Parental Guidance

Don't Care about the Super Bowl? Here Are Three Football Movies You Can Watch with Your Family Instead

by | February 2, 2018 | Comments

The big movie this week is the PG-13-rated haunted house flick Winchester, but it wasn’t screened for critics, so Christy offers an opinion on a smaller animated film that isn’t really for young children. And if you don’t care much for the Super Bowl this Sunday — or the teams in it — Christy also has three great suggestions for football movies you can watch with kids of different ages. Read on for the full list.


THE MOVIE

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2018) 59%

Rating: PG-13, for violence/warfare and some thematic elements.

It’s an animated film with an inspiring story, but be warned: Bilal: A New Breed of Hero really isn’t for younger viewers. In telling the tale of a real-life slave who found his voice, followed his faith, and ultimately declared his independence, director and co-writer Khurram H. Alavi includes several battle scenes – some intimate, some massive, but all quite intense. Horses thunder across a dark, foreboding landscape, and a massive monster made of sand and fire with glowing red eyes swirls and hovers ominously. From the very start, our hero, Bilal – a 7th century slave in Hejaz, currently western Saudi Arabia – is in danger. Marauders strip his mother away in front of him and his sister. Later (when he’s voiced as a teen by Jacob Latimore and as an adult by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), he’s chained, beaten, and whipped for thinking for himself and following his own God at a time when others worshipped idols. The ultimate message is worthwhile, but the story is a bit of a slog, and it may be hard for young people to follow. Plus, the character design in the animation has a creepy, expressionless quality reminiscent of early performance-capture films like The Polar Express. Bilal means well, and it provides a cultural perspective we rarely see in animated movies, but it’s probably only suitable for tweens and older.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

This weekend, it’s also the Super Bowl. If you want to get psyched up for the big game – or you’d rather watch anything else besides the New England Patriots playing the Philadelphia Eagles – here are some football-themed movies you can enjoy with the family.

Brian's Song (1970) 85%

Rating: G

This was originally a made-for-TV movie, so you really, truly could have sat in front of the television with your family and watched this heartwarming story – back when there were only a handful of channels and you had to get up from your recliner to turn the knob. But its themes of kindness and racial harmony are just as relevant today as they were decades ago. Based on a true story, Brian’s Song follows the friendship between Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams). Despite having different personalities and backgrounds, they become close, and even end up being the NFL’s first interracial roommates. When Piccolo is diagnosed with cancer and begins to deteriorate physically, Sayers is his biggest supporter and champion. It’s a weepy, but it’s surprisingly understated, and it earns the emotion it seeks. Very young children might find the sadness and/or uplift too difficult to process, but for slightly older viewers, there are a lot of worthwhile themes here. A good choice for kids around 8 and older.


Rudy (1993) 78%

Rating: PG, for mild language.

It may seem super cheesy in retrospect, but it’s a classic and it’s worth sharing with your kids if they haven’t already seen it. The film from David Anspaugh (who also directed Hoosiers) is based on a true story, too: that of “Rudy” Ruettinger (Sean Astin). His lifelong dream was to play football for the University of Notre Dame despite being small at 5 foot 6 and not terribly athletic. He was also dyslexic, which made his classes at Notre Dame even more challenging. But through hard work, perseverance, and just plain heart, he makes the team and becomes a cherished figure. Rudy takes some tough hits on the field; off the field, he endures the harsh words of various people who don’t believe in him. There’s language scattered throughout, a scene of drinking, and a dramatic death. Yes, it’s a formulaic, feel-good sports movie, but it also offers valuable messages for young people about the importance of being focused and dedicated. Fine for viewers around 10 and older.


Friday Night Lights (2004) 82%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action.

Before there was Friday Night Lights, the popular TV series, there was Friday Night Lights, the feature film, based on H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger’s eloquent and evocative non-fiction book of the same name. All three vividly capture the sensation that football is life in Texas – especially high school football, and especially in West Texas.  But rather than overdramatize the Permian High School football team, director and co-writer Peter Berg goes in the opposite direction, depicting this world in stripped-down, bleached-out fashion. There is an awful lot of action, though. The football scenes, under the guidance of Billy Bob Thornton’s Coach Gaines, have a bone-jarring realism to them. Berg also explores the racial and socio-economic rifts that existed both within Odessa in the late 1980s and between Odessa and rival Midland, a wealthier, whiter town 20 miles east. We see the toll that alcoholism takes on the family of a party-boy tailback (Garrett Hedlund) and his abusive father (a chilling Tim McGraw). There’s also language, some frank sexual talk, and one passionate make-out scene. But Friday Night Lights is well cast and strongly acted, and high school students will likely respond to its authenticity. Fine for viewers around 13 and older.

