All Play and No Work: Introduction

Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 in All Play and No Work | 0 comments


“Johnny, sweep the leg.”
– Sensei John Kreese

We’re all too familiar with the formula for the sports movie. Even if the story isn’t about an underdog beating the odds (either an individual or team of misfits), chances are it will end with “the Big Game.” And how often is the result of that final game simply about victory or fame? It’s almost always a metaphor for something else. Sometimes studios opt for the tragically inspirational, as someone dies or suffers a career-ending injury and their only wish is to win “the game.” More often than orphaned animals in animation, they choose sports stories “based on a true story,” though a solid 90 percent of it is completely fabricated (just look at Cool Runnings).

Sports movies, especially those aimed toward families, have become damn near sickening to watch and damn near impossible to take seriously. The predictable, over-acted drama. The “slow clap.” The pure evil of an owner or rival coach, who will no doubt make a complete 180-degree turn when the hero wins in the end. The painful flashbacks. Often I’ll watch one just for a good laugh.

“Camp” flicks and “games” movies, sadly, look to suffer the same fate. Clue was quite a bit of fun, but imagine the products of Universal Pictures’ four-picture deal with Hasbro to develop Monopoly, Candy Land, Battleship, and Ouija for the big screen. I shudder just thinking about it. As for the camp flicks, well, we’re still waiting for a truly inspired one.

There are, however, a choice few of these movies (sports, games, camp) that everyone must see. Some are as formulaic as they come (The Mighty Ducks), while others are so well conceived (Field of Dreams) that you wonder why more don’t make it to the silver screen.

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