After Jerod posted about Blue Chips, my favorite sports movie of all time, I began mentally running through my favorite sports scenes in movies.
Unfortunately, I ended up thinking more about the bad sports scenes in movie history. The more I thought about it, the more I was surprised, and then outraged, that such bad representations of athletic prowess had been splattered all over our television and movie screens for years. I decided to make a top-10 list of the least realistic sports scenes ever shot.
[And this post was so successful that I had to do another one! Click to view Part II of the Most Unrealistic Sports Scenes in Movie History.]
I need to explain the ground rules before I start the list.
- I have not seen every sports movie ever made. I’ve seen a bunch, and what follows is my list. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below.
- I am purposely leaving out intentionally absurd moments, such as Michael J. Fox morphing into a werewolf and dominating his high school basketball games, or Andre 3000 playing a Darryl Dawkins/Julius Erving hybrid in Semi-Pro and somehow having a 65’’ vertical.
- Comedies are disqualified unless their sports scenes are supposed to be realistic. For example, Major League is a ridiculous movie, but the baseball scenes are intended to mimic real-life baseball, so theoretically it could count.
- The scenes don’t necessarily have to come from a sports movie. The idea here is to highlight any sporting moment in any film that could never in a million years happen in real life.
Here are a few who barely missed the cut (click each for video): White Men Can’t Jump’s half court hook shot, Damon Wayans dunking prowess in Celtic Pride, the Top Gun volleyball scene, Best of the Best (basically the entire movie), Matt Damon’s uncanny shot-shaping ability in the Legend of Bagger Vance, and Leo DiCaprio’s drug induced hoop skills.
On to the list:
10. The Program – Final Play
The Program is supposed to be to college football what Blue Chips is to college basketball – a reasonably accurate portrayal of the good, bad, and ugly sides of big time collegiate athletics. But The Program fails to have the same impact as Blue Chips because it is thoroughly absurd.
Witness the final play of the movie, a broken play turned into a buzzer beater touchdown by star quarterback Joe Kane. Never mind that the play should have been whistled dead with Kane’s incomplete pass at 1:40 in this clip. Bonus points for bad dubbing of Omar Epps’ character too.
9. Karate Kid – The Crane Kick
So we’re supposed to believe that Johnny Lawrence, the toughest of tough guys in Reseda, would run his face into a near-crippled Daniel LaRusso’s crane kick and lose this fight? I mean, I know William Zabka tends to shrink in the clutch (see Just One of the Guys, Back to School), but this is too much.
8. Tin Cup – Hole Out From 235 Yards
Tin Cup straddles the line between believability and improbability. Unfortunately, it seems like the most improbable moments are presented as major plot devices.
When “Tin Cup” McAvoy stubbornly attempts to clear a water hazard, he flushes his chances of winning the U.S. Open down the drain. The filmmakers decided that having him finally clear the water wouldn’t be enough, they had to have him hole out from 235 yards. Even that wasn’t enough – they also conveniently made the hole-out land him in the top 15 for the tournament, automatically qualifying for the next year’s Open.
7. The Fan – DeNiro Impersonates Umpire, Stabs John Kruk
Youtube doesn’t have a video of this entire scene, but I can assure you that the highlight is when John Kruk, trying to thwart an obsessed fan (Gil, played by DeNiro), gets stabbed to death on the baseball field. Gil then goes into a diatribe, seen here, about Wesley Snipes’ character, Bobby Rayburn.
The fact that Gil was able to kidnap Rayburn’s son, impersonate a MLB umpire, and stab a player – and subsequently be killed by police while throwing a knife at Rayburn – is an affront to all logic.
6. Any Given Sunday – The Eyeball Scene
Any Given Sunday actually did a good job in most of its casting and football action scenes. It’s certainly better than most football movies. But when a player’s eye gets gouged out during a pileup, all bets are off.
I still can’t figure out why both sides of the line just dove on the ground in a heap as soon as the ball was snapped. The scooping up of the eye and placing it in a cooler were nice touches.
5. American History X – Norton’s Reverse Dunk
There are a whole lot of things that are unrealistic about this scene. First, Derek Vinyard would have been killed the moment he took his shirt off. Second, I’m not going to believe that a guy who dribbles the ball as high as his head can complete a reverse dunk in the flow of a fast break. Third, said guy is Edward Norton.
4. The Natural – The Final Home Run
Roy Hobbs might have been the greatest player ever, but I refuse to accept that his greatness included the ability to make sparks turn into a fireworks display that follows him around the bases after he crushed a homer about 600 feet.
3. Gladiator – Cuba vs. Brian Dennehy
Most boxing movies are unrealistic, even the good ones. This is because most real fights are boring. In the course of a 30- or 40-minute fight you might catch a few fleeting seconds at a time of intense action. Not in Gladiator. This whole movie is ridiculously bad, even for a boxing movie, but this scene is my favorite.
2. Driven – Take Your Pick of These Crashes
Sylvester Stallone isn’t necessarily known for making true-to-life dramas. Driven is his foray into the world of CART racing, and boy does he liven things up. My favorite crash in this video starts at 7:00, but they are all laughable.
1. The Last Boy Scout – Billy Cole’s Homicidal/Suicidal TD Scamper
During the most torrential downpour in Cleveland’s history, Billy Cole, played by Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks, catches a pass and starts toward the end zone. For reasons that are totally insane (you’ll just have to watch the movie), Cole needs to score by any means necessary. So, naturally, he pulls out a gun and shoots three defenders, and once he scores, himself.
Strangely, the least realistic part of the whole scene, for me, is that they are playing in almost total darkness. I can’t imagine any professional league allowing that. (Click here to go straight to the play)
There you have it – the top 10 most unrealistic sports scenes. Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments below.