BOSTON (CBS) – If you missed it yesterday, I analyzed the movies A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and In Time by way of their sports counterparts using a new game I like to call, “Movies…On the Field.”
Once again, the rules to the game are simple – you watch a movie, examine its core attributes and think, “Where have I seen this before in sports?” Maybe it’s an athlete or an entire team; the trick is trying to find the best fit.
The first two movies were fun, but they were just the start to my very busy, four-movie escapade at the theater last Monday, so let’s finish the hop with a couple more flicks. Again, don’t fret, there are no spoilers below.
Eddie Murphy said the idea for Tower Heist originally came about a few years ago and was written to feature all black comics like him, Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, Mike Epps and others, making what would surely turn out to be a very different movie. Instead, as Jimmy Kimmel put it, they wound up with Ferris Bueller and Alan Alda.
Tower Heist was movie three for us on the day, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was funny, kept my interest, had a good story of redemption and fighting for the greater good, while doing so in a comedic way, and it was a reemergence for Eddie.
Murphy, at 50-years-old, was his 1980’s self in a more reduced role. I won’t go so far as to say he and this movie were funny in the way that 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Coming to America or the Beverly Hill Cop movies were funny, because they never had a prayer of reaching that level. However, I will say it’s the closest Murphy has come to such a plateau since those movies, and they are all more than 20 years old. In other words, the man from Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood is back on my radar. Your turn, Michael Keaton.
As for the movie itself, it’s written by Ted Griffin, who wrote Ocean’s 11, and Jeff Nathanson, who’s currently developing a Milli Vanilli biopic. Oh, and he did Catch Me If You Can. Like Ocean’s, it’s a comedic crime caper with an ensemble cast and a stick-to-the-man story with a twist of Bernie Madoff-like behavior. Check out the trailer for more.
I viewed the attributes for this one to include the following: A talented and balanced cast or skill-set, selfless in the face of controversy, possessing several strengths or talents, and not an all-time great, but ultimately a winner.
When discussing individuals, names like Robert Horry, Dennis Johnson and Fred Couples were brought to my attention, and I think a strong case could be made for any of them. I couldn’t get teams out of my mind for this one, though, and – maybe because of the movie’s story with an evil boss – I kept going back to the Marge Schott Cincinnati Reds clubs of a while back.
Schott was in control of the Reds for nearly two decades and people hated her. Her players, her employees, many in the public,
even her St. Bernards. She was a regular Rachel Phelps. But, while breaking boundaries as the first woman to buy a team rather than inherit one, she was best known for her controversial behavior, making a number of asinine and condemning remarks towards African-Americans, Jews and homosexuals, many of whom were under her employ. She even stated her support of Hitler’s policies. Hitler! You just don’t do that! This old witch was deemed so evil she was made fun of on sitcoms like “Married With Children” and “In Living Color”. Schott was the embodiment of an awful person, not unlike the successful man at the top of the tower that Ben Stiller and Murphy’s crew hoped to rob.
Her teams, however, were talented and largely stuck together, led by the likes of Barry Larkin, Jose Rijo, Tom Browning, Paul O’Neil and Eric Davis on the field, and Lou Piniella, Pete Rose and Davey Johnson in the dugout. Schott was in charge of the club from 1984-99, during which time it won a World Series over Oakland in 1990, lost in the NLCS in 1995 and finished no worse than second place in its division seven times. All things considered, the club was viewed as a winner that succeeded in spite of a mean, cheap and unsupportive owner, certainly not because of her.
Now just imagine if Eddie Murphy led an attempt to rob her back then? Raw, baby.
Our eventful movie day finished up with Real Steel, otherwise known as a movie that featured Hugh Jackman in a manly, yet sensitive role, and the first thing anyone’s seen Evangeline Lilly in since “Lost”. I’d missed Kate more than I realized, but I spent half the movie looking for Jack, Sawyer and Hurley.
Listen, if robot-fighting is the evolution of boxing, I’m in. I like boxing and wrestling and I’m intrigued by MMA and the UFC, but gambling on robot fights is just the next wave of crazy that needs to take place. If the writers are on target, we’ll be there in 2020, and I’ll be waiting. For your modern-day, video game-like rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots, here’s the trailer.
I enjoyed this movie as much as any of the others on the day for its creativity and its predictably fun entertainment value. Our attributes are clear in this father-son tale – it’s a tale of redemption, a true David vs. Goliath, it’s fun to watch, features undeniable talent and it’s a heart-warming story where you’re rooting for the underdog.
There are lots of potential answers here, courtesy of my buddies. Suggested were the “Miracle on Ice” team of the 1980 Olympics, the 2010 and 2011 hoops runner-ups from Butler University, and the 1983 NC State basketball title win over Houston. There are plenty more to choose from.
However, I’m going to go with my buddy Pat’s suggestion of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Like Real Steel, that team will never be viewed as one of the best of all-time, but it’s absolutely a winner with a great story. As a Red Sox fan, I’ll never forget watching Luis Gonzalez’s bloop-single off of Yankee hurler Mo Rivera. I even bought a Diamondbacks championship shirt, though I don’t think I ever wore it.
The D-Backs barely won the NL West that season, topping San Francisco by only two games, survived the NLDS with St. Louis courtesy of a Tony Womack walk-off hit, trounced Atlanta in the NLCS and then nearly let the championship slip away after winning the first two games of the best-of-seven set thanks to gems from Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. Arizona crushed New York by a combined 13-1 margin in Games 1 and 2 of the title round before falling in the next three games in the Bronx. After that, the team that was never supposed to win pummeled the Yanks 15-2 in Game 6 and enjoyed a walk-off 9th inning hit in Game 7 from their 57-homer slugger against the game’s premier closer – a guy who hadn’t blown a postseason save in 23 chances. Once again, it was Schilling and Johnson to the rescue on the mound in a series that will be remembered for its drama and memorable heroics for a long, long time.
In just their fourth season, the Diamondbacks became the fastest expansion franchise to win a World Series, and their future Hall of Fame worthy aces were named co-MVP’s in accounting for all four wins and a 1.40 ERA over nearly 40 innings pitched.
I’m not saying Real Steel will go down in history, other than for being one of the best movies with robot fights (you listening, Transformers?), but it is a champion in its own way and on several compelling levels throughout. And, like baseball in October, you can’t beat the family entertainment!
What movies have you seen lately? Have any comparisons of your own?
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.