Spotlight: The Mighty Ducks Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1996) PG
I have to admit that my childhood hockey memories aren’t of the Chicago Blackhawks; instead, I remember the Mighty Ducks. Disney’s trilogy follows a ragtag group of kids from a Minnesota peewee league (The Mighty Ducks) to the international junior goodwill games (D2) to a stuffy prep school (D3). Starring Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson, the Mighty Ducks movies are fun for the whole family.
Wondering what happened to the actors from the original movie? Check out this slideshow. And if you’re wondering if the Blackhawks will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, stay tuned…the season starts Thursday!
Invictus (2009) PG-13
In 1994, Nelson Mandela assumed the presidency of a racially divided South Africa. He preached forgiveness and reconciliation in the new democracy.
In South Africa, the national rugby team was beloved by the white minority and hated by the black majority. Mandela decided that changing that animosity would be the catalyst to uniting the country. To do that, the host nation had to win the 1995 World Cup.
Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon (and directed by Clint Eastwood), Invictus is a truly inspirational story that transcends sports and politics. Read a Newsweek article to discover what’s real and what’s not. Also check out reviews from Roger Ebert and The New York Times.
Did you know? The movie’s title comes from a William Ernest Henley poem that inspired Mandela during his imprisonment. You can read more about the true story in Playing the Enemy by John Carlin.
The Blind Side (2009) PG-13
This was such a touching story (with a lot of laughs) for all ages.
In her Academy Award winning role, Sandra Bullock plays the indefatigable Leigh Ann Tuohy. Tim McGraw plays her husband, while Kathy Bates has a supporting role as Miss Sue. The trio are united in their desire to help Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).
Wondering about the true story behind the movie? Check out Jennifer’s review on our Current Picks blog.
Remember the Titans (2000) PG
This feel-good football film will leave you smiling. Based on a true story, Remember the Titans follows the integration of a school and football team in 1971 Virginia. Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone, whose harsh tactics have him at odds with newly demoted assistant coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton). You’ll be enthralled from beginning to end, through the highs and lows of the football team and their community (and how the repercussions echo beyond sports).
The music throughout the film is great – the soundtrack features classics like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Spirit in the Sky.”
A young Hayden Panettiere is hilarious as the spunky tomboy daughter of the assistant coach. You’ll also see Ryan Gosling and Kate Bosworth in small roles.
Want more football? Check out our list of recommended football films.
Fever Pitch (2005) PG-13
Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon pair up in this hilarious movie from the Farrelly brothers. Fallon plays Ben, a high school math teacher with a (possibly) unhealthy obsession with the Boston Red Sox. Lindsey (Barrymore) is a workaholic corporate executive. Life is great…until baseball season starts.
Check out Roger Ebert’s review. See how the movie’s ending changed with the miraculous run of the Red Sox in the 2004 postseason. And read an interview with Jimmy Fallon.
Nick Hornby’s novel Fever Pitch inspired two movies — Fever Pitch (starring Colin Firth as an obsessed soccer fan) and this baseball film.
The Set-Up (1949)
This well-crafted boxing film stars Robert Ryan as a veteran boxer who dreams of the Big Win. Little does he know that his manager, who has no faith in his chances, has set him up for a fall this night. While his worried wife—who has come to his previous bouts-—instead waits in their nearby hotel room for him, he prepares for his fight with an up-and-comer. The sometimes brutal film action occurs in real time. I found the scenes between boxers preparing for their fights psychologically revealing.
Read The New York Times review or check out other boxing movies at the library.
Speed Racer (2008) PG
Based on the animated TV series, Speed Racer may start out slow, but it soon becomes engrossing. Race car driver Speed Racer (Emilie Hirsch) loves driving – it’s in his blood (and it’s the family business). When he makes it to the big leagues, Speed learns about the dark side of the sport that took the life of his older brother.
Costarring Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, and Matthew Fox, Speed Racer is psychedelic fun for the whole family.
A League of Their Own (1992) PG
In 1943, with the men at war, baseball owners created a professional women’s league. Loosely based on a true story, A League of Their Own follows the inaugural season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The movie stars Tom Hanks and Geena Davis (and features Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell) – and is so much fun to watch!
See what Roger Ebert thought about the movie.
Want more baseball? Check out our list of recommended baseball movies.
Hometown Legend (2001) PG
Athens, Alabama, was the capital of high school football. But when the coach’s son dies in a freak accident during the state championship game, things change. Twelve years later, the county has decided to close the high school and bus students to nearby Rock Hill. The coach comes out of retirement for one final season, to try to turn around a program that hasn’t seen a winning season in twelve years.
Follow the new kid in town (Nick Cornish) – an untrusting teenager from the foster care system; the girl (Lacey Chabert) dreaming of saving her hometown; and a coach (Terry O’Quinn) looking to make a difference. This uplifting story keeps you interested till the somewhat surprising ending.
Miracle (2004) PG
Do you believe in miracles? Based on a true story, Miracle documents the months leading up to the 1980 Olympics and the unforgettable showdown between the American and Soviet hockey teams at Lake Placid. Despite knowing the ending, you’ll be on the edge of your seat till the very end.
If you want to learn more about the “miracle on ice,” check out Wayne Coffey’s 2005 book, The Boys of Winter. Also look at the cover and article from the March 3, 1980, issue of Sports Illustrated and an article from ESPN Classic. Want to see the original team? Do You Believe in Miracles? is an HBO documentary featuring footage of and interviews with the 1980 hockey team.