About 30 years ago, Hollywood producers began to struggle mightily trying to come up with fresh ideas for sports based movies. With virtually no stone left unturned, these creative geniuses had to dig deep into the annals of human competition to deliver compelling stories, likable characters, and triumphs over evil that don’t include full-scale war. What they came up with forever changed the sports movie landscape, and inspired a generation of our young to put down their basketball in favor of a foosball. Behold, the birth of the “pseudo” sports flick, in all it’s craptastic glory…..Below is a comprehensive list, featuring the biggest and baddest of this underrated genre. Enjoy.
Long Shot, 1981 (foosball)
This film stars immortal 80’s legend Leif Garrett, and the premise is simple: Boy plays foosball…boy meets girl…boy falls in love with girl…boy sings shitty song after shitty song…girl can’t resist the charm of heart-throb…hilarium ensues. This is the ONLY movie to my knowledge that features foosball as the primary sport, and apparently movie producers thought a flick based on checkers would bore people. Trust me, not even curiosity is worth the rental price of this sack of flaming crap. Don’t believe me? Try to make it through this painful clip:
Over the Top, 1987 (arm wrestling)
Sylvester Stallone plays infamous Lincoln Hawk, a truck driver by day, and competitive arm wrestler by night. He fights through a grueling Las Vegas tournament, wins the damn thing, and along the way wins the respect and admiration of a son he left behind years ago. Only in Hollywood could child abandonment be reconciled through being the best arm-wrestler in the world. John Grizzly has to be a top 10 movie character ever, check him out in action (kudos to Holy Diver in the background):
The Wizard, 1989 (video games)
Oh good lord was the NES popular in the 80’s. It is a staple of our generation’s childhood, and Hollywood capitalized on our electronic religion with The Wizard, starring a young Fred Savage. Corey (Savage) and his estranged brother Jimmy trek cross country to compete in the uber-nerdy “World Nintendo Championships.” Jimmy, being the mischevious little rat bastard that he is, has a penchant for looking completely retarded in real life, but can sure as hell lay down an 8-Bit ass kicking of Biblical proportions to anyone foolish enough to step up to the plate. He takes eternal asshole Lucas Barton head on, and warp zones his way to everlasting glory. Other interesting characters include a streetwise 12 year old smartass named Haley, and her trucker friend Spankey. Only in the 80’s would this shit fly. Here’s Lucas giving his best Billy Zabka impression. Speaking of Zabka, he is by far and away the single greatest actor of all-time:
Color of Money, 1986 (pool)
Question: What happens when you mix Tom Cruise as a cocky young hotshot know-it-all Italian pool shark and Paul Newman as an aging gunslinger who still has a little gas left in the tank? Answer: An overrated movie that will make you feel like it is approximately 45 minutes too long. I am a huge Martin Scorsese fan, but he needs to stay away from dramas revolving around a pseudo-sport such as pool, and stick with what works: senseless yet intriguing violence.
Not the best we’ve seen from Marty
Rad, 1986 (BMX biking)
It is hard to top Rad, and I feel it is the crown jewel of any pseudo-sports movie list. The saga of Cru Jones is so compelling, I saved for months in the 80’s desperately trying to get a GT dekked out with pegs. After 3 years, I realized there was only $6.87 in my piggy bank, and the BMX fad was more than dead. What will live forever is the opening credits of this movie, which still get me pumped up to this day. Break the Ice by John Farnham is one of the most underrated 80’s songs. Icing on the cake is that this cinematic masterpiece co-stars unbelievably hot MILF Lori Loughlin, who has aged like fine wine. She has never looked better, and should steam up your TV in the new 90210 series. Anyhoo, enjoy Farnham’s soundtrack sensation:
Gymkata, 1985 (gymnastics/martial arts)
Tagline for this cult classic reads, “The thrill of gymnastics, the kill of karate.” This movie is Bloodsport meets Tootsie. It will have you laughing long after the closing credits roll, and is definitely worth a look if you enjoy 80’s cheese pseudo-sport style. The trailer alone should have you shitting your pants in seconds:
Thrashin, 1986 (skateboarding)
This movie has extra significance because it stars Josh Brolin, who earned fame as “short shorts over sweatpants wearing big brother” Brand in the 80’s classic Goonies. Brolin’s character (Corey) falls in love with a girl who, go figure, is the SISTER of rival skateboarder and perpetual dick Hook!!!! All hell breaks loose as these two literally “thrash” each other in an emotional sequence where they play grab ass in a drained pool. Why Corey even messed with Hook is beyond belief, considering his gang, The Daggers, make “The Warriors” look like girl scouts. Check out these no good hoodlums engaging in flights of fancy:
Breakin’ , 1984 (break dance-offs)
Competition may be fierce in Game 7 of the World Series, but it doesn’t have shit on an intense battle featuring Turbo and Ozone against Poppin’ Pete and Poppin Taco at the “Electrorock.” This feud obviously has gone on wayyyyyy before the movie was filmed, and it is quite gratifying to see the two good guys mess ’em up with the help of Kelly. I lump this movie with Rad, as inspirational, but my break dancing career was much shorter than my pro BMX dreams. After approximately 3 minutes of rug bruns and almost breaking my neck, Steel realized he was just too white and nerdy for the Electrorock. At least I can enjoy an Ice-T led battle on DVD nowadays:
So there you have it. We can’t all be football, baseball, basketball, or hockey stars, so the 80’s, and the rise of “pseudo-sports” movies helped inspire a nation of Nintendo playing obese children to put down the controller, and grab a pool cue. God bless you 80’s, the messages you gave us will forever add to our pitiful exsistences…..
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