A great football movie never gets old. You can watch one again and again and the the story will always touch something special deep inside. Here is my top 5 football movies list. A movie may not be on the list because I didn’t like it enough or I haven’t seen it.
#5: The Replacements (2000)
Keanu Reeves stars as the washed up quarterback Shane Falco and if that’s not the most football name on the planet then I don’t know what is. Loosely based on the 1987 Washington Redskins strike season, The Replacements tells the story of professional football players on strike and the replacement players who took their place.
For the most part, The Replacements is an absurd comedy but there are occasional moments of heart and passion. There’s one part where Falco compares having a bad game with quicksand. There’s another part where the replacement players get into a bar fight with the starters and dance to “I Will Survive” in a jail cell.
The best scene of the movie, however, is when Falco goes in for the first kiss with the cheerleader he likes. Nothing like having the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and John Madden and Pat Summerall’s play by play commentary playing in the background of your first kiss. Lucky Keanu!
“Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory…lasts forever” – Shane Falco
#4: The Express (2008)
This is a movie I need to re-watch but I remember liking it when it came out in theaters. The Express is about running back Ernie Davis’s struggle to get accepted into the Syracuse football program. Davis played in the early 60’s so racism was very rampant in sports at the time. Thanks to his coach, Davis becomes one of the best football players to every play at Syracuse. Some say that Ernie Davis was even better than Jim Brown. There are some well-shot football scenes in this flick and Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid offer commanding performances. Unfortunately, The Express didn’t do well at the box office so it’s a little more under the radar as far as football movies go.
#3: Invincible (2006)
Coming in at #3 is another fact-based story, this time the Vince Papale story. Mark Wahlberg portrays Papale, a long shot to make the Philadelphia Eagles even after the team announces that they will be holding open tryouts (The Eagles were that desperate in the 70’s). Papale worked as a bartender and substitute teacher prior to trying out for the Eagles. His wife left him and said he would never do anything with his life. Papale would go on to make a name for himself though, as he recovered a fumble on a punt for a touchdown.
#2: Rudy (1993)
Rudy is the ultimate underdog and this movie is close to number one. Of all the movies I’ve seen in recent years, this may have been the only one that made me cry. Rudy works and works but just doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere in life. His grades aren’t so good, everyone from his family to his teachers doubt that he’ll make a name for himself, and his best friend died in a tragic accident. But Rudy worked some more and he worked harder. Eventually, he gets accepted into Notre Dame, his dream college.
Rudy is such a likable character such that the audience becomes invested in his path in hopes that he succeeds in making the football team. Spoiler alert: he does. How can you not get emotional at the end when Rudy finally gets on the field, and records a sack? He then gets carried off the field by his teammates, all to the touching soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith?
#1: Remember The Titans (2000)
This is the all time classic football movie. Remember The Titans is yet another film that’s based on a true story. Denzel Washington plays Herman Boone, the new head coach of T.C. William High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Paired alongside Coach Yoast, Boone lifts his team up and inspires a whole community to put race behind them and unite. The players don’t like each other at first, but they learn to love and respect each other. The bonds and relationships of a football team bring everyone together.
That’s why this is the best football movie of all time; it combines football with social commentary about racism. The story, albeit over forty years old, is still relevant to the world today where we are still struggling to get along with different kinds of people.