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Movie Night: Football Films

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, so let's get the couch warmed up with a Movie Night. This week's theme: football movies. These three will make for good date-night viewing, since they have a little bit of something for everyone (assuming one of you is a football fan). I could make some lame sports/love pun here — something involving touchdowns, perhaps — but "My Boys" has put me off those forever. So just grab some beer and buffalo wings and enjoy the films.

Any Given Sunday
Though it leans a little heavy on the football-as-war metaphors, Oliver Stone's over-the-top football flick is better than you might think, with chaotic cinematography, a killer hip-hop soundtrack, and a sinister normalcy holding it all together. Here, we get the first hints that Jamie Foxx can act, as he plays the young hotshot to Dennis Quaid's aging quarterback on the fictional Miami Sharks pro squad. There are plenty of quiet acting gems in the big ensemble cast, including Matthew Modine as the conflicted team doctor. Offering surprising moments of depth for what, at times, feels like a music video, Any Given Sunday will rally football fans and non-fans alike.

To see the other two,

Jerry Maguire
Even if you haven't seen this movie, you can probably quote it, since Jerry Maguire birthed two well-known one-liners: "Show me the money!" and "You. Complete. Me." Egomaniac Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a sports agent who is all about the money but magically grows a conscience when he loses his job and falls for the sweet single mom Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). Cuba Gooding Jr. is in top form as Jerry's loyal client Rod Tidwell, who sticks by Jerry even when his career is in turmoil.

Friday Night Lights
These athletes are far from the Super Bowl, but their fans are just as rabid. Before it was an outstanding TV show, Friday Night Lights was an outstanding nonfiction book following the Permian Panthers high-school football team in Odessa, TX. This nicely done film adaptation ably captures the players' personal and sports-related struggles as they carry the optimism of a hopeless town on their shoulders. A subdued and wise Billy Bob Thornton stars as coach, but the movie is most notable for its ability to make us care deeply about each of the players despite not really knowing any of them — kind of like a real football team.


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