Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's the near-cataract Eye of the Tiger

I feel somewhat obligated to go see almost every sports movie made. Chief exceptions include the dreaded chick-flick-in-disguise sports movie - and I'm usually pretty good at sniffing these out beforehand - in which men are decieved into seeing sappy love stories that are cast in a faux sports backdrop.

A recent, near-vomit inducing example of this was "Fever Pitch," in which the rarely funny and incredibly forgettable Jimmy Fallon was teamed with Drew "Why do Hollywood people think men think I'm still hot" Barrymore to create a steaming bowl of elephant piss. I never even saw the movie itself, because the sight of them running onto the Busch Stadium diamond at the end of the Red Sox enjoying one of the most incredible moments in sports history warranted my permanent boycott of the film.

Yet, as non-entertaining as I find Fallon, I can in no way blame him for seizing the opportunity to enjoy that moment, since he is apparently a big Sox fan. "You're paying my untalented ass how many million to make out with Barrymore for a few months, play myself, AND I get to potentially enjoy the biggest moment in my favorite team's history?" Add that to the fact that he now will be linked to the Red Sox in many people's minds for as long as he's relevant, and this adds up to a decision that even Grady Little wouldn't hesitate to make.

Anyway, this is all just a rambling preface to my actual post of the moment - the two sports movies I saw this week, Rocky Balboa, and We Are Marshall. We'll start with the one I, surprisingly, enjoyed.

When I saw the trailer for Rocky 6, I threw a WTF look at the screen and wondered if Sly Stallone was being indicted by the IRS or something. But then, after thinking about it, I thought about some parallels that could potentially exist between the Balboa character in the movie, and Stallone himself. Neither have done anything newsworthy for a while - I can't remember the last time I said, "Let's go see that new Stallone pic" with roaring enthusiasm (though he has launched a supplement company, InStone, who creates a horrendous pre-workout thermogenic drink). Both probably also know that, in the back of their mind, they can still whoop these new kids asses in their respective fields. Balboa knew boxing was in a soft, dying era in which Ultimate Fighting is currently urinating all over in terms of popularity among young people (this is not mentioned in the movie, by the way). And, you've gotta believe that Sly looks at that beanpole who plays Spiderman, or Ice Cube in XXX and shakes his head at the severe lack of badassism in action movies these days. It's a travesty, if you ask me, Sly.

Anyway, Balboa is ultimately re-watchable. The fight scenes are well done, the plot line is kind of believable - though I can't see his old ass lasting THAT many rounds - and it's easily better than Rocky 5 (which, to quote Bill Simmons, "DID NOT HAPPEN."). I give it a solid B.

Now for Marshall. This movie killed me, because the storyline is riveting, true and actually captured pretty well in the movie. Matthew McLonghorn, however, ruins this movie. My boy Ricky pointed this out within 90 seconds of this toolbox's dialogue - his entire character is, essentially, an impersonation of Jon Stewart's impersonation of W. Bush. He talks in ..short...halted...phrases, smirks, talks out of the side of his mouth, and even does the shoulder-shrug thing from time to time. It's a blatant, terrible rip-off and amazingly distracting throughout the movie. Couple that with crappily shot football action scenes, and you have 127 minutes of 'what the hell am I watching.' Which, once again, is frustrating to leather-head football maniacs like myself who WANTED this to be another Remember the Titans. It was cross-promoted pretty heavily on The Worldwide Leader, so I went into the thing saturated with movie-trailer hype and was roughly 4 McLonghorn interviews under my belt. A labored D+ for Marshall.

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