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Don’t know if you’ve seen it but the Olympics have been on television and the internet (as well as getting people crazy on Twitter). And if you are like the majority of summer television-watching Americans, you’ve become heavily invested in sports and athletes you’ll most likely never hear about again (or at least for the next four years).
Or maybe you are like me and the Olympics don’t really do anything for ya. That’s why we have movies: to enjoy to majesty of competition through the cinematic lens. I’ve compiled a quick way to enjoy the Olympics without ever putting on a tape-delayed NBC. These movies have everything.
Bernard "Beanie" Campbell and Frank "The Tank" Ricard, Old School
Forget for a second that their frat house, freedom and lives were on the line and just bask in the grace and glory of the human form. Outside of Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comaneci, I’d contend no two people did more to promote the beauty of gymnastics than these heroes. From Vaughn’s cigarette-wielding Iron Cross (Still holding! Still holding!) to Ferrell’s ribbon-toting leaps and bounds, they broke down barriers while tumbling their way to redemption.
Honorable mention to Weensie for his triple flip vault miracle that defied every Physics principle.
Thornton Melon, Back to School
The Triple Lindy. The most difficult dive in the universe and seemingly impossible for guy like Thornton Melon who already had a lot going against him in getting back to school. What, with a prick-ish Economics professor, cheating wife, Sam Kinnison stuck back in ‘Nam, constant partying schedule, and a struggling son. But hey, when you can get Kurt Vonnegut to crank out a paper or two for you, the Triple Lindy probably doesn’t seem so daunting. So when a bathrobe-d Melon struts up to the board and performs the greatest diving feat known to man (in the most boring sport known to everyone), well that is the kind of thing the Olympics are all about.
Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
Put your mind, however feeble, to something and you can accomplish anything. This is the basic conceit of Forrest Gump (the dude played D-1 football for Pete’s sake) His singular focus and unerring drive led him to breaking through an Asian-dominated sport and into our hearts forever, while actually taking home Olympic gold to boot. It ain’t easy incorporating ping pong into film, just ask the folks over at Balls of Fury, but Forrest, Forrest Gump made table tennis exciting, even mesmerizing. The lesson? Whack a ball against a wall or into a bedpan enough and good things will happen.
Monroe Clark and Zack Barnes, Side Out
When you think of championship-level, world class, hot-bodied beach volleyball you might picture Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings ripping through inferior competition with ease. Or maybe you’re a little old school and Karch Kiraly is more your flavor. But not me. No way. When I want to go full on, bro-style, spiking, serving and getting sandy I think of the Mr. Miyagi-Daniel Son relationship between Barnes and Clark. These two dominated the California beaches in a damn-the-man way that surely would have translated to the big stage, even if a dude like Barnes was just in it for the rays.
Honorable mention here to Maverick, Goose, Iceman and the rest of the Top Gun crew who lathered themselves up for the sexiest and most homoerotic beach volleyball match ever captured on film.
Track and Field
Lamar Latrell, Revenge of the Nerds
There are timelessly transcendent lines in movies and then there is this one:
“He designed the javelin to go along with Lamar’s limp-wristed throwing style.”
Just genius. And when the Tri-Lambs compete in the Greek Games they put on a display of drunk tricycle riding, electronic violin-ing, and belching that would make any mother proud. But the highlight for me is watching that javelin wobble through the air and validate (sort of) the non-athleticism of nerds everywhere. Eat your heart out record breaking javelin throwers who no one has ever heard of.
Apologies for the super grainy vid, couldn’t find this clip anywhere
Todd Howard, Teen Wolf Too
When given the ability to transform into a superhumanly athletic and coordinated werewolf whenever a certain moon or mood strikes, there’s probably no Olympic event one wouldn’t dominate. Hell, I could have slotted Todd Howard’s cousin Scott onto the USA basketball team with Lebron and Kobe. But for our purposes, amateur boxing fits in nicely with the spirit of the Games. And though the movie execs want you to focus on Todd’s dance numbers and super wolf-y libido, its the boxing matches that really take the cake here. Slap some gloves on this wolf and watch him howl and box his way to gold.
Zohan Dvir, You Don't Mess With The Zohan
And last not but not least we take to the pool to watch people swimming back and forth. Ah, the Olympics. Michael Phelps, in all his monosyllabic majesty has ruled over the chlorinated kingdom with a dominance we’re not soon to see again. Simply put, dude’s half fish (the rest is bong resin). But he’s lucky Zohan never got in the lane next to him, because that guy’s something else entirely. Honestly, I’ve never seen this flick, but this scene was pointed out to me when developing this piece. And it fits perfectly. Zohan’s merman-like butterfly stroke through the ocean is something even Phelps can aspire to. And I bet the Baltimore Bullet never out swam a jet ski and punched the driver. Because that’s a feat easily worth his ten jillion Olympic medals.