Critics choice: Football tapes |


Critics choice: Football tapes

Critics choice: Football tapes -- ''Heaven Can Wait,'' ''The Longest Yard,'' and ''Black Sunday'' are some of the titles recommended

For millions of football fans, the Super Bowl is the ultimate bone-crunching extravaganza. But for those who can barely tolerate even ordinary games, Super Sunday is more like Sunday, Bloody Sunday. As the big day approaches, these two camps can face off — zealots warming up with classic football films while football haters retreat to a spare room to escape pigskin hell. Here are some videos to fit the occasion, no matter what your point of view.

Pro Football

Everybody’s All-American (1988, Warner)
An adult depiction of football life, Everybody’s All-American revolves around Dennis Quaid as a star running back determined not to let his transitory fame corrupt him and his family. An underrated, unusually well-acted film (it also features Jessica Lange and Timothy Hutton), Everybody’s All-American is intelligent and heartfelt. A

Heaven Can Wait (1978, Paramount)
Warren Beatty exudes can-do attitude, refusing to let a little thing like his own death keep him from the Super Bowl. A remake of the classic Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven turns the original boxer hero into a second-string quarterback, called to heaven before his time. With the help of a guardian angel, he makes an amusing and winning comeback to life, love, and a key role on game day. A

Knute Rockne — All American (1940, MGM/UA)
Yes, Pat O’Brien does say, ”Win just one for the Gipper” in this movie (referring, of course, to Ronald Reagan as the ill-fated George Gipp). And that basically sets the tone for this irresistible picture, a sentimental, patriotic, celluloid pep rally. Notre Dame coach Rockne is portrayed not so much as a football hero as a national saint. B+

The Longest Yard (1974, Paramount)
In this rambunctious bruiser of a comedy, Burt Reynolds, a former college player himself, plays a pro quarterback-turned-convict who gets to organize a team of prisoners for a game against the hated guards. A cast of wacko characters and Reynolds’ wise-guy expertise deliver a lot of laughs, and the big-game climax is one of the most rousing finishes in a sports movie. A

Semi-Tough (1977, CBS/Fox)
Burt Reynolds returns to the cinematic gridiron. Here he’s in a consistently funny comedy that takes place mainly off the field as he and his teammates prepare for the Super Bowl. It’s part comic love triangle, part jock high jinks, part satire of New Age fads. B+