, distinctive filming quality, that makes you feel like you are actually  in the stands cheering on the team. 

This movie and TV show brilliantly capture the somewhat bleakness of small town life mixed with the charming nature of being part of a tight-knit community. For some people this kind of life always leaves them thinking about how to break out and move on to a bigger and better existence. Just like Rudy Ruettiger, football might be the thing that gets these kids out, or something else could be the motivating factor. Either way the desired end is the same.

Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire is not necessarily 100% a football movie, or a sports movie even, but none of these movies are - they're about life!

There is a large majority of the time spent on Jerry's profession as a sports agent and talking about Cuba Gooding Jr's football career, well, and bees sensing fear, but there's a ton of romancey stuff happening to keep a well rounded audience satisfied. Remember when Tom Cruise was loveable? Those were the days!

It's Cameron Crowe in all his glory, making one of the most memorable sports themed movies of all time. Come on, there's all that, "Show me the money!!" business and "You + Me = Us (Calculus)"...or is it, "You complete me"? Yeah that's the one. This movie has it all, including Bonnie Hunt's perfect comedic delivery, and does it well.

They always say there's no crying is baseball, but, man alive, is there a ton of weeping surrounding football movies. Sheesh.

If you're into the Super Bowl, I hope it's a good day for whatever team you are choosing to root for.

Remember - the Seahawks have never won before. Just passing that info along, since whenever my favorite team isn't playing I always root for the underdog.

Until next time. (Go Hawks!)

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