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Jun 11, 2007

Sports Movie UMVPs

Just for posterity's sake, and so that I can get double the mileage points for this column - here's the post I wrote last week for The Hater Nation.


When Adam asked me to write something for THN, I was honored at first, then excited, then a bit terrified. After all, even though I'm a sports fan, I'm nowhere near the fanatic (or writer) that many sports bloggers are. Also, I write a blog that is 94% about movies, 3% about other pop culture happenings, and 3% sports (maybe). So there was certainly a challenge to writing something in my strengths to a sports-demanding audience.

Then again, there are a whole lot of movie fans out there, and there are a whole lot of sports films to admire and/or mock (and sometimes both at the same time).

I thought I'd start by handing out some kudos to some of the unheralded sports movie characters (or actors). Sure, everyone talks about how Kevin Costner was great in Bull Durham and that Tim Robbins throws like a girl, or that Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield owned Caddyshack, but what about Brian Doyle-Murray? Let's pat some backs...

Jay Tarses, "Coach Bobby Flinstock," Teen Wolf
Amongst the unheralded MVPs, this guy is the MVP. One quote says it all:
"There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese."

Brian Doyle-Murray, "Lou Loomis," Caddyshack
Chevy, Rodney, and younger brother Bill get all the attention here, but Brian (who co-wrote Caddyshack with Harold Ramis) deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the movie. Aside from writing it, he was the official during the finale and also told a kid to "pick up that blood." Classic.

Omar Epps, "Willie Mays Hayes," Major League II
No, he didn't originate the role, but as the only major character in the sequel to Major League to be played by someone else, Epps had some large shoes to fill playing the character that Wesley Snipes built. And he does what amounts to a great impersonation. Unfortunately, that kind of laid out a pattern for his career - picking up the slop that Wesley didn't want. Though I guess with a steady gig on House, Omar's probably not too concerned with that these days (where'd Wesley go, anyway?).

Jimmy Fallon, "Ben Wrightman," Fever Pitch
Coming off the wildly successful Taxi, Fallon stepped into the batter's box and nailed one out of the park with this Farrelly brother-directed ode to the Red Sox. Showing such great chemistry with co-star Drew Barrymore, Jimmy --

Scott Caan, "Charlie Tweeder," Varsity Blues
I'm not interested in Billy Bob Thornton and Friday Night Lights - I want to see James Van Der Beek tell his dad, "I don't want...your life!" Meanwhile, Scott Caan steals all of his scenes with his sheer obnoxiousness and bizarre brand of machismo, highlighted by this throwaway sequence between Van Der Beek's "Mox" and "Tweeder":
Mox: Tweeder, you think you'll enjoy prison?
Charlie Tweeder: [not paying attention] I don't know.
[looks up]
Charlie Tweeder
: What?

Kelly Preston, "Avery Bishop," Jerry Maguire

'Nuff said.

Allen Covert, "Otto," Happy Gilmore
Long before he became officially known as "one of Adam Sandler's buddies that appears in all his movies," Covert's homeless man plucked from the street to be Happy's caddy practically stole all of his Gilmore scenes, despite barely uttering a word the whole time. Gold.

Bolo Yeung, "Chong Li," Bloodsport
You'd think that playing the lead villain in one of the most enjoyable guilty pleasure films of all time would have made Yeung a star in America - after all, the guy was in Enter the Dragon some 15 years (!) earlier. But no, while Jackie Chan crossed over to fame, fortune, and a horrible franchise with Chris Tucker, Bolo was relegated to being Van Damme's nemesis in Double Impact. Ouch.

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