I’ve decided to launch a fun, weekly post here at the Casual Gentlemen blog called the Friday Five! Every Friday, to kick off the weekend, I’ll offer a category — something strange or wonderful or goofy — and then list my five favorite things from that category. Use these lists to launch a debate. As a way to break the ice with that hottie at the party. Or, when all else has failed, settle a life long feud.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember: With great power comes great responsibility…
This week, in honor of the 30th Summer Olympiad and the spirit of individual human triumph (I’m a global citizen…), I present: The Top Five Olympic Movies! Does your favorite film make the list? Find out after the jump.
Drum roll please…
5. D2: The Mighty Ducks (Sam Weisman, 1994)
Okay, fine, not technically a Olympic movie — which is why The Ducks are relegated to number 5. Whatever. Any time the USA battles against a black-clad, vaguely Imperial Stormtrooper-looking team from Iceland… that’s close enough for me! In the second installment of the always entertaining Mighty Ducks trilogy, Gordon Bombay withdraws from minor league hockey (read: washes out… seriously, the guy is supposed to be in his mid 30’s right!?) only to find himself coaching team USA at the Junior Goodwill Games. And who is there amidst the glam and glitz of LA? You guessed it! Those fun-loving underdogs from Minnesota! While D2 lacks the outright charm that made the original a classic, we get plenty more of what the series is known for: hockey shenanigans, quacking and the flying V. Plus, the second time around, a few new members are introduced to the roster — including Julie “The Cat” Gaffney, who I had a mega crush on when I was a youngster! Gotta love a girl in hockey pads…
4.) Miracle (Gavin O’Connor, 2004)
Oh Disney, you sure know how to churn out real-life, inspirational sports stories… and Miracle falls head over heels into that category. Based on one of the more famous sports moments (thanks, in no small part, to Al Michaels’ stunning call, “Do you believe in miracles?”) the movie recounts events of the 1980 Winter Olympics where an underdog USA hockey team defeats the seemingly invincible Russian squad. Miracle offers all the standard scenes of team building spiked with a massive dose of national pride. What pulls this Olympic film above others is an excellent, under-appreciated performance by Kurt Russell. He impresses as the unorthodox head coach, Herb Brooks, and rocks one of the most epic speeches in any sports movie. Ever.
3. One Day in September (Kevin Macdonald, 1999)
The Olympics celebrate the greatest athletic achievements of the human species; they honor individuals and nations without regard to politics, race or creed. Every four years we glimpse the shifting, hazy outlines of a peaceful, unified future… a mirage in the desert of reality. Unfortunately, the world is not yet so idyllic and thus One Day in September wades deep into that stark desert. The documentary explores the tragic events of the 1972 Olympics in Munich where Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village, taking several Israeli athletes and coaches hostage. Though difficult to watch at times, this Oscar winner for best documentary (2000) is a wonderfully crafted film. Using archival footage, as well as eerie interviews with the surviving terrorist and other officials, Kevin Mcdonald details how German police botched the rescue operation.
2. Cool Runnings (Jon Turteltaub, 1993)
“Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time!” Disney’s third entry twists and slides onto the list with unabashed joy. Cool Runnings charts the growth of the Jamaican bobsled team from humble beginnings as island push-cart racers to participants in the 1988 Winter Olympic games in Calgary. Based on a true story, the film clips along at a gold medal pace, entertaining at every turn. The highlight has to be John Candy as the disgraced coach looking for redemption. Though the story tugs at all the standard emotional heartstrings, it is done with charm, humor and zest — spotlighting the human element that makes the Olympic games so compelling. I challenge you not to get a little weepy at the end…
1. Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)
A group of runners pound through the surf to a sweeping tune… Even if you know nothing about Chariots of Fire, you’re probably aware of its opening sequence — or, more likely, a parody of it. Mimicked so often, the images and music are ingrained into the popular consciousness. This fact-based film follows two British track athletes, one a determined Jewish runner and the other a devout Christian, as they compete in the 1924 Olympic games. Winning the Oscar for best picture (1982), the film also delivers one of the greatest quotes in all of sports movie-dom: when Eric Liddell’s sister feels he is neglecting his mission duties, Lidell replys, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.” Awesome! Clearly, God is a big track fan! If you haven’t already, give Chariots of Fire your full attention.
There you have it! How do you feel about this list? Let us know in the comments section below.