Last week, the guys discussed which sports movie was the all-time world champion, and this week continue the discussion for your reading enjoyment.
Chris: Congrats sports fans, you found me out! I, Christopher James Pranger, know as little about sports as a man is allowed to know! My only real sporting experience happened back in tee-ball during elementary school, and then last month when I was at the Seahawks-Packers game where one team had more footballs than the other team and that was considered a good thing. So when we decided to do our Best Sports Movie Ever episode, my mind went very, very blank, until I remembered our show’s original concept:
“Take a broad topic and pick choices that obviously will not be considered.”
We all remember our second episode, “Best Western Ever,” where Kyle went with Back to the Future Part III and I said Fievel Goes West. It was actually going to be our first, but Dan switched things around at the last second. Point I’m making is, we were just getting our Internet legs, so now, over a year later, it was time to try something like that again.
I have very fond memories of The Sandlot, partly because I always really wanted a group of friends like that, but The Mighty Ducks? I watched that one a heck of a lot more as a kid. It’s a bit odd that Kyle didn’t capitalize on the most obvious and nearly instant-winning pop culture icon that The Mighty Ducks gave us: The knuckle puck. Tell the truth now, how many of you always, always attempted the knuckle puck during P.E. in elementary school or beyond? I guarantee nearly 100%.
Furthermore, Kyle held back with some body blows when I started essentially giving him free shots by mentioning the handful of awful sequels The Sandlot churned out, as well as its perpetual status as the go-to summer movie on ABC Family. The Mighty Ducks had two sequels, both of which were great. I even remember watching D2 a lot more than the first one and then really getting into the concept of hockey as a viable sport … assuming I didn’t live in Oregon where that’s not something a typical kid gets to play. Oh if only I’d been born in Canada, the land of true opportunity and brotherly love! Or maybe Norway, because Norway is awesome. I’m getting off track.
Sports movies are usually a hard sell to me, so it either has to be an extremely good movie … of which I’m drawing a blank for examples … or it has to be a movie about a rag-tag team of kids or Jamaicans who band together and make me love their indomitable spirit. Cool Runnings, The Big Green, Rookie of the Year, Little Giants, or even Happy Gilmore, because let’s be honest, Sandler was doing his best 7-year-old impression the entire time and it worked.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Caddyshack as much as the next fellow, and the first half of Remember the Titans is great until they all get along and the conflict essentially ends. Plus, Rocky perfected the training montage and for that he can never be forgotten.
But Rudy? Man, eff that kid.
I’m not sure exactly what I’m leading up to, if anything, but I do know that at the very least, there is no crying in baseball, though there were plenty of tears on those little league teams of mine, so maybe that’s not even true all the time. All right, quack quack quack, I’m out!
Let’s just get to it.
The Mighty Ducks is a sports movie, through and through, because it does exactly what the genre has been built from: it takes a sport and applies what it teaches you to everyday life for the characters so that we get to learn something.
The Sandlot is a good movie, but it takes baseball and says, “Baseball is f-ing life, man!” and then focuses on a farcical romp to get a ball back. Different thing. The sport in question takes a backseat to the plot. Which is fine, but it makes it less of a sports movie.
And can we address something here that even Chris seemed to fall into? The Sandlot abandons the protagonist (Scott Smalls) midway and shifts the focus onto Benny. Why? Because Smalls finished his character arc too soon. He made friends and gained acceptance with twenty minutes left in the movie. And Benny really didn’t have an inner conflict or need that was served by pickling the beast. He was respected by every kid in town and had nothing to prove. So what was his dream about? Nothing, really. Other than wanting to be famous.
Meanwhile, The Mighty Ducks is clearly centered on Gordon Bombay, who learns discipline and fair play and self-respect by being forced to teach it to kids through hockey. He even got to explore his father issues, which were reflected in one of his players, Charlie. The sport was teaching the characters (and the audience) life lessons.
And before I go, let’s talk about fat kids. Both teams in question had a fat kid who makes wisecracks and talks with a world-weary sarcasm. But between Greg Goldberg and Hamilton Porter, who would you want on your team?
Ham is a dick … to everyone. Even his teammates. Meanwhile Goldberg becomes a spokesperson for the team at times and learns something about conquering his fears.
There’s just more from the Ducks in terms of sports-related fun and lessons. Oh, and less amusement park vomit.
Dan: I’ll get to the points in a moment, but as usual, I want to take my first paragraph to prattle on. First off, The Sandlot …is it a sports movie? I say yes, but only as much as A Christmas Story is a Christmas movie. “Guffaw”, you say? A Christmas Story, much like The Sandlot, is a story about coming of age in a bygone era that may not have actually existed. You have a child who narrates the entire flashback of a movie, romanticizing an era of his life. This childhood story rotates around either Christmas or baseball, and though it may seem at first glance those themes are the core of the story, the movies are really about the magic of childhood-goggles and how they make your past nostalgic.
Oh, and Wreck-it Ralph was fantastic. MovieBob needed to give it much more of a good review than he did. Ok, now to the points.
A low-scoring episode due to much of the episode being spent reminiscing instead of debating, the first point was nabbed by Kyle. Competition is the core of a good sports movie, unless you are a soccer team that’s been ruined by soccer-moms. The Sandlot had the dog, and general life roadblocks, but there was no evil team they needed to prove themselves by beating. Winning a trophy, championship, or anything at all is very important in crafting a proper sports flick, and the Ducks get the point for that.
Chris then evened up the score with the secret weapon. Not a secret weapon debate argument, but the secret weapon that every sports movie team has in its arsenal. As Chris brought up in this article, the Ducks had the knuckle shot. It was fun to watch, yes we all tried to make it work, and it helped the players win. However, it was more of a gimmick, rather than a core mechanic. Sandlot, on the other hand, had Benny “The Jet”. This movie pulls a fast one by having the main character be a narrator that’s not telling a story about himself so much, but of his friend the super player. It is deep, and I feel that’s the reason why the movie’s so loved.
Kyle nabbed a point with the mind-blowing fact that a movie about a child’s hockey team caused a real life hockey team to take up the name. This is a thing, it happened in this reality. I don’t know any other way to deal with that fact other than to give Kyle a point. It rattles me to the core, and I don’t know what to believe …
Driving the nail further in the coffin, and hopefully dissuading anyone who thinks Chris wins all the time, Kyle grabbed another point by making the argument that The Mighty Ducks has a coach, and that fact is paramount to the story. While the protagonist of The Sandlot was one of the players observing his fellow players, the Ducks were operating under the tutelage of Emilio Estevez, who himself was under the wings of old man Hanz. Another key ingredient of a good sports movie is to identify the inspiration to train and win. Everyone needs a coach, even coaches sometimes.
Seriously, go see Wreck-it Ralph.