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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 02/ 8/2010

Can anyone quarterback a good movie?

By Christian Pelusi

In the last two Super Bowls, we've been treated to four virtuoso performances by quarterbacks as the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger outdueled the Cardinals' Kurt Warner in 2009 and last night, the Saints' Drew Brees prevailed over the Colts' Peyton Manning. For years, the adage in the NFL has been that to win, you need a franchise quarterback. The same should be said for football movies.

Let's take a look back as some recent gridiron films and their signal-callers and see who passed muster.

The Replacements (2000)
QB: Keanu Reeves (Shane Falco)

The notion that these scab players were filling in for striking professionals was not lost on Reeves, whose on-field performance is rivaled only by his Southern accent in "The Devil's Advocate." And while the southpaw did have more zip on the ball than I thought he would, he's no Steve Young.


Small ball: Head coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) talk strategy with QB Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx) in "Any Given Sunday." (Getty Images)

Any Given Sunday (1999)
QBs: Dennis Quaid ('Cap' Rooney) and Jamie Foxx (Willie Beaman)

The brand of football captured in this Oliver Stone movie looked more like the awful Vince McMahon-hatched XFL that was to come in 2001 than modern-day professional football. But through the lens of America's favorite rabble-rousing director we see an admirable performance by Quaid as a quarterback in the sunset of his career, taking what looks to be truly ferocious hits. As for his apprentice, Foxx -- who ticks in at 5 feet, 9 inches -- runs around well, but imagining a Lilliputian running any NFL offense other than the Wildcat is a bit much.

Varsity Blues (1999)
QBs: James Van Der Beek (Jonathon Moxon) and Paul Walker (Lance Harbor)

Sure the football scenes are laughable -- backed by such jock jams as The Foo Fighters' "There Goes My Hero" -- and the hijinks and family dynamics portrayed are as cliched as Hollywood can manufacture. One positive is Walker, who, with his limited screen time on the field, proved to be a believable high school quarterback. (At least as much as the film could allow you to believe.) But when he's felled by an injury, enter Van Der Beek whose sloppy drawl, wobbly throws and Dawson doe-eyes are nearly impossible to handle. Unless it's "The Heath Shuler Story."

The Longest Yard (2005)
QB: Adam Sandler (Paul Crewe)

Sandler changes the the tenor of the movie from the 1974 original which was more dramatic and socially aware to the usual Sandler fare, full of camp and more concerned about squeezing in sigh-inducing cameos. As a result, Sandler plays more ringmaster than athlete, but he comes bulked up like a good inmate would.

What're your thoughts on actors as quarterbacks? And why hasn't there been a classic football film yet on the level of a "Raging Bull" or "Rocky" for boxing or "The Natural" or "Bull Durham" for baseball?

Christian Pelusi is a senior producer in Style and laughs every time he sees "The Bachelor" throw a football.

By Christian Pelusi  | February 8, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture  
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Comments

What no Scott Bakula from Necessary Roughness?

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | February 8, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Slap Shot.

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 8, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

North Dallas Forty. The 70s were the high water mark for great football movies.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 8, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The only other football movies I can think of are:
Rudy
Jerry Maguire

They don't really fit the bill, do they?

Posted by: Roxie1 | February 8, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

What about the Mark Wahlberg film, Invincible? Based (more or less) on a true story - I thought it was as watchable as most football games.

Posted by: Beach_Girl | February 8, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one old enough to remember Brian's Song?

Posted by: mat00 | February 8, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one old enough to remember Brian's Song?

Posted by: mat00 | February 8, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Brian's Song. But that was more about friendship than football.

Query: Is there something about the game of football that just does not lend itself to good dramatic interpretion? Goodness knows the game has its dramatic moments: the Catch, the David Tyree Catch, yesterday's game.

Posted by: epjd | February 8, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan in "Knute Rockne, All American"?

I confess I've never seen the movie, so I nominate the former President based entirely on his performance in Don Siegel's 1964 version of "The Killers," starring Lee Marvin.

Posted by: byoolin1 | February 8, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

'scuse me for the double post. It's probably an age thing.

Posted by: mat00 | February 8, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I nominate the former President based entirely on Lee Marvin's performance in Don Siegel's 1964 version of "The Killers," also featuring Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: byoolin1 | February 8, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course, there is my favorite football movie of all time - The Last Boyscout - with Heaven Can Wait, a close second. I think both of those were about quarterbacks.

Posted by: Beach_Girl | February 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"Remember the Titans"

"Friday Night Lights" (from whence the TV series)

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Well
1997's Fever Pitch with Colin Firth was a good football film... and you didnt need anyone for the role of quarterback.

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | February 8, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

My favorite football films have always been "Brian's Song" and "The Program." Actually, those are really the only two I like. Why does baseball lend itself so much better to movies?

Posted by: starbuck13 | February 8, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

No question about it- North Dallas Forty is the best and most realistic pro football movie, and Friday Night Lights is the best high school one. As for college- Horse Feathers with the Marx bros.

Posted by: justmike | February 8, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Mat, I remember Brian's Song
And still cry...

But what about that godawful movie about the Super Bowl and terrorists?
What was the name...Argh, talk about getting old.
Maybe it's a mental block

Posted by: nhall1 | February 8, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

nhall1: I think it was "Bloody Sunday"

Posted by: dcdoug | February 8, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

oops: I meant "Black Sunday" 1977

Posted by: dcdoug | February 8, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I can't beleive nobody's said it, so I will:

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

But seriously, North Dallas Forty, even though it's rather dated and is all about the Cow-girls, is definitely the best football movie and is a classic at least on par with Bull Durham.

Posted by: klaw009x | February 9, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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