5 Ways to Super Bowl
By George Rose
February 3, 2018
The biggest anti-movie holiday of the year is here. Theaters will be barren wastelands, the creative types will be ignored and overly aggressive athletic fandom will reign supreme. That’s right, the Super Bowl is upon us. This is not a total loss for the film lover stuck among football fans. The best commercials will be shown and a few upcoming blockbusters will get to screen early footage. It’s fun to see which studios are willing to spend millions for a thirty second spot and even more interesting to see which bets pay off down the line. Ultimately, what movie fans do on a day like this is eat and drink, read movie articles during the game and pay attention during the halftime show. Just because we’re different from the traditional sports fan doesn’t mean we can’t party amongst them. This is a time for football… and football related films.
Having lived near Trenton, NJ for most of my life, I was raised as a Philadelphia fan. My cousins, however, were New York fans. All I’ve known in my life is an Eagles vs Giants (and Phillies vs Yankees) rivalry that I couldn't care less about. That was until I went to college in Boston in 2004 when the Red Sox spanked the Yankees and won the World Series. It brought me great pride to annoy my cousins and they haaaaaated me for pretending to care, but that’s what families do. Sometimes I watch sports with them and sometimes they go see movies with me. And, in that vein, sometimes I have the capacity to devote my movie article to sports.
A few weeks ago, I predicted my Boston and Philadelphia hearts would collide. I teased my cousins that there was a chance the Patriots and the Eagles would end up being in the Super Bowl together, and they laughed. There was supposedly no way the two would make it through the Championships to the end. Well, here we are. Maybe I should be a Football Prophet instead of a Box Office Prophet! Nah, that would be horrible. Instead, I will give the movie lovers of the world something to read online while they ignore the Super Bowl and give them something to talk about with their more athletic friends while we wait for the next blockbuster trailer. Here are the 5 Ways to Prep for hanging out with football fans during the Super Bowl!!!
#1) THE BLIND SIDE (2009)
Considering that sports have such an avid audience, it might surprise you to know that there are only four football related films that have earned over $100 million at the box office. Seriously. Although this information is unadjusted for inflation, it’s crazy to think there is so little support for football films. Is the divide between sports and movies really that big?! To add to that, only one film has earned over $200 million. That movie was The Blind Side ($255 million), and the success there could be pinpointed more to Sandra Bullock’s Oscar winning role than football.
It’s surprising to learn the biggest football film is led by a woman but it deserves the top spot. It’s the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the religious white woman that took in and adopted a poor black boy, Michael Oher, who later becomes a NFL player. It’s kinda like Get Out, if instead of trying to kill the black guy the white family adopts him. Everybody loves a rags-to-riches story, especially when there’s a white person to thank at the heart of it. Although this is actually Oher’s story, it’s Bullock’s film. Who knew she’d win an Oscar one day?! Equally shocking is that behind a woman the next two biggest football films belong to Adam Sandler.
#2 THE WATERBOY (1998)
Back in the early 90’s, there wasn’t 1,000+ television channels and countless streaming services. That probably explains how Sandler was able to go from a Saturday Night Live alum to one of the biggest comedians on the planet. He started small with “classics” (I was ten years old at the time) like Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996). Then, the world began falling in love with Sandler in 1998 when The Wedding Singer surprised with $80 million.
That should help explain why a sport-hater like myself wound up contributing towards the massive $161 million success of The Waterboy at the end of 1998. Sandler brought his signature impersonation of a stupid guy to the football field as a bumbling waterboy in the Deep South. He goes from aqua activist to football superstar overnight after bullies bring out his angry defensive side. The movie is less about the sport than it is about the hilarity brought on by physical violence but isn’t that what football is all about? If nothing else, the film gives the audience an epic battle of Super Bowl proportions: Water vs Gatorade. Who won? Sandler.
#3) ANY GIVEN SUNDAY (1999)
The third biggest football film also goes to Sandler; in 2005 he tried to revamp his career by staring in a similar movie to his (at the time) biggest success story. That explains why he did a remake of the prison yard comedy The Longest Yard. Though it didn’t top Waterboy, Yard went on to earn $158 million and proved the power of Sandler. Number four on the list belongs to Denzel Washington’s Remember the Titans, which earned $115 million 2000. It’s a great movie but not one that had a lasting impression on my life. I saw The Waterboy because I loved Sandler and, unfortunately, I was not a Washington fan in 2000 because I was only 15 years old. So then why did I see Any Given Sunday, the fifth biggest ($75 million) football movie?
