I love watching sports movies... they make me smile, they make me weep, and they make me cheer! They are a great option for family movie night because they often demonstrate positive values and traits, like perseverance, determination, courage, and teamwork.
Following is a list of our family's favorite football movies, including a film about one of Colorado's own. Almost all of them are based on real-life people and teams (*), proving once again that truth is better than fiction.
Rated G (General Audiences) or PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Based on the true story of Brian Piccolo (James Caan), who died of cancer at 26, and his unique friendship with Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams). Keep the tissues nearby ... one box may not be enough.
Note to Parents: Although the movie is rated G, it deals with some very serious topics, including racial discrimination, terminal illness, and death.
Based on the life of college football Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Note to Parents: Rated PG for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality.
Based on the story of Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.
Note to Parents: Rated PG for sports action and some mild language.
My All American*
Based on the true story of legendary football star Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) who hails from our home state of Colorado. He played at Wheat Ridge High School for his early football years before being noticed by University of Texas coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). A player who trains hard and plays with heart, Freddie faces his biggest challenge off the field.
Note to Parents: Rated PG for thematic elements, language, and brief partial nudity.
Coach Jones (Ed Harris) befriends a mentally disabled student named Radio (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who hangs out near his practice field. Soon, Radio is Jones' loyal assistant, but things start to sour when the team's fans feel the coach's devotion to Radio is getting in the way of the quest for a championship.
Note to Parents: Rated PG for language and thematic elements.
Remember the Titans*
In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all-black school with an all-white school, the very foundation of football's great tradition was put to the test. Based on a true story, it is an incredible movie with a fantastic cast, including Denzel Washington, Will Patton, and a very young Ryan Gosling. Plus the soundtrack will make you want to dance and sing along!
Note to Parents: Rated PG for language and thematic elements.
One of my personal all-time favorites, I have a hard time changing the channel if I come across it while surfing. Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (Sean Astin) dreams of playing for Notre Dame practically as soon as he can speak but the odds are against him. Don't be shocked if you actually stand up and cheer in your living room at the end of this movie!
Note to Parents: Rated PG for mild language.
We Are Marshall*
In 1970, a plane crash claims the lives of 75 Marshall University football players, staff members, and boosters. New coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) arrives on the scene in March 1971, determined to rebuild Marshall's Thundering Herd and heal a grieving community in the process.
Note to Parents: Rated PG for emotional thematic material, a crash scene, and mild language.
When the Game Stands Tall*
Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to an unbelievable 151-game winning streak that crushed all records for any American sport, including college and professional teams. But what does the pressure of winning do to a team that can't lose, and how do they rise again when the streak comes to an end?
Note to Parents: Although the movie is rated PG, this movie contains some very mature subject matter, including the death of a parent, a verbally abusive parent, and a student who is shot and killed by another teen.
Rated PG-13 (May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13)
The Blind Side*
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in this story about Michael Oher, his adoption into the Tuohy family, and his life before college football and the NFL (Oher played for the Baltimore Ravens, the Tennessee Titans, and the Carolina Panthers.)
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for a scene involving brief violence, drugs, and sexual references.
This drama gives a behind-the-scenes (fictional) look at the strategies behind NFL draft picks, with Kevin Costner starring as the Cleveland Browns General Manager. It's Moneyball for football fans.
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and sexual references.
Friday Night Lights*
In Texas, high school football is nearly as big as the pros. Based on the 1990 book by H.G. Bissinger of the same name, Friday Night Lights chronicles the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team from Odessa, TX as they make a run for the Texas state championship.
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content, language, teen drinking, and rough sports action.
Sean Porter (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a juvenile detention facility counselor who decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a football team to give them a sense of self-respect and social responsibility, but he faces opposition from high school coaches who do not want their players facing criminals on the field.
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for some startling scenes of violence, mature thematic material, and language.
Set in 1925, Dodge Connolly (George Clooney), an enterprising pro football player, recruits Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski), a too-good-to-be-true college football player and war hero, to join the team and keep the league from going under.
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Football playoffs are approaching and the players of the Washington Sentinels have gone on strike. Legendary coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) has just one week to recruit a team of replacement players. For Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) and his team of mismatched outsiders, it is the second chance they've been waiting for. Every time I hear the song "I Will Survive," it makes me want to watch this movie ... for the umpteenth time!
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for some crude sexual humor and language.
The Manassas High School football team had never won a playoff game. This Academy Award-winning documentary chronicles their 2009 season in which the Tigers, under the leadership of coach Bill Courtney, seem to have a chance to break their school's 110-year losing streak.
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for some language.
Bobby Boucher Jr. (Adam Sandler) is a Mama's boy (and his mama is the awesome Kathy Bates) who learns to channel his anger into hard-hitting football as a linebacker. More silly than inspiring — it is Adam Sandler, after all — and full of hilarious lines you'll find yourself randomly quoting for years!
Note to Parents: Rated PG-13 for language and some crude sexual humor.
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