Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Melodramatic Match: A Review and General Commentary on the Inspirational Sports Movie Genre

The inspirational sports movie genre is one of the most popular genres out there. For some reason, Americans love movies like Rudy, Remember the Titans, Glory Road, and The Rookie--even though these movies all share the same basic plot and characters. Usually, whenever a movie like those mentioned above comes to the theater, I roll my eyes and say something sarcastic about it. 

To my wife's surprise, though, I recently brought home a copy of The Miracle Match, an "inspirational" movie (originall titled The Game of Their Lives) about an underdog American soccer team and its experience at the 1950 World Cup. Admittedly, I knew the movie was going to be crap before I watched (I mean, it was from the makers of Rudy), but part of it was filmed in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I served my mission, and I was feeling nostalgic. 

To my disappointment, of course, only the last fifteen minutes of the movie took place in Belo Horizonte--and then only inside one of the soccer stadiums there. The rest of movie took place in two less exotic locales: Saint Louis and New York City. 

Over all, The Miracle Match is really not worth your time...unless you like movies that contain the following:
  • A highly predictable formula (i.e.--An underdog team, composed of misfits with strong personalities, defies all odds and beats a seemingly unbeatable foe).
  • An inspirational speech every five minutes or so (accompanied, of course, by inspirationally crappy inspirational "speech music").
  • Heart-warming messages about teamwork, brotherhood, determination, and courage.
  • Stock sports movie characters: the team jerk, the insecure leader (who ultimately finds his inner strength), the team goofball, etc.
  • An injury or some other physical ailment that occurs to a key player one hour into the movie, which temporarily threatens the team's chance of victory.
  • Former child stars.
  • An excess of slow-motion photography.
Of course, some of you may be saying, "Aww, Scott, you just don't like sports movies." 

Well, that's not entirely true. In my defense, I've compiled a list of "approved" sports movies. A lot of them are even inspirational. Here they are:
  • The Karate Kid
  • The Karate Kid, Part II
  • Rocky
  • The Natural
  • The Pride of the Yankees
  • Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius
  • Chariots of Fire
  • The Cinderella Man (My favorite sports movie)
  • The Greatest Game Ever Played
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Gentleman Jim
I am sure there are other great sports movies out there, of course. If you have any recommendations, let me know. 


  1. I have to disagree there are no football movies on that list. What about rudy, radio, remember the titans or my personal favorite Friday Night Lights. I think football movies get a bad rap because people think it's about the hitting. I am looking forward to the new one coming out this month.

  2. I guess I don't have any football movies on the list. I've just never seen any I liked. I ought to check out Friday Night Lights. I've never seen it but I hear it's good.

  3. You have a good list of sports movies. However, I would add Remember the Titans - it is one of my favorites. (I generally don't like the football ones but I really liked that one.)

  4. Scott, Scott, Scott, I can't believe you left "Facing The Giants" off of your list. If you havent seen this movie, you need to. I think it would change your opinion about football movies