Any Given Sunday (1999)
3rd stringer Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) comes off the bench and interjects new life into a struggling team. As his star rises, he also irritates and alienates most of his team, as Willie is mostly out for himself. Meanwhile, the coach (Al Pacino) has his own personal woes as a head football coach of a playoff-bound team. Superb, gritty portrayal of the business, attitudes and inner workings of players, coaches, team owners, trainers, doctors, agents, wives, and girlfriends, with lots of ripped bodies for eye candy. Major star power in this one.
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Cool line: "… That's why I want to coach high school. Get back to the basics. Kids don't know nothing; they just want to play. It's pure."
The Longest Yard (2005)
Adam Sandler plays an ex-quarterback who's banned from the NFL because of point-shaving. He lands in prison on unrelated charges, and is forced to put together a football team made up of fellow cons to play against a semi-pro team consisting of prison guards. Chris Rock plays his likeable buddy.
Watch for: Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris), ESPN's Michael (Dallas Cowboys) Irvin and Chris Berman, Burt Reynolds
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Brian's Song (2002)
Remake of the 1971 movie-of-the-week stars Mekhi Phifer as Gale Sayers and Sean Maher as Brian Piccolo, two players of the late 60s/early 70s Chicago Bears. They became the best of friends. Brian Piccolo died of cancer in 1970. Engaging performances by Phifer and Maher. Based on the book "I Am Third" by Gale Sayers.
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Friday Night Lights (2004)
Flashy players, pressured coaches, father & son conflict, fast-tailed girls, and horny teenagers drive this true story of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team in a small Texas town where the team is the end-all-be-all of their world.
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Watch for: Friday Night Lights TV stars Connie Britton and Brad Leland
Second String (2002)
When the Buffalo Bills get into the playoffs, they grab has-been quarterback Dan Heller (Gil "Ally McBeal" Bellows) to be their punching bag arm for practice. Heller and the rest of the benchwarmers are pressed into service when the starters get food poisoning. Can Buffalo finally get a win? A TNT original.
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Watch for: CSI's George Eads, Richard Jones, Doug Flutie, Mike Ditka, Chris "I'm-in-every-football-movie" Berman
Facing the Giants (2006)
This wonderful independent family film highlights a high school coach who truly relies on divine intervention to motivate and inspire his team. Besides the giants on the field, the coach and his players have some personal giants they have to overcome. (No obligatory rain scene in this movie.)
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Hometown Legend (2002)
A small Alabama town hasn't had a winning high school football season since the death of the coach's son during a state championship game 12 years prior. The micro-manager, somewhat maniacal coach ("Lost's" Terry O'Quinn) returns to the town and the school and hopes to turn the team around and save the school, which is in danger of being shut down. Somewhat slow-moving, but interesting characters.
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Watch for: Party of Five's Lacey Chabert
For The Kids:
Air Bud: Golden Retriever: A dog who knows how to play football.
Angels in the Endzone: Christopher Lloyd and his angelic crew help an inept high school team.
The Game Plan: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a quarterback who meets the daughter he didn't know he had.
Looking Forward To:
Leatherheads: George Clooney stars in a movie about legitimatizing the game of football. (release date spring 2008)
Story by Donna Terrell
Starpulse contributing writer