Have you seen the new STAFF PAGE on The Mixtape Monster blog? For those that don’t know, we will be having 2 columns a week from now on. The first column is by my man Big Soda, and is called “Big Soda & Popcorn.” Every couple of weeks, Big Soda is going to drop some movie knowledge on you cats. His first column is quite the enjoyable read. So be sure to check it out below, and check back often for new columns from Big Soda and other Staff writers!
WORST SPORTS MOVIES: “THE SCOUT” AND OTHER ABOMINATIONS
In sports movies, plausibility isn’t usually the highest priority. Kevin Costner played baseball with ghosts (Field of Dreams). Tony Danza, Matthew McConaughey and Adrien Brody played baseball with angels (Angels in the Outfield). Hell, John Cusack was allowed to play baseball period (Eight Men Out). The improbability of these scenarios doesn’t detract from the quality of these movies, however. What we look for in sports movies, as a general audience, is the chance to lose ourselves in a story that transcends the mundane details of the ordinary game, encapsulating the thrill and excitement that rarely comes along in typical competition. But sometimes, a film reaches this point and chooses to fly on by, reaching intolerable levels of absurdity. The following movies have mastered this art of alienating their audiences. Case in point: The Scout.
In this picture, Albert Brooks, playing New York Yankees’ scout Al Percolo, is relegated to the Mexican amateur baseball circuit after his can’t-miss prospect has a pre-game meltdown, desecrating The House that Ruth Built with a heap of his morning’s Wheaties. Forced to sleep in motels not recommended by AAA and eat – gasp! – burritos, the future looks bleak for Al. Luckily though, he stumbles across Steve Nebraska, an extraordinary talent who hits for power and pitches with equivalent proficiency, but just happens to be wasting his gift in a poor Mexican village. After just the right amount of begging and pleading to get Nebraska to change his entire life, Al convinces him to move to New York to play for the Yankees. This proves to be problematic, however, since Al has since been fired by the Bronx Bombers, who want nothing to do with him or his hot new find.
In a stroke of magic Drew Rosenhaus couldn’t pull off, however, Al arranges for Nebraska to have an individual, open tryout…at Yankee Stadium…in front of representatives from every team in the league. For a moment, let’s forget that director Michael Ritchie (of Bad News Bears fame) wants us to believe that 28 general managers dropped everything they were doing to fly to New York and check out a player that only one native English speaker even knows about. As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, during this tryout, Nebraska strikes out Keith Hernandez on three pitches and homers off Bret Saberhagen—from both sides of the plate. In an effort to pile it on, after briefly embarrassing these two All-Stars (who played for the Mets, by the way), the Yankees offer him what would have been the largest contract in MLB history at the time. Damn, even A-Rod did more to earn that title.
From that point, the movie continues to spiral into a shallow explanation of Nebraska’s psychological problems—those that explain (or attempt to explain) his child-like personality. With a sub-par turn by Dianne Wiest as a Yellow Pages therapist and Lane Smith playing his character the only way he knows how, The Scout becomes predictably unpredictable. You know a ridiculous ending is coming, but you’re just not sure what it will be—or if you’ll even understand it.
As much as I’d like to ruin the climax for you, and as much time as I’ve spent railing on this movie to anyone who will listen, I can’t bring myself to do it. My Netflix queue is a smattering of horrible movies, those I want to see simply because someone in Hollywood thought it was a worthwhile investment, and those I want to see because I’m a masochist. For that reason, I would actually recommend watching The Scout just so you can say you’ve seen the most improbable sports phenomenon of all time. Much like a car accident, you’ll want to keep watching once you start. I promise it won’t disappoint in at least this one respect.
OTHER LOW POINTS IN SPORTS MOVIE HISTORY
“Juwanna Man” – Basketball
Two reasons this gets my vote for worst basketball movie of all time: 1) Teen Wolf Too was a much too easy target, and 2) Juwanna Mann was the original “nappy-headed ho.” Despite being shot in my homeland of North Carolina and featuring a team called the Charlotte Banshees, Miguel A. Nunez Jr’s role as a cross-dressing pro basketball player is embarrassing and thoughtless. It’s like Pootie Tang, except being stoned out of your mind probably wouldn’t help either.
“Necessary Roughness” – Football
Talk about a “quantum leap” – Scott Bakula plays a 40-something rancher who goes back to play college football. With appearances by Sinbad, Hector Elizondo, Rob Schneider and Kathy Ireland as the foxiest place kicker ever, the football action in this movie is like watching paint dry—only faster.
“Slap Shot II : Breaking the Ice” – Hockey
Holy crap! Doesn’t it violate some sort of international treaty to have Stephen Baldwin and Gary Busey onscreen at the same time? Legend has it that this sequel, filmed 25 years after the original, was inspired by Fox’s “glowing puck” telecasts. If anyone can explain how a red-highlighted hockey puck causes movie executives to say “Hey, let’s waste a bunch of time and money,” please let me know.
“Caddyshack II” – Golf
Here is a perfect example of how an ensemble cast can make or break a movie. For the sequel, Rodney Dangerfield was replaced by Jackie Mason, Ted Knight was replaced by Robert Stack and Bill Murray was replaced by Dan Aykroyd. Talk about bringing in the scrubs off the bench. It also didn’t help that the sequel was rated-PG, compared to the original’s R-rating. But hey, who needs to see Cindy Morgan topless when you have a talking animatronic gopher?
“The Big Green” – Soccer
I hate to do it to a movie with so many kids from The Sandlot, but it must be done. This pitifully formulaic picture attempted to enter the realm of The Mighty Ducks and Angels in the Outfield. However, the end result wasn’t even as good as Ladybugs (think Juwanna Mann with a white pre-teen).
**Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Big Soda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org**