The 12 Harshest Roger Ebert Takedowns Of Bad Sports Movies
The great writer really, really didn't like these sports flicks
Roger Ebert, one of the finest writers of our times and the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism, passed away Thursday at 70.
An independent thinker if ever there was one, the longtime Chicago Sun-Times scribe could surprise you with good reviews for what seemed like bad movies — Three stars for Air Bud! Three-and-a-half for Legend of Bagger Vance! — but Ebert never spared the rod when he believed a film was truly dismal.
And there’s no shortage of dismal when it comes to sports films. Here are 12 of Ebert’s most memorable takedowns of movies from perhaps cinema’s most formulaic genre.
JOHNNY BE GOOD (0.5 stars): "This movie is simply financial leakage, a squandering of resources equivalent to polluting a river or plowing under a rain forest. I'm serious. We're desperate for things to think about in this society, and these guys contribute to the situation by providing us with 86 minutes of zip. They oughta have their pictures on the post office wall." (Orion Pictures)
ROLLERBALL (0.5 stars): "'Rollerball' is an incoherent mess, a jumble of footage in search of plot, meaning, rhythm and sense. There are bright colors and quick movement on the screen, which we can watch as a visual pattern that, in entertainment value, falls somewhere between a kaleidoscope and a lava lamp." (Getty Images)
THE WATERBOY (1 star): "Do I have something visceral against Adam Sandler? I hope not. I try to keep an open mind and approach every movie with high hopes. It would give me enormous satisfaction (and relief) to like him in a movie. But I suggest he is making a tactical error when he creates a character whose manner and voice has the effect of fingernails on a blackboard, and then expects us to hang in there for a whole movie." (Buena Vista/Getty Images)
D3: THE MIGHTY DUCKS (1 star): "'D3: The Mighty Ducks' is the first movie title I've seen that correctly predicts its grade on Entertainment Weekly's movie report card: a D." (Disney)
THE SIXTH MAN (1.5 stars): "Let's not talk about how predictable it is. Let's talk about how dumb it is." (Getty Images)
MAJOR LEAGUE II (1.5 stars): "There's one bright spot: On the basis of this dismal attempt, the team will probably not be back next season." (Diamond Images/Getty Images)
THE SCOUT (1.5 stars): "'The Scout' starts out as a terrific comedy, continues as a pointless drama, and ends as a cornball cliffhanger. Rarely does a movie start high and go downhill so fast. It's as if the filmmakers progressively lost their nerve with every additional scene. ... It's almost easier when a movie is bad all the way through, instead of getting our hopes up only to betray them. 'The Scout' begins with a big windup, and ends with ball four." (20th Century Fox)
ROCKY IV (1.5 stars): "Rocky IV" has many moments that are not believable. My favorite is the moment when Rocky faces Drago in the ring in Moscow, and the all-Russian crowd starts chanting "Rocky! Rocky!" Sure. Uh-huh. You bet. ... Stallone says this will be the last Rocky movie. He should have taken Rocky Marciano as an example, and retired undefeated. (United Artists/Everett Collection)
KAZAAM (1.5 stars): "As for Shaquille O'Neal, given his own three wishes the next time, he should go for a script, a director and an interesting character." (PolyGram)
EDDIE (1.5 stars): "The movie features a lot of pro basketball players, who mostly do a good job of playing sanitized, toned-down versions of real-life athletes. The movie might have had more fun being more real. I didn't for a moment believe the Knicks would (a) accept a fan as their coach, or (b) act on her advice. And I wasn't much impressed by the coaching, either; Eddie runs up and down thesidelines shouting 'Defense!' and 'Hit the open man!'--which just about anyone would be happy to do for $50,000 a year." (Getty Images)
JUWANNA MANN (2 stars): "Hollywood never flags in its lack of invention; on July 3, we'll get Lil' Bow Wow in 'Like Mike,' as a small kid who stars in the NBA, with many of the same jokes appropriately adapted. What's next? A dog that plays basketball? Only joking. We've already had that one." (Kent Eanes/Morgan Creek Pictures via Getty Images)
THE REPLACEMENTS (2 stars): "It's like a standard sports movie, but with every point made twice or three times--as if we'd never seen one before. And the musical score provides such painstaking instructions about how to feel during every scene, it's like the booklet that tells you how to unpack your computer." (Ron Phillips/Warner Bros./Getty Images)
(Follow these links for Ebert’s full reviews: Johnny Be Good, Rollerball, The Waterboy, D3: The Mighty Ducks, The Sixth Man, Major League II, The Scout, Rocky IV, Kazaam, Eddie, Juwanna Mann, The Replacements.)