Tag Cloud

Watching Series franchise harry potter Fall TV See It Skip It Action Lucasfilm comics elevated horror Pop TV Sneak Peek ESPN Film Adult Swim Superheroe Paramount Disney Thanksgiving Hear Us Out Song of Ice and Fire Ellie Kemper OWN toy story Ghostbusters Mindy Kaling A&E directors CMT San Diego Comic-Con National Geographic politics BET Awards Toys hollywood scary movies universal monsters cinemax GIFs discovery Anna Paquin Columbia Pictures video dc Peacock cults satire movie Syfy television X-Men Rocketman Apple hispanic rotten Netflix Stephen King biography Musical Valentine's Day Walt Disney Pictures Red Carpet First Reviews name the review Tarantino TV blockbuster anthology what to watch Warner Bros. kids Amazon documentary Trailer LGBT blaxploitation SXSW breaking bad Photos concert Avengers halloween Quiz twilight Disney streaming service docudrama Marvel Studios Country WarnerMedia AMC Christmas spanish language cats Mary Poppins Returns Box Office classics Infographic revenge Family Musicals Comedy witnail FX free movies BBC TNT E! Schedule Pride Month Premiere Dates 2018 The Witch cops HBO Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ITV news MTV talk show Sundance unscripted New York Comic Con crime VH1 Apple TV+ Winter TV films game of thrones psycho Year in Review Super Bowl MCU war jamie lee curtis VOD Spring TV nature Emmy Nominations GLAAD Black Mirror Amazon Prime Shudder spain medical drama Comics on TV Western BET Academy Awards sag awards Nominations Mary poppins movies sequel spy thriller OneApp Logo Marvel Sony Pictures doctor who NYCC cancelled TV series LGBTQ Holiday YouTube Star Wars MSNBC natural history Pixar BAFTA Baby Yoda Chilling Adventures of Sabrina rotten movies we love History El Rey Pop dceu USA travel best Rom-Com Extras crossover Amazon Prime Video CBS All Access south america Awards streaming indie diversity Emmys Polls and Games Biopics renewed TV shows boxoffice Tubi Holidays Hallmark Christmas movies police drama Disney Channel Disney+ Disney Plus Mudbound Awards Tour green book President disaster E3 Lifetime Christmas movies latino Amazon Studios screen actors guild crime drama Esquire Universal 71st Emmy Awards comic asian-american TCA strong female leads dogs Set visit YouTube Premium 20th Century Fox RT21 Best and Worst thriller Opinion versus theme song zombie screenings FXX 2016 quibi Podcast Calendar cars Writers Guild of America all-time DC Universe ghosts Horror comedies Women's History Month cancelled Sci-Fi Reality A24 Dark Horse Comics space Animation Food Network adventure Sundance Now comiccon mockumentary ratings based on movie documentaries hist dramedy VICE laika chucky joker PBS Pet Sematary video on demand Travel Channel Fantasy fast and furious Tomatazos Vudu worst Superheroes First Look Captain marvel animated Pirates TruTV romantic comedy 45 singing competition BBC One independent RT History romance award winner TLC Comedy Central cartoon indiana jones mission: impossible Turner Classic Movies superhero Showtime Film Festival sitcom stop motion Classic Film SDCC cancelled television tv talk TCM APB The Purge Comic Book Apple TV Plus reboot festivals BBC America Elton John Video Games Election Bravo Spectrum Originals justice league children's TV Television Critics Association Ovation social media Rock Lionsgate Black History Month Turner Crackle game show DC Comics TV renewals cooking USA Network criterion Crunchyroll crime thriller teaser die hard Trivia anime TBS Endgame CBS Reality Competition obituary critics 2015 batman christmas movies Binge Guide serial killer Mystery a nightmare on elm street YouTube Red Character Guide sports 2017 Hulu GoT vampires nbcuniversal 007 zombies 72 Emmy Awards American Society of Cinematographers psychological thriller Grammys Oscars 2020 Discovery Channel DC streaming service PlayStation transformers Winners parents child's play Hallmark science fiction PaleyFest Cosplay Marathons IFC 4/20 Britbox DirecTV Heroines Sundance TV TCA 2017 Countdown Cartoon Network WGN spinoff Epix Marvel Television HBO Max Mary Tyler Moore Fox News Freeform Kids & Family Certified Fresh Funimation FX on Hulu FOX period drama YA richard e. Grant Shondaland robots Chernobyl true crime Acorn TV historical drama 2019 SundanceTV werewolf stand-up comedy casting IFC Films Nickelodeon supernatural NBC ABC Family Brie Larson golden globes Drama zero dark thirty Paramount Network foreign Summer facebook Trophy Talk canceled TV shows Teen Star Trek dragons The Arrangement finale binge stoner Spike aliens TCA Winter 2020 HBO Go ABC The CW Starz Martial Arts mutant TCA Awards technology DGA composers emmy awards Rocky dark spider-man CW Seed 21st Century Fox political drama slashers CNN Television Academy Interview canceled Cannes Arrowverse book Lifetime miniseries Nat Geo Music cancelled TV shows TIFF Masterpiece The Walking Dead Disney Plus Tumblr TV Land adaptation Creative Arts Emmys series reviews Netflix Christmas movies 24 frames