Did you ever notice that, in aggregate, sports movies cast some of the least believable stars possible in the lead roles? We all laugh at the thought of Keanu’s Shane Falco as a quarterback with NFL potential before his career got derailed by a houseboat fascination or Anthony Michael Hall as a star recruit star out of high school in Johnny Be Goode, but the list goes on ever longer with head-scratcher after head-scratcher.
Brendan Fraser as David Greene in “School Ties”
Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Walker in Johnny Be Good
Tom Cruise as Stefen Djordjevic in All the Right Moves
On a side note, who named a football player Stefen Djordjevic? He must have come up through the NFL’s short-lived Nordic development league.
Robin Williams as Jack Dundee in
We miss Robin Williams, so like Michael Bolton, we celebrate his entire catalog.
Still, you’re telling me that thick-framed version of Robin was supposed to make the game winning play and become the local gridiron celebrity? You can’t even fit glasses like that under a football helmet.
It goes to show you though, take a couple of good actors and you can turn even the dumbest of plots into a pretty enjoyable movie? It’s the classic “underdog wins” plot with a twist. Dundee (Williams) lures his high school buddy and quarterback hero Reno Hightower (Kurt Russell) into playing a re-match of high school football game they lost 13 years ago. Dundee pulls out ever trick in the book to lure Reno into the concept. Finally they play, and Dundee, after getting banged around the entire game breaks free for a miracle bobble and catch 80 yard TD for the win. Good times.
James Van Der Beek as Mox in Varsity Blues
Mox gets the call to start for the varsity team, when the BMOC, goes down with an injury and he isn’t sure he can handle the pressure or all the Cool Whip that comes with it, but he pulled through for the team and this wound up becoming one of the better modern football movies. Amy Smart and Ali Larter? Hmmm.
Keanu Reeves as Shane Falco in the Replacements and/or Johnny Utah in Point Break
Somewhere a casting director loves the idea of Keanu Reeves as a washed up ex-college football star as it’s happened twice: in Point Break and the Replacements. Maybe it was that inspired role in Parenthood where he drives the funny-car into a wall. I can’t really say for sure, but somewhere somebody says to themself, “Keanu Reeves – burnt out quarterback extraordinaire. Yep. Solid.” Of this whole list, this is the one role that is actually entirely unbelievable.
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire
Scott Bakula as Paul Blake in Necessary Roughness
Craig Sheffer as Joe Kane in The Program
Honorable mentions: Omar Epps as Darnell Jefferson “The Program” and Corey Haim as Lucas in, well “Lucas”