I finally got a TV to have in my bedroom for my 13th birthday in 1998 and immediately went out and got a VHS player. Not long after that I got myself a DVD player and, much to my surprise, it came with a mail-in voucher for five free DVDs. They were pre-selected and came a few weeks later. One of those DVDs was Any Given Sunday. My parents were strict about R-rated movies and I wasn’t 18 quite yet, which made watching Any Given Sunday much more enticing to me. Cameron Diaz was a rising star I loved at the time so I popped the movie into my player. While I didn’t much care for the film, portions of it would end up being watched hundreds of times.
I can’t even tell you what it’s about because I only ever watched it through once and that was forever ago. The movie made its way into my DVD player hundreds of times because I was a horny gay teenager back then and there’s a full frontal locker room scene about an hour in. Remember, this was “a long time ago, in a dial-up galaxy far, far away.” Back then it was much harder to get access to porn so teens like myself had to utilize their VHS and DVD collections to see pics of dudes’ junk. There was no Snapchat, DM’s, or Grinder. There was getting your ass kicked for being gay and there was a big black schlong in Any Given Sunday. GO FOOTBALL!
#4) VARSITY BLUES (1999)
For every football movie with a big black weiner there’s a film with big white boobs. Well, there’s really only one of each that I know of. They’re also not really big white boobs so much as they are white boobs covered in whipped cream. While I don’t think it’s ok to objectify women (#TimesUp), I do think it’s only fair to objectify a woman if I have just objectified a man. So, big black weiner, I’d like to introduce you to the big white boobies of Varsity Blues. #YoureWelcome
To find that we move a few more spots down the list to the eighth biggest football movie ($52.8 million), Varsity Blues. Are you seeing yet how little people like to watch fake football in a movie theater? It’s not even like studios have to try that hard. All they have to do is throw together a few overly sexualized heartthrobs and add some standard teen angst to the mix. James Van Der Beek, Paul Walker, Scott Caan, Amy Smart and Ali Larter brought their young celebrity status together and turned a low $16 million budget into one of the biggest football films ever. Again, the film has less to do with football than it does with the drama surrounding it; the star quarterback gets hurt and his girlfriend decides to try banging the new QB. It seems like the common theme here is that you need more than just balls to make a sports movie successful. You need story, you need famous stars and you need cherries on top of your whipped boobs.
#5) LITTLE GIANTS (1994)
Even though the New York Giants are nowhere to be found in the upcoming Super Bowl (suck it, losers), they are the only team to have a Hollywood film named after them. It isn’t about the Giants themselves or even the athletes in their childhood glory. Instead, the movie is about a group of bullied misfits that nobody wants on their prepubescent football team. In true children’s movie fashion, the losers overcome adversity and band together to take down the team of rich spoiled brats on steroids. Oh yeah, and the coaches from both teams are brothers. One is rich, one is poor, the poor one gets stuck with the losers, the losers beat the rich douchebags, and everyone wins in this lovely film about class warfare, sportsmanship and brotherly bonding.
This hidden gem is way down the list but, considering it only made $19 million over twenty years ago, it’s rather impressive that it’s still in the top 25 biggest football hits (#24). To put that into perspective, that’s $42 million in today’s dollars. Isn’t that crazy? Do you know what the 24th biggest superhero movie is? Batman. That’s right, the 1989 Tim Burton classic that earned $251 million ($578 million adjusted for inflation) is all the way down at #24 on the biggest superhero movies list but #24 in football couldn’t muster $20 million. I wish I could point and laugh at the nearest football fan, but they’re too busy screaming and farting their way through the Super Bowl. If only they cared about box office stats as much as they cared about Fantasy Football, they would know that the nerds of the world are better than the jocks that bully their way through it. For now, I’ll just have to continue enjoying the glorious food, festivities and commercials that the Super Bowl brings. I’ll expect the same from athletes when the Hollywood Super Bowl (the Oscars) arrives in one month. Until then, GO SPORTS! I mean, go Eagles!