On March 7, 2015, the seedings and pairings were announced for March Madness, Hollywood Style. The results from the East, Mid-West and South Regions have since been reported, so we now turn to the last region of the “Round of 64.” The West Region match-up summaries and results are as follows:
Top of the Bracket:
Jerry McGuire (Football, 1996) # 1 Seed
Mystery, Alaska (Hockey, 1999) #16 Seed
“Show me the money.” “Help me help you.” “You had me at hello.” These are just examples of some of the quotable lines that came from “Jerry McGuire” and continue to live on. Cuba Gooding Jr was remarkable as Rod Tidwell and the fact that he portrayed an Arizona Cardinal before it was cool to be part of the Cardinals was even better. The film is loosely based upon mega-sports agent Leigh Steinberg and it had it all: comedy, drama, love story and a really cute kid. “Mystery, Alaska” involved a small town amateur hockey team who played an exhibition game against the NY Rangers. Starring Russell Crowe, the film was part “Bad News Bears,” part “Slap Shot” and part “The Replacements.” But what its parts do not add up to is a victory in the first round. It’s no mystery why Jerry McGuire advances over “Mystery, Alaska.”
Caddyshack (Golf, 2006) #8 Seed
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Dodgeball, 2004) #9 Seed
It’s “Caddyshack.” What more needs to be said? Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase and Ted Knight. That is an all-star lineup. And who can forget Carl Spackler, the groundskeeper played by Bill Murray, with his famous golf fantasy scene where he said : “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac…It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”‘ ESPN has listed this film as among the greatest sports comedies of all time. As for “Dodgeball,” it had every ingredient to be a bomb but it was anything but. Vince Vaughn was good and Ben Stiller was at his best. The film grossed almost $160 million. But the true underdog story that is Dodgeball could not beat the gopher and “Caddyshack” moves on.
Round of 32 match-up: #9 “Caddyshack” against #1 “Jerry McGuire.”
Moneyball (Baseball, 2011) #4 Seed
Seabiscuit (Horse Racing, 2003) #13 Seed
“Moneyball” seemingly did the impossible. It turned a book about sabermetrics and created a legitimate drama. Nominated for six Academy Awards, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill show that two complete opposites can have a great deal of chemistry. It was a successful version of what Kevin Costner’s “Draft Day” failed to create; a “fly on the wall” look at the decision-making in professional sports. As for “Seabiscuit,” it took the true story of an undersized thoroughbred who had an oversized heart and portrayed the story with grace, charm and warmth. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and deservingly so. Despite the rankings, this came down to a photo-finish and the horse won by a nose as a long-shot.
Longest Yard (Football, 1974) #5 Seed
Million Dollar Baby (Boxing, 2004) #12 Seed
“The Longest Yard” was made twice into film, first in 1974 starring Burt Reynolds and then again in 2005, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock (and featuring Burt Reynolds). They should have quit while they were ahead as the first version was great and the second version was the exact opposite. Reynolds played a football star whose career was tarnished by allegations of throwing a game. He ended up in prison and this story focused on a team of inmates playing a game against the prison guards. Casting was credible, particularly since Reynolds played college football at Florida State, where he was reportedly a roommate of Lee Corso (of ESPN’s College Game Day). The film is just pure fun. “Million Dollar Baby” starred Hillary Swank as a woman boxer and by the film’s end, she made us all believers that she could fight. Morgan Freeman put in one of his many memorable performances and Clint Eastwood did everything else, starring, directing and producing the film. It won Academy Awards in 2004 for Best Picture, Best Director (Eastwood), Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman) and, here, it bests “The Longest Yard” for one of the great upsets of the first round.
Round of 32 match-up: #13 “Seabiscuit” against #12 “Million Dollar Baby.”
Bottom of the East Bracket:
Happy Gilmore (Golf, 1996) # 2 Seed
Any Given Sunday (Football, 1999) #15 Seed
Of all the Adam Sandler films, Happy Gilmore is either number one or two (the other being “Billy Madison”). Happy was a failed hockey player who found that he could play golf and could make some quick money to help his grandmother. The film featured the former Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers who played Chubbs) as well as Happy’s love interest, played by Julie Bowen, who is now far more known as Claire Dunphy in Modern Family. It is predictable and completely improbable but it works! “Any Given Sunday” had the ingredients to be an incomparable hit. Al Pacino starred as Coach Tony D’Amato of the fictional Miami Sharks and his fellow cast members included Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, Charlton Heston, LL Cool J, Lawrence Taylor, James Woods, Ann-Margaret and Cameron Diaz. Football, great actors, exciting story line…what could go wrong? Well, just about everything. The film is so over-produced that you could suffer a concussion just watching the hits. In any event, it made the Field of 64 but bows out early as a film that could have been but wasn’t.
The Blind Side (Football, 20090) #7 Seed
The Sandlot (Baseball, 1983) #10 Seed
The purported true story of NFL lineman Michael Oher became “The Blind Side.” While Oher has disputed some of the scenes portrayed, the story is still great and Sandra Bullock deserved her Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy. Tim McGraw played “the dad” but was far better playing a similar role in “Friday Night Lights.” Another one of those feel-good sentimental films is “The Sandlot,” about a group of kids playing baseball in 1962. It is about fitting in, friendship and fear of the unknown (you all remember “The Beast, don’t you?). While the #7 seed tells about a heart-warming story, the #10 seed makes us feel the warmth from the memories of growing up. “The Sandlot” moves on.
Round of 32 match-up: #2 “Happy Gilmore” against #10 “The Sandlot”
Karate Kid (Martial Arts, 1984) # 3 Seed
The Bad News Bears (Baseball, 1976) #14 Seed
Ralph Macchio has since shown that he cannot act but yet he is Daniel LaRusso and Daniel LaRusso is Ralph Macchio. While Pat Morita could act, he is Mr. Miyagi and Mr. Miyagi is Pat Morita. And let’s not forget about Elizabeth Shue, who just about everyone wished could have been their girlfriend in high school. The Karate Kid spawned four sequels, two with Macchio and Morita, one with Hillary Swank and the last with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. None came close to matching the warmth and story-telling as the very first. “The Bad News Bears” starred Walter Matthau as a crusty old little league coach and Tatum O’Neil (who later married and then divorced tennis great John McEnroe) as the girl who could beat the boys. It is a comedy through and through but when released, it also showed everything that was wrong with little league sports. In this match-up, it is bad news for the Bears, as they get “waxed on, waxed off.”
Coach Carter (Basketball, 2005) #6 Seed
White Men Can’t Jump (Basketball, 1992) #11 Seed
If ever there was a movie that rested on the shoulders of one person, it would be “Coach Carter.” Don’t get me wrong, the supporting cast was good, but Samuel L. Jackson made this a great film. It portrayed the true story about Coach Ken Carter of the Richmond High School basketball team. Coach Carter understood that high school sports were as much about development of character as it was about the actual sport and this film was a winner. “White Men Can’t Jump” showed us that great screen chemistry can make any story line work. Here, Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes were fantastic as two concrete court basketball hustlers. What most people don’t know is that the two teamed together in another sports movie six years earlier (“Wildcats” starring Goldie Hawn). Both films are worthy of being in the field, but “Coach Carter” moves on. “Rich who? Rich-mond!”
Round of 32 match-up: #3 “Karate Kid” against #6 “Coach Carter.”
Next up: The Round of 32 (East and Mid-West Regions).