Are sports movies doomed to be boring and undramatic?

I read this Slate review of the movie Crooked Arrows, which is apparently a fairly predictable movie about lacrosse. I’d never heard of it till I saw the article. But from this review, it seems that it simply reinforces what I’ve said before about sports movies being dull and predictable.

I still like my idea for a movie about a super dominant team that destroys their plucky opposition. I envision a football movie, about a team on a quest for its second undefeated season in a row. I’m thinking it would be a musical, with the big number sung by the half-Lombardi-esque, half-Belichickean head coach. (I’ve thought about this too much.)

Even that would just be a satire of the sports movie genre, though. It couldn’t be a lasting formula for films, just a one-off. The problem is that sports are dramatic affairs themselves. And they’re more dramatic than movies, because they are harder to predict. If Hollywood had written it, the Cardinals would have beaten the Steelers. The Giants and Patriots wouldn’t have even been in it last year in the movies. The unpredictability is what makes it good.

I think the best sports movies are the ones that involve rigging and corruption in the game. That way, the drama of the game is subjugated to serve the larger drama of behind-the-scenes machinations. Political issues and sports might work, too. I’ve never seen all of Invictus, but I’ve watched some scenes from it, and it seems pretty good because of the larger political issues at stake in the movie. The outcome of the big game doesn’t even matter to the real point of the movie, because it’s more about what the South African rugby team means to the country.

Figures I’d have to find a way to work conspiracies and political intrigue into my sports movies, doesn’t it?


  1. Moneyball was decent, Friday Night Lights (movie) was good, too. Both based on true events, which may be the difference in making an of note sports flick – real characters, events etc. You mentioned Invictus, which I didn’t like that much, but the backdrop was the reason I bought a ticket.

    1. I think you’re exactly right about basing it on a true story. It gives the filmmakers less room to try to make up compelling characters and scenarios, which they usually fail to do and it comes across as contrived and unbelievable. It’s better to let the drama that really happened speak for itself.

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