December 26, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Curing a Holiday Hangover

by Dane DeKrey/Staff Writer

It's the day after Christmas. If your family is anything like mine, then you are still recovering from the three 'overs' — overeating, overdrinking, and overbearing relatives. Luckily for you, there is a remedy that, if implemented properly, is a sure cure-all to your elixir of post-holiday woes. That remedy is the less than often perfected art of movie watching — and not just any movie watching, sports movie watching.

But because there are so many good sports movies out there, here is a whittled down list — in no particular order — of the best of the best; movies you simply cannot miss if you call yourself a sports fan (realizing, of course, that there is quite a bit left out).

Thus, to all you college hockey fans out there, Happy Holidays, and, more importantly, happy movie watching.

Mystery, Alaska

Russell Crowe (l.) in Mystery, Alaska.

Russell Crowe (l.) in Mystery, Alaska.

Before you think it, I'll say it. I am aware and agree that Slapshot, the Mighty Ducks trilogy, and Miracle are amongst the cream of the crop of hockey movies and are worth mentioning. But those are all movies everyone sees, probably more than once. What's great about Mystery is that it's about much more than hockey; it's about life and hockey. Give writer David E. Kelly credit, because some of his latter sins, namely Ally McBeal, are more than forgiven by Mystery. Another reason it's worth a look is because the movie produced one of the greatest one-liners of all time, spoken by Matt 'Skank' Marden. Says Skank, "I play hockey and I fornicate, 'cause those are the two most fun things to do in cold weather." Also note the underrated but hilarious performance given by Mike Meyers, whose Barry Melrose-esque portrayal of fake Canadian commentator, Donnie Shulzhoffer is gut-busting. All in all, Mystery is a perfect combination of silliness and substance, creating an experience you won't soon forget.

Tin Cup

I don't really know what makes Tin Cup such a great movie. Maybe it's Cheech Marin sober for a change; maybe it's Don Johnson without his Miami Vice getup; maybe it's the steel balls of Kevin Costner's character, Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy, who would rather go down in flames than back down from a challenge. Whatever it is, this is a great damn movie. The quintessential underdog story, Tin Cup rises from the obscurity of driving range legend to U.S. Open contender, all in the name of former flame, Rene Russo. While this sappiness is a bit hard to swallow, Tin Cup's unorthodox path to greatness makes up for the pitfalls of romantic comedy. With antics aplenty, including finishing a round with various tools and shovels and losing his car on a bet over who hit a 7 iron the farthest, Tin Cup remains atop the food chain of great golf movies. As Tin Cup himself reminds us, "Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you're not good at them." Watch the flick, it's an ace.

Any Given Sunday

Talk about in your face. Any Given Sunday is the closest thing to what really happens in pro sports that I have ever seen. And with a cast that includes former greats Lawrence Taylor (the original L.T.) and Jim Brown, as well as breakout performances by Jamie Foxx and L.L. Cool J, Oliver Stone's rock-'em-sock-'em portrayal of the fictional Miami Sharks makes you quiver with shock and awe. The movie effectively documents the power struggle that is professional sports: an aging coach who many believe has lost touch with the game; a cunning, cutthroat owner who expects instant success; a dichotomous predicament at quarterback, struggling to decide whether to go with conventional wisdom or creative flare; the prima donna running back who is more concerned about endorsement deals and bonuses than first downs and the team. Stone offers no judgment regarding the behavior of the many players in the Shark organization, rather he simply lets the viewer sort it out and decide for themselves. Foxx shines in dare I say his best role as an actor, with his portrayal of third string black quarterback, Willie Beamen. Faced with the pressures of being thrust into the spotlight, Beamen is given an ample helping of what comes with stardom. Mix in with that then-state-of-the-art camera work by Stone and crew, and what you have is an insider's look at the greatness and gruesomeness of professional sports. Don't let yourself be na´ve enough to think this stuff just happens in football, because such power struggles occur throughout the world of professional sports.

There they are; the big three. Get out to your local video store and pick them up. Even if you don't like them, they are worth the two hours spent. And don't forget to rewind before you return.

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