What makes a successful sports movie? Most lists of the greatest sports films of all time are filled with tales of underdogs struggling to achieve their aspirations, which is a theme that everyone can relate to now and then. If you ever feel down on your luck, here are five films that are sure to lift your spirits.
Bend It Like Beckham
This humorously heartwarming tale for the whole family follows protagonist Jess Bjamra, a first-generation immigrant from India growing up in London. Caught between her family’s traditions and trying to fit in with her new neighbors, Jess is motivated by a noble goal: Be like David Beckham! Jess’s mother vehemently disapproves of her daughter playing football, or soccer if you’re from America, yet Jess is able to work toward her goal with the help of her teammates and an idealistic coach. Bend It Like Beckham is a cute, inspirational story about how sports can break down cultural barriers and give young people a sense of pride and purpose.
The Endless Summer
Considered the Citizen Kane of surfing films in terms of its importance, The Endless Summer is preserved by the United States National Film Registry for its historical and aesthetic significance. In the early 60s, filmmaker Bruce Brown followed surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they traveled the globe in order to experience summer in every hemisphere. The result is a beautiful tribute to the sport of surfing. With it’s playful humor and rocking soundtrack, it’s easy to see why The Endless Summer inspired a generation of wave chasers to buy boards and head to the coasts.
Murderball is crude, politically incorrect and hilariously touching. A candid look into the world of wheelchair rugby, this documentary skips out on the sentimentality and dives right into the intense rivalry between two teams of quadriplegic athletes. There’s no sad violin music, no montages and no hokey inspirational speeches in Murderball. These players like to drink, swear and ram their wheelchairs into each other at high speeds. You may be offended, but you’ll also be in awe of the durability of the human body and spirit.
The Bad News Bears
If you played little league baseball as a child, there’s a good chance that you didn’t pick up the bat on your own volition. The Bad News Bears perfectly captures the experience of kids who are pushed by their parents into play sports but would rather just be eating pizza. Walter Matthau stars as the unlikely coach of a misfit baseball team in this genre-defining classic that inspired countless imitators likes The Sandlot and The Mighty Ducks. The Bad News Bears proves that winning isn’t everything; every game ends with a pizza party anyway.
True stories often make the best stories. Over the course of its lengthy three hour run time, Hoop Dreams takes audience members on a journey alongside teenage basketball players William Gates and Arthur Agee as they aspire to play in the NBA. In addition to its uplifting narrative, Hoop Dreams received universal acclaim upon its release for its unflinching look at the realities of poverty and racial inequality in America. Hoop Dreams will make you want to laugh, cry and shoot for your dreams.
Sports aren’t for everyone, but a good sports movie can resonate with anyone, even if they can’t tell the difference between football and soccer. No matter if you’re a sports fan or not, these movies will have you ready to go out and win one for the Gipper.
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