Brought to you by Steve Ramirez
High school football is more than a game, but in someways a fabric of American life. A point that the Hollywood movie industry has discovered over the years, which brings up an interesting point: Which is the best movie about high school football?
Now this type of debate could be heated as much as who is the top team in the Valley this fall. But from my perspective, here are the top five that I have saved permanently on my Blockbuster Online account:
1. All the Right Moves
The Take: This is top dog, the Picasso of the genre. It stars a very young Tom Cruise and we get a side of Craig T. Nelson that we never saw in “Coach.” This tale of the Ampipe football team hits a home run in epitomizing the passion that a community has for its high school football team. The action scenes are also believable, except maybe Coach Nickerson’s decision not to take a safety in the waning moments, which result in a heart-breaking loss to a rival school.
Best Line: ” A fluke? That pass-interference penalty was no fluke. If you had done it the way I taught you, they never would’ve been down there in the first place, and they never would’ve scored, and we would’ve won that game!” Craig T. Nelson as Coach Nickerson scolding Tom Cruise’s Stef Djordjevic
2. Remember the Titans
The Take: This is the true tale of the 1971 T.C. Williams High (Va.) football team and how its ability to put race aside bring a town together. Denzel Washington and William Patton are certainly believeable as head coach Herman Boone and defensive coordinator Bill Yost. I like everything from the training camp scenes to the on-the-field action. The end is somewhat of a cliche, though. I just find it hard to believe in a championship game that a defense would let one team score on a 70-yard run as time expired.
Best Line: “If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men. ” – Denzel Washington as coach Herman Boone giving a motivational speech to his team.
3. Friday Night Lights
The Take: Another true tale, this time from Odessa, Texas. The story is very believable and inspirational. The final play is awesome, because its true to life. Plus, the hidden message – that its not about the final answer but the journey; that being perfect is not about going 14-0, but giving your all.
Best Line: “Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didnt let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasnt one more thing you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman – you’re perfect!”
– Billy Bob Thornton as coach Gary Gaines giving an emotional halftime speech during the Texas State championship game.
4. School Ties
The Take: High School football is nearly a back drop to a film about a jewish quarterback, played by Brendan Fraser, who has to deal with the racism of playing at parochial school in the 1950s. We also learn that recruiting players from other schools wasn’t a concept born in the 1990s.
Best Line: “Was it worth it? Breaking a tradition just to win a football game? – Peter Donat’s Headmaster Bartram talking to Fraser’s David Greene.
5. Best of Times
The Take: This is one of my personal favorites on the list and the only comedy. It’s the tale of Jack Dundee, a banker, who can’t forget dropping the winning TD pass some 13 years before and preventing Taft from upsetting rival Bakersfield. It’s more about adults trying to recapture their past glory, but high school football is the on-going theme. And it hits home to anyone who has failed in sports and would love to make up for it.
Best Line: “I’m not a has-been. I’m a never-was. I aspire to be a has-been. – Robin Williams as Jack Dundee, wanting desperately to make up for his blunder years before
Varsity Blues – A fictional tale about playing football in Texas. Jon Voigt is good as the coach you love to hate. But this is a cheap version of “Friday Night Lights.”
Fast Times at Ridgemont High – A 1970s cult classic that only misses the list because its more about high school life than football, but the football scenes and references are classic.
Gridiron Gang – A pretty good take on the beginnings of the Camp Kilpatrick football program.