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Thursday, February 28, 2013

4 Feel Good Sports Movies That Actually Have Terrible Endings

WARNING: This post contains spoilers to the following movies. Although considering the title of this post, I would hope you would understand that.

Angels In The Outfield (1994)

THE PLOT:  A young orphaned Joseph Gordon-Levitt has nothing going right for him. He has no parents, no one wants to adopt him, and worst of all, his mighty California Angels baseball team is terrible. Young Jo-Go wants nothing more than his favorite team to win the pennant so he wishes it so. To make up for the fact that he doesn't have a family, God sends down actual angels to make the California Angels play like champs.

THE ENDING: Being in the spirit of Disney, the Angels do end up winning the pennant over the hated and rival Chicago White Sox (and Donald Glover decided that he is not too old for this shit and adopts Gordon-Levitt and his buddy)

WHY THIS ENDING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE: Really, the entire plot of the movie is stupid and the reason for it is because the writers of this movie don't understand baseball. Either that or Jo-Go's character has a low bar for his Fighting Halos. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does not wish for his baseball team to win the World Series, he only wants his team to win the pennant- which are two separate things.

All the pennant means is that you won your league and you now are in the World Series game. However, just because you won your league's pennant and play in the World Series does not mean that you won it all. Ask the Detroit Tigers.

The movie ends up with the Angels winning the pennant and the entire city rejoices. But the team is not done playing. They still have one more series left to play.

I understand that winning the pennant was a much bigger deal back in 1994 and was a much bigger deal for essentially the entire history of baseball before the addition of the Wild Card game back in the mid-90's, but if you are going to make a wish that seems unlikely to happen, why not wish for your team to win it all as opposed to selling yourself short?

Major League (1989)

THE PLOT: Rachel Phelps is a showgirl who inherits the Cleveland Indians from her now dead husband. She attempts to put the worst team together so she can sell the franchise and move it to Florida. If attendance reaches less than 800,000 then Phelps can move the team without penalty. The team figures out this plan, bands together, and attempts to win the World Series as a play to force the owner to keep them and the franchise around.

THE ENDING: The Cleveland Indians defeat the Chicago White Sox (Jeez, ANOTHER White Sox loss? Do the Southsiders ever get a break in film? Good thing I'm not reviewing 8 Men Out) to force a tie for the division lead. The Indians now have to face the actually-hated-by-everyone New York Yankees to make it to the playoffs. Of course, in dramatic fashion, the Indians do defeat the Yankees and everyone is happy.

WHY THIS ENDING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE: All the Indians did was make it to the playoffs. That's it. They didn't even win a playoff game. Before the new wild card rules were set up in 2012, teams played a game 163 all the time and winning that game really doesn't mean anything.

I know there are sequels to Major League which help out this ending for a little bit; however, when this movie was released, this ending was silly.

While the team easily managed to get over the fan threshold by being an awesome and winning team, there is still more to the movie. These men are playing for their jobs and say on many different occasions throughout the film that it is World Series or bust. They know they are going to lose their jobs so they might as well go out on top.

But what do they really do? They win a chance to go to the playoffs. Even worse, as we learn in Major League 2, the Indians lose to the White Sox in the ALCS (Man, fuck these motherfucking White Sox!). Go team go.

Cool Runnings (1993)

THE PLOT: 4 athletes from the tropical island of Jamaica convince John Candy, a former disgraced Olympic bobsled athlete, to help them train to become Jamaica's bobsled team. Despite everyone, both at home in Jamaica and at the Winter Olympics, saying this group of non-Bobsledders will never amount to anything, Candy and the crew will prove all the haters wrong. I mean, this IS a Disney movie so of course the haters are wrong.

THE ENDING: The Jamaican Bobsled Team defeated the hated Chicago White Sox to win the Gold medal. Just kidding, but screw the White Sox.

After having qualified for the Olympics, the Jamaican Bobsled Team has three runs to compete for a medal. After the first run, the team finishes in dead last. After the second run, the team movies up to eighth place. On the third and final run, after a great start, the sled breaks and crashed on the track, and counts as a disqualification. However, the 4 athletes carry their sled across the finish line so... Moral Victory!

Then the text appears on the screen where we are told the Jamaicans were treated as equals at the next Winter Olympics. Super Moral Victory!

WHY THIS ENDING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE: Wait, what?! Not only does this rag-tag team of runners from a country that has no snow not even get close to qualifying for a medal, they did nothing four year later as well?! Basically, all of the haters were right and this team could not compete with the other true athletes. Just because you put inspirational music in the background during the final scene of a movie does not automatically make that movie inspirational.

Disney once again proves that if you follow your dreams and try to win despite everyone telling you can't, just realize, everyone is actually right and you will fail. It does not matter how big the odds are that you face, those odds will win so you might as well not waste anyone's time or money. Just give up.

We Are Marshall (2006)

THE PLOT: After a horrific plane crash essentially kills everyone associated with the Marshall University football program, Matthew McConaughey's checkbones take over the program in attempt to rebuild it from scratch. This proves to be a difficult task because screw that school that just suffered a huge tragedy.

THE ENDING: McConaughey finally puts together a football team but it turns out that his team is not very good because scrawny white kids are not good at sports. After losing its first game, Marshall wins its second game and the movie ends. You know, because a college football season is only two games long.

WHY THIS ENDING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE: The film ends while Marshall is still in the middle of its season. When the end credits roll, this football team is 1-1. I understand that it's pretty impressive that the Marshall Thundering Herd were able to win a game at all considering no kid wanted to play for the team, but even so, a single winning game doesn't give this story a happy ending. Even a Jim Caldwell coached team can win ONE game.

In reality, the airplane crash essentially destroyed the Marshall football program. For the next ten years the team went 23- 83 and didn't have a single winning season until 14 years AFTER the crash. For an inspirational story of a community trying to get back on its feet, it actually didn't.

What ending to a sports movie bugs you the most?


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[Eds. Note. the original post stated under the Cool Runnings section that the Jamaican bobsled team had three trial runs to compete for the Olympics. This section has been edited since the movie portrays the team as having qualified for the Olympics and the three runs were for medal competition. 

Further, watching the film again, the movie does consistently portray the Jamaican bobsled team as a "joke" to the rest of the competitive teams, so the notion of having the Jamaican team earn everyone's respect is not out-of-line with the themes of the film. But you know, it's not like in at any point of the Jamaican bobsled team's history did it ever get close to winning a medal, which is at heart what this post is about.]