Hollywood can't resist tweaking great sports stories
Posted: Monday January 16, 2006 12:21PM; Updated: Monday January 16, 2006 12:21PM
It's no coincidence that the best sports movie I've ever seen -- and probably one of the five best overall -- was a documentary: Hoop Dreams. One of the things that makes it so great is that while it has certain familiar elements (the unscrupulous, shuckster coaches, for one), they don't feel like cliches, because they are real. The movie is proof that when properly told, a sports story can carry a film without embellishment.
So why does Hollywood insist on taking dramatic license with what are already amazing stories? Munich, Glory Road, The Greatest Game Ever Played.... The list goes on. In each case, the source material is compelling enough to stand on its own. But inevitably it's decided to make the story even "better" -- to have Texas Western come from behind in the second half, as if their historic win over Kentucky wasn't interesting enough, for instance. And while that might make for a few more edge-of-the-seat moments, it also makes viewers wonder how much of what they've seen is real. It brings the entire project into question.
It'd be nice if before deciding whether to make a movie "based on real events" or make one that's faithful to history, moviemakers took an afternoon to watch Hoop Dreams, Murderball and Unforgivable Blackness. They might see that there are a lot of tales out there that are just fine when told honestly.