by West Coast Craig

HOLLYWOOD – It’s a rough life being your humble roving West Coast Reporter for MTM, as I am forced to shuffle around from Oscar Party to Oscar Party this night and still manage to file a post by deadline. As I type this I’m being jostled by industry scenesters and actors…and that’s just the people carrying the hors d’oeurvres. If I can keep Jeff Bridges from spilling his Caucasian on my laptop, I might be able to hammer out something for you. However, as this will be an Oscar-themed piece, I must warn you that it’ll contain lots of clips, distractions, interpretive dance numbers, songs, awkward pauses, and the whole thing will run over and feel very rushed at the end. We’ll start off light:


Oddest Animal Lead In A Sports Movie: The Air Bud dog is like the Bo Jackson of movie animals, somehow managing to excel at soccer, football, basketball, baseball, and even volleyball. There isn’t a ball out there he hasn’t licked. Of course, Air Bud’s many different skills have spread his votes around, and the favorite appears to be Gus, the field goal kicking mule who manages to win the big game with gangsters trying to get him… But in a big upset, the winner is: Rhubarb. Rhubarb is the story of a Brooklyn baseball team whose miserly owner wills everything he owns to his feral cat. The new feline owner then goes on a rampage, firing managers and cutting ties with popular but aging players to restock his farm team and build a winner with cutting edge statistics. Not really, the cat proves to be good luck as all the players have to pet him as they take the field, and thus evil gangsters are trying to get him.

Foreign Films That Prove Sports Cliches Know No Borders: Here’s one I’ve never seen, but now that it’s been nominated I’ll have to get a screener. It’s perhaps the only Aussie Rules Football movie, called The Club, and it seems to have it all: tight shorts, burly mustaches, evil owners, workout montages with medicine balls and universal machines, and some corny seventies soft rock. I just couldn’t throw a three minute clip of it on here, but I think just watching the first minute of this must give a good idea of its worth. It looks like a classic to me, can any Aussie readers out there verify? The Envelope please… I think I just got a paper cut opening it, ah ha, this is one I mentioned last year but it bears repeating: Shaolin Soccer, if you want every sports movie cliché you can think of, joined with every kung fu movie cliché, this is definitely the movie for you.


Best High School Basketball Movie With A 70s TV Personality As Coach: It’s been mentioned here before, but Gabe Kaplan lent a certain gravitas with his fro to Fast Break. Opening the envelope, however, reveals a surprise! It’s coach, starring Cathy Lee Crosby in tiny shorts, a tight shirt, and a number of completely inappropriate situations with one of her high school boy players (including a pre-Kyle Reese Michael Biehn). There’s even a shower scene that must’ve jump-started the puberty of 12-year-olds around the country, as it did mine. It’s too fantastic even for a Penthouse letter…she’s a former Wonder Woman, she’s the basketball coach, she gives some extra-curricular tutoring to her players… That’s Incredible!

    That’s Incredible!

Lifetime Achievement: Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman is generally regarded as the silent era’s greatest sports movie, but I’m a Buster Keaton guy so I enjoy College better (even if it’s pretty clearly a rip off). Keaton’s stunts alone make him one of the best athletes ever to step in front of a camera, but he was also a huge baseball fan who would pick up a bat and ball and make his crew play a game between shots. He had a baseball gag in Three Ages, where he uses a club to hit back a pitched rock, hitting the chasing caveman right in the head (a shot that took dozens of takes to get perfect). In Battling Butler, he was the first filmmaker to put the camera actually inside the ring, paving the way for Raging Bull. In The Cameraman, his last great silent, he got some excellent footage of old, old Yankee Stadium.

Finally, the one you’ve all been waiting for, Outstanding Performance As Self in a movie. Unfortunately for Michael Jordan, his work in Space Jam just missed the cut…the top two performers were just that good. First is Evel Knievel in…Viva Knievel! He rides his bike, he cures afflicted children in the hospital as he passes out his own action figures, and he preaches the ills of using drugs, then he does a couple of laps, and occasionally he jumps something! You can’t get much stronger than that, unless you’re… Muhammad Ali in, (what else?), The Greatest. Here The Champ does a good Muhammad Ali impersonation, with Ernest Borgnine in the roll he was born to play as Angelo Dundee, and James Earl Jones in a role he wasn’t quite as born to play as Malcolm X. Watch in this scene as he goes toe to toe with no less an imposing figure as Robert Duvall, then gets behind the wheel of a bus and explain he won’t turn his back on his people, unless they’re Joe Frazier. He is truly The Greatest, and a fitting figure to end on here.

Angry Ward, Mr. Blackwell’s protege, tomorrow.

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West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a “Valley” hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been “So very L.A.” for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear… with his hand.

  • All Blacks Rule

    The people in Melbourne must be going bonkers for their shiny new Meet the Matts Oscar for the footy. It looks like St. Kilda jumpers, if I’m not mistaken.

  • Angry Ward

    I always appreciate a good Cathy Lee Crosby reference but I must admit I’m a tad disappointed that “MVP: Most Valuable Primate” didn’t make the cut here. C’mon what could be funnier than a hockey playing chimp? Somewhere Tony Danza is going ape over this snub.

  • West Coast Craig: You’re no Jess Cagle and Kathy Ireland still looks better, but those two and Sherri Shepherd but you’re nearly as good. Hopefully the MTM Academy will find your column as funny as Tyler Perry’s camera direction bit “Medium shot, guys. Ha, ha. Now the Close-Up… Wait, bad idea. Ha, ha.” Hey Tyler, you’re right: YOU WON’T BE AT THE OSCARS AGAIN. We should be hosting that frogging thing…
    Expanding Cookie: Not only was Buster Keaton a mute, he also had very short legs.
    As for an Aussie Rules Football movie, here’s a short that’s Oscar-worthy:

  • Time Warp Tony

    I was hanging out with Great Stone Face (my nickname for Buster), and he’s a stuntman too. Hank Houdini, who I was at dinner with last night but disappeared when the check came, is the one that started calling him Buster because he was there when Stoney fell down some stairs. Look it up.

  • Grote2Dmax

    WCC this is an all time classic. Informative and funny. I saw Gus The Kicking Mule in the theater and decided his backwards kicking style was the wave of the future. Rhubarb sounds like the most insane premise and Cookie’s comparison of Schott and Helmsley is spot on.

  • Sams A Fan

    Grote’s right. I don’t know why that backward kicking mule style hasn’t caught on. After all, who’s going to go all out and dive straight at a mule’s butt, other than Yankee Joe of course.

  • Ed Kranemule

    Hands down ,best animal in a movie is “Fred”, Jerry Reeds dog in Smokey and the Bandit. A must see for every animal before they go into acting. Best 70’s High school basketball movie – Cooley High. The academy missed it by not nominating Lawrence Hilton Jacobs and Garrett Morris!

  • Grote2Dmax

    Boom Boom and Chico Escuela got jobbed by the Academy.

  • Angry Ward

    I thought the finest acting mule in show biz history was Algebra from the Little Rascals.

  • Randy Levine

    A, A, A, A, A, A, A, A, AAAAACHOO!

  • Angry Ward

    Very impressive Levine! Now where’s my damn alarm clock so I can stop this rampaging jackass?

  • Different Matt

    Had to bring up Space Jam, didn’t you. I lost a mint betting on the Monstars.

  • Ed Kranemule

    Algebra? We all know he cant read!

  • West Coast Craig

    Time Warp Tony is correct once again!

    I see that next year needs to include a category for Best Sports Movie Including Chimp Cruelty, though the battle between Most Valuable Primate and Ed might get too heated. Feces will be thrown.


  • West Coast Craig

    Right turn Clyde! Ha ha…no way, the eaters just got more pathetic. Who holds their nose while eating sauerkraut! And I’d have loved to see Short Matt make quick work of that boot of beer.

  • Angry Ward

    Matts, you’ve got another thing coming if you think I’m doing Tuesday and Wednesday’s posts. Dream on palskis

  • David Letterman

    Bang! That Cathy Lee Crosby clip in almost an upskirt. Or upshorts to be apparel accurate. Ali sucks in that movie, he told me so through sign language.

  • jgclancy

    I had to stop the Ali clip after he said he gave up eating pork. Still can’t see how eating a pork chop sends me to hell but a dozen chicken wings is okey dokey.
    Glad I never saw “Ed” !

  • Rex O Rourke

    Avatar wuz robbed!

  • jgclancy

    Avatar got what it deserved. The plot was weak as was the acting. Great visual effects but that was about it.A little too long as well.
    Heck..I still can’t believe Cameron won in 1997 for Titanic but that’s a different story.

  • jgclancy

    P.S. –Cookie, I understand the problem with mimes and can understand why clowns can creep people out but “Foreshame” for the line towards little people. 🙂 I knew I had one more foreshame left in me.
    Quentin will toss out 3 or 4 mediocre movies and every now and then a hit.
    He needs to try something a little different for him or get someone he can collaborate with that will say” Come on Quentin…you rode that horse to death–try again”

    Go Aztecs this week in the MWC tourney!!

  • West Coast Craig

    You’re right about everything Cookie…but I like speghetti western music and was pretty entertained by Basterds. That guy totally deserved his oscar last night.

  • RobertoGonzo

    I agree with Rex, Avatar lost because James Cameron had a big budget and the Academy likes firsts. First woman…

  • Corporal Agorn

    Inglorious Basterds was one of the best movies of the year and his best since Pulp Fiction. The performance of Christoph Waltz alone made it a great movie. Avatar well done and a technological achievement but hardly Best Picture caliber. The right film, however, won the Academy Award. When I win mine I’m gonna thank D.W. Griffith for being the best white male director of all time.

  • Angry Ward

    By the way, who directed that show last night, Jose Feliciano? Uh muh guh Felix.

  • jasontheump

    The boys’ on my track team are just as good as Buster Keaton at the high hurdles.

  • Rex O Rourke

    Avatar was a terrific acheivement. I saw Hurt Locker as well and it was excellent but James Cameron made a groundbreaking film. If HL was directed by a man it would have lost to Avatar. Stop trying to catch up with the PC crowd and just vote for who’s best regardless of race, sex etc.

  • jgclancy

    Sure, it was a terrific achievement but not a great movie. Did the first color movie win an Oscar for it’s great achievement?…of course not.

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