Our sport, our field, our decade
High school football could have been king in the 80s. Seriously.
The best book ever written about it -- "Friday Night Lights" -- was published in 1989. (Why did it took so many years for it to make it to Hollywood and TV?)
And some of the best (and worst) movies ever about the sport were made in the 80s. The best one from any decade? I'll go with 2004's "Friday Night Lights" again, even though it's not nearly as good as the book or TV show -- how weird is that? And as much as I love to watch "Varsity Blues" every time it's on cable, it takes the title for least realistic sports movie since "Gus" -- the field-goal kicking mule. (Alas, it was made in '76.)
Now that the season is about to start again, how about a closer look at the best and worst of the bunch from the 80s.
THE BEST: All The Right Moves (1983)
The plot: A football player and his coach look to escape the steel towns of Pennsylvania.
Realism factor: Aside from the fireworks going off when rival Walnut Heights scores a touchdown, I think it's fairly flawless. Craig Nelson is the embodiment of every high school coach I've ever met (he would of course later go on to prove this again in TV's "Coach.") And yeah, Tom, that WAS pass interference! Next time, go for the ball.
Favorite line: "You're not god, Nickerson. You're just a typing teacher."
THE WORST: Wildcats (1986)
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Nipsey Russell, Bruce McGill.
The plot: A female track coach accepts her dream job -- head football coach ... at the worst school in the city.
Realism factor: The female coach is possibly the only realistic angle to the entire movie. Otherwise, you have players break-dancing on the field (that's 15 yards unsportsmanlike conduct), profanity during the plays (another 15 yards and possible ejection) and a 400-pound player jumping high enough to block a field goal. (No flag, but come on!)
Favorite line: "If you're going to shake my hand, I'd rather do you did that before you checked his jock."
THE GUILTY PLEASURE: The Best of Times (1986)
Stars: Robin Williams, Kurt Russell.
The plot: Two men seek to turn their lives (and the fortune of their town) around by replaying an important game from their high school days.
Realism factor: You wouldn't ask how realistic "Field of Dreams" is, would you? Same deal here. Just enjoy the shot at redemption (and secretly wish it could happen to you as well.)
Favorite line: "I was lucky." "No Jack, you were due."