In my last post, I listed the top 5 “Teen Angst” and “Heartbreaking Relationship” movies that I can’t wait to share with my kids when they get older. In this post, I cover the next 5 movies I’m looking forward to watching with them someday.
My husband finds it funny that I barely played sports growing up, rarely attend live sporting events, and almost never watch sports on TV, but, on any given day, when you ask me for a list of my favorite movies, I always include at least three sports movies. When he asked me why, I responded that, with few exceptions, sports movies consistently have heart. It’s not actually about what happens on the field or the court, though that’s obviously part of it. You see the people behind the games, what it takes for them to succeed, and how they define success, and that’s what makes sports movies great.
Sports Movie #1: Moneyball
Based on a true story and the book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball details the baseball season when Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane decides to change his approach to player recruitment. After frustratingly losing in the playoffs to the New York Yankees, a team ten times wealthier, he recruits a whiz kid who majored in economics at Yale from the Cleveland Indians as his assistant general manager. Together, they build an inexpensive, but powerful, team based on the mathematical premise of Bill James, a writer who published his theories in the 1970s and 1980s.
Ignoring all contrary subjective advice from the team’s scouts, Beane relies on the statistical calculations of his assistant GM to recruit players who “Get on base.” As Beane bucks the system and faces pressure from baseball traditionalists to end the madness, you root for him and his ragtag team to prove them wrong.
Best line: “Don’t make me point at Pete again.”
Lessons for my kids: Study math. No, seriously, in the modern world, expertise with mathematics and data analysis drives business – all kinds of business. Additionally, if you can’t compete under traditional rules, find a new way. Change the culture, and be strong enough to meet resistance.
Sports Movie #2: Hoosiers
Loosely based on a true story, Hoosiers tells the story of a 6-man high school basketball team from a small farming town who won the Indiana state basketball championship in 1954. The ultimate underdog tale, the film highlights the flaws of the coach and his small group of players, and it emphasizes the elements necessary for building a winning team – trust, mutual respect, hard work, and sacrifice. Hoosiers also spotlights the narrow-mindedness of small towns and the difficulty outsiders encounter when they arrive on the scene and try to change long-held traditions.
Best line: “I love you guys. Team!”
Lessons for my kids: Dream big, and ignore the odds. Believe in yourself, and don’t get intimidated. The basketball net at the big arena for the state championships is the same height as the one in your home gym.
Sports Movie #3: Jerry Maguire
Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but this movie deserves to be on this list. A slick sports agent, Jerry Maguire begins to experience a crisis of conscience when some of his players get seriously injured due to the rigorous demands of their contracts. He vows to adopt a more human approach and take on fewer clients, giving each more personal attention. Unfortunately, Jerry puts his late night thoughts into book form, and then he distributes it to every agent in his company. This vulnerable act leads to the loss of his job and lands him with exactly one difficult client.
As that difficult client, Cuba Gooding Jr’s character, Rod Tidwell, makes the movie. Rod leads Jerry on a funny, frustrating, and humbling journey of self-discovery and helps him find family in the most unexpected of places. Renee Zellweger comes along for the ride as the starry-eyed single mother who risks her own livelihood to follow Jerry’s partially envisioned mission.
Best line: “Jerry Maguire? You are my ambassador of Kwan, man.”
Lessons for my kids: Integrity isn’t always popular, but it’s necessary to sleep at night. Attitude means everything. Rod Tidwell, bitter and entitled at the beginning of the movie, fails to achieve success in his career until he develops a more positive attitude.
Dark American History Movies
Not all American history paints us as the good guys, riding in to save the day. Some of the most harrowing American history takes place through covert operations, and, for our own protection, regular citizens know little or nothing about them, until those missions become declassified.
Dark American History Movie #1: Argo
In terms of news stories in the background of my childhood, the Iran hostage crisis serves as the first one I remember. Argo details the story of six American diplomats who escaped through the back door of the embassy before it was taken hostage. They sought refuge and holed up in the home of the Canadian ambassador while the American government ran through scenarios of how to rescue them covertly. Based on a true story, Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA agent and brainchild of the off-the-wall “exfiltration” mission, which involved faking a location scout in Iran for a never-to-be-made science fiction movie.
Best line: “This is the best bad idea we have, sir.”
Lessons for my kids: Creativity and thinking outside the box sometimes save lives. Have the courage to put your worst idea forward. It may be the only viable option.
Dark American History Movie #2: Zero Dark Thirty
Sharing glimpses into the extended intelligence operation known as the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty stars Jessica Chastain as “Maya”, the CIA analyst who finally located him and led Seal Team Six to his whereabouts. After delivering her intelligence report to skeptical government leadership, she waits agonizingly for over 100 days in Washington, D.C. for a “go” decision to be made.
Best line: “100% he’s there. OK, 95%, ‘cause I know certainty freaks you guys out, but it’s 100.”
Lessons for my kids: For my daughter, women can do anything and be anything they want to be. Brave, vocal, intelligent women of conviction make history. For both kids, even when you know you’re right, you need the communication skills and the power of a coherent argument to convince the doubters who might stand in your way.