I CAN’T believe it’s been four years since I completely ignored the last Summer Olympics. If you, like me, couldn’t give a shit about the ’08 Games, then I offer you this list of counter-programming.
Just turn off NBC and enjoy a marathon of these movies instead — you’ll get the games (kinda) without all the garbage.
I had only a few rules for the list — the sport had to be present in the film somehow, the athletes had to be amateurs, and the films had to be great … or at least pretty good.
So let the games be gone and let the marathon begin:
(And for more info on the films, click on the titles to go to their imdb.com pages.)
Archery: “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) It hits the bullseye of fun. (How’s that for a tag line?)
Baseball: “The Sand Lot” (1993) Kinda like “Stand By Me,” but with baseball instead of a body.
Basketball: “Hoop Dreams” (1994) Great doc. (Runner-up: “Deadly Friend,” but only for the decapitation-by-basketball scene)
Boxing: “Twenty Four Seven” (1997) Black and white, British, and Bob Hoskins runs a boxing club.
Cycling: “Breaking Away” (1979) Obviously.
Diving: “Back To School” (1986) Dangerfield doing “the Triple Lindy.” That’s comedy (well, it was in 1986).
Equestrian: “The Godfather” (1972) Yeah, this one’s a stretch, but has a horse ever had greater impact in a movie?
Fencing: “The Princess Bride” (1987) “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Field Hockey: “Ginger Snaps” (2000) A cool Canadian horror flick about teenage girls and “the curse.”
Gymnastics: OK, I’m stumped here. Does that awesome chase through the construction site in “Casino Royale” count as gymnastics?
Sailing: “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) There’s really only one scene in the whole film that takes place outside of the mental hospital, but when those inmates bust out…
Shooting: Sorry, but I can’t think of one movie with a gun in it.
Soccer: “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002) Fortunately, Becks isn’t in it — unlike our country.
Swimming: “The Big Bad Swim” (2006) A low-budget comedy about a swim class in Connecticut. Even so, it’s pretty good.
Table Tennis: “Ping Pong” (2002) A manga-based Japanese comedy-drama with cool CGI ping-pong action. (Runner-up: “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.” Who knew Winona Ryder had such talent?)
Tennis: “Match Point” (2005) Woody Allen managed to slip in a good movie this decade.
Track: “Run Lola Run” (1998) If you gotta watch someone run around and around, you could do worse than Franka Potente.
Volleyball: “Cast Away” (2000) Best use ever of a volleyball in a movie.
Wrestling: “Borat” (2006) Best use ever of a censor bar in a movie.
Well that should keep you busy. Oh, and if anyone knows of a movie with a badminton scene, let me know… (and no, “Bye Bye Birdie” doesn’t count.)