Sports films are incredibly hit and miss with a lot more of them ending up in the miss column. There are usually several new sports films released a year, but only about once or twice a decade does one come along that does something special. The last one that I really found great was 2004’s Friday Night Lights. If you count Million Dollar Baby a sports movie, that was another great one.
There is another sports movie that is just over the horizon that I have very high hopes for. ESPN and the National Football League have expanded their reach to include feature films. They have teamed up with Andell Entertainment to produce Lombardi, a biopic about the Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi set for release in 2011.
The plan is to give football fans something to hold them over in that idle weekend between Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. The production team would attempt to make this a regular occurrence, after initially trying it out. Now, this would make it seem that it is just going to be another hastily thrown-together macho sports movie. However, there are some things about this project that give me very high hopes.
More after the jump…
First of all, it seems that they are going for something that is smarter than your average sports movie:
The tone of the film has changed from a traditional sports film into something closer to “Raging Bull,” said Semiao, who rewrote David Murray’s script. The film is still partly based on Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer’s memoir “Instant Replay,” and Vince Lombardi Jr. and Kramer remain as consultants.
The film will highlight the long rivalry between Lombardi and Dallas Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry, who were line coaches on the New York Giants team that lost the 1958 championship game considered to be the greatest ever played. They had different styles — Landry was cool, Lombardi fire and brimstone — and their teams battled in 1967’s “Ice Bowl,” the championship game played in temperatures that reached 13 below zero.
Anything that says it will resemble Raging Bull, which is my all-time favorite sports movie, is grand. Rather than focusing just on the rivalry that is mentioned in the second paragraph, if they focus on Lombardi’s internal struggle with how to deal with his impending greatness. Lombardi’s legend is larger than life, and if a film is able to humanize him and break the legend down to view the parts of the man I think it will be a great success.
I also am looking forward to this film because I am a die-hard Packer fan. I love the history of the team and would gladly pay to see anybody who will put it on screen.
Look for more information on the film to come. It is scheduled to release in 2011.