Snapshots of Childhood: The Twenty Best Kid's Sports Movies (20-14)
As fans of sports we are naturally drawn to sports movies. There are the classics that everybody loves, Rocky, Caddyshack, Bull Durham, etc., and then there are those sports movies that aren’t actually any good, but since you watched them when you were little you still love them tremendously. I’ve taken it upon myself to list those movies that we here at The Rookies loved when we were kids. Movies ranked 20-14 after the jump.
20. Slam Dunk Ernest (1995)
When he wasn’t saving Christmas or confusing milk with Bulgarian miak Ernest was a dominant force on the basketball court. As an uncoordinated and goofy redneck, Ernest isn’t initially allowed on the team of skilled black players. However, with the help of the Archangel of Basketball, played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he is transformed into a star player overnight. This wasn’t the first time Kareem had helped out an awful white player. Luckily for him this time wasn’t nearly as homoerotic as when he helped Uncle Jesse find his “Sweet Spot” on a very special episode of Full House. I’m not sure exactly how it worked, but somehow Ernest leading his team to the city championship meant that they get to play the Charlotte Hornets. Unfortunately Ernest’s ego grows too large and, inevitably, there is a heartwarming message about teamwork and accepting others. Finally, Ernest, sans shoes, makes the winning basket, and the city of Charlotte is so disgraced, they kick the Hornets out of the city.
19. Ladybugs (1992)
Ladybugs might not be Rodney Dangerfield’s best work, that would be Meet Wally Sparks, but this intellectual precursor to Juwanna Man strikes gold with the idea that if you just dress a boy in drag and let him play sports with the girls, he will easily dominate. This movie sparked a similar idea in Chuck Knoblockhead Sr. Unfortunately the pride he found in watching me strike out girl after girl quickly faded as he realized I enjoyed rising early to put on makeup more than I did the rise ball. In spite of traumatic childhood memories, this movie is a testament to how much more awesome guys are than girls at sports, a fact that should be reiterated over and over again to all little girls wishing to do anything athletic. Honestly, I would rank it higher, but any Dangerfield movie that fails to star Kurt Vonnegut gets a definite downgrade in my book.
18. Eddie (1996)
In the movie, Eddie, played by Whoopi Goldberg, hits a free throw to become honorary head coach for a game. Although she is ejected, the new owner likes her spunk so much that he forces the current coach to quit and hires her to be the new head coach. Naturally she is able to lead the team into contention and make star player Stacy Patton, played by the late, great Malik Sealy, not act like such a selfish asshole. The plot may seem ridiculous, but the actual Knicks organization thought the idea was so good that they decided to hold a similar promotion in 2003 to find their new President of Basketball Operations. Unfortunately for them Daryl Morey missed his half court shot and to this day Eddie remains the last time the Knicks were a competitive team. At the end of the movie, the Knicks are able to make the postseason by winning a one game playoff against the Charlotte Hornets who were apparently too tired from playing Ernest and company earlier in the day.
17. Brink (1998)
Who didn’t love Disney Channel Original Movies growing up? Movies like Smart House, Genius, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and Phantom of the Megaplex were among my favorites, but easily standing alongside those titans of teen cinema was Brink. The movie is about a group of skater friends led by Andy “Brink” Brinker who constantly clash with a gaggle of Grade “A” douchebags known as Team X-Bladz.
Team X-Bladz is a team of sponsored skaters, while Brink and his friends are just doing it for the love of the sport. A one point Brink must sell his soul and join Team X-Bladz because his family is in financial trouble and somehow someone is willing to pay teens $200 a week to do tricks on rollerblades. Of course he gets into a fight with his former friends, but they are able to come back together to win the big competition in the end. Brink is once again asked to rejoin Team X-Bladz, this time as a captain, but he refuses because he knows his friends are more important. And he’s a dumbass.
16. Celtic Pride (1996)
Daniel Stern and Dan Akroyd play two friends who are distraught over a Game 6 loss by the Celtics in the Finals. They at first try to drink away the pain, like a normal person, but when they see Utah Jazz star forward Lewis Scott, played by Damon Wayans, at the club, they decide to alter the direction of the series and kidnap him. Boston fans acting like something is wrong with the world if their team doesn’t win the title? I’m not buying it. This early Judd Apatow work seems like it had a solid premise and potential to be an extremely entertaining film, but then you find out that Colin Quinn helped write it and you realize why it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
15. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
The first installment in the greatest trilogy since the Godfather series, which itself saw a wildly disappointing third film, is the tale of a bunch of Minnesota misfits coming together to win the State Peewee Championship. It’s a story so heartwarming it almost makes you forget it’s just a rip-off of the Bad News Bears set on ice. The movie also introduces us to perhaps the greatest coach in movie history, Gordon Bombay. A brash, drunken young lawyer whose life was somehow ruined by a shot he missed when he was in the seventh grade Bombay saves the day by bringing in outside talent to supplement an improving team. Sure he stole away Banks from his friends based on a technicality, but isn’t it a lawyer’s attention to detail which turns a colossal asshole into a successful colossal asshole? The movie isn’t without its flaws, and the Flying V may be the dumbest idea for a gimmick play I’ve ever seen, but any movie that gives you such classic phrases as “cake eater” deserves a Top 20 spot.
14. Air Bud (1997)
Yes, it may have spawned a long line of awful sequels, but the original Air Bud was actually a fun movie to watch as a kid. What eleven year old boy didn’t want to find a golden retriever that could play basketball? Especially when that same dog can serve to break you out of your crippling shyness that costs you a shot at playing sports, having friends, or even talking to the person sitting next to you in class…not that I know anything about that. Speaking of weirdly dark moments, Air Bud is filled with them. In particular, any time Michael Jeter is on screen or the scene where the original coach, after one game, chucks basketballs at a player with the case of the Braylons. Nothing helps a kid learn how to do something properly like thinking he’ll have the crap beat out of him if he screws once. Of course the main purpose of this movie was to serve as a PSA regarding loopholes in youth sports rule books and, in that sense, it was a smashing